Lake Misfortune
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 43° 16.894 W 118° 57.900
11T E 340567 N 4793957
Quick Description: This history sign is located on Ore. Hwy. 205 at The Narrows.
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 2/28/2011 6:46:13 PM
Waymark Code: WMAVWE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 5

Long Description:

This is one of three groups of history signs at this locations. This group includes two smaller signs also.

Main Marker Name: Lake Misfortune
Main Marker Text: In 1826 French-Canadian fur trapper Peter Skene Ogden led an expedition of over 100 people into the Harney Basin. Looking for fur bearing animals for the Hudson Bay Company, he encountered a scarcity of both food and furs, prompting Ogden to name the area “Malheur,” the French word for misfortune. From then on, maps identified the area as Malheur Lake.
Actually, Malheur Lake is not really a lake at all, but one of the largest inland marshes in the US. Water levels fluctuate wildly from decade to decade causing the lake to become nearly dry, as in 1934 and 1992, to tripling in size which it did in the mid-1980s. This constant fluctuation ensures that the marsh rejuvenates itself by recycling nutrients, flushing out mineral salts during floods, and wind-tilling the soil during droughts.
During wet years, this haven for wildlife is filled with acres of sago pondweed, fueling resident and migrating birds. There is also plenty of open water and safe loafing and nesting islands created by silt dunes in the dry times. Be it barren or an oasis, Malheur Lake’s dynamic nature ensures it will continue to be a sanctuary for wildlife into the future.

Small Marker #1 Name: Ghost town?
Small Marker #1 Text: There was once a town called The Narrows here. In 1889, homesteaders settled around the narrow channel between Malheur and Mud Lake. By the early 1900s, the town had become a large commercial center with its own doctor, hotels, saloons, garage, school, post office, livery stables, restaurant, dance hall, and the largest general store for miles around. After the paved road to Burns was completed, the town was abandoned in the early 1940s and the land was sold.

Small Marker #2 Name: Westward Ho!
Small Marker #2 Text: Seeking a shorter route from the Oregon Trail, two wagon trains traveled through the Harney Basin near this location. In 1845, the Meeks Wagon Train camped along Harney Lake but found the alkaline water was not fit for humans or animals. Then in 1853, the Lost Wagon Train led by Elijah Elliot detoured around the south side of Malheur Lake. Both replenished their fresh water supplies at the abundant springs in the Double-O area.

Historic Topic: Pioneer

Group Responsible for placement: BLM

Marker Type: Roadside

Region: Eastern Oregon

County: Harney

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

Visit Instructions:

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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
Volcanoguy visited Lake Misfortune 10/2/2009 Volcanoguy visited it