Bend Oregon’s High Desert Museum is located about 10 miles south of Bend on US-97. The museum architecture is western using lots of beautiful stone and stained wood. The entrance fees are $15 per adult. The museum was crowded with families the day we visited.
Much of what the museum offers is outside. We started our museum tour by heading past the antique Forest Service Fire Truck to the outside doors.
I’m not sure how much good such a truck could be in a forest fire. This truck is small compared to modern equipment. Small in terms of water carrying capacity and small in terms of the number of fire fighters it can carry.
Sculptures are scattered throughout the museum grounds.
While many of the sculptures use traditional materials like the above bronze, other use less common materials like the barbwire sculpture below.
One playful aspect of the museum is the signage discouraging feeding wildlife.
My favorite exhibit was the 1904 Miller Family Ranch and Sawmill.
All of the ranch buildings were built using a sawmill the ranch bought from a Sears Roebuck Catalog for under $300. Of course, in 1904, $300 was a huge sum of money. The steam engine, powering the mill, is shown below.
A docent showed us how logs were hewn into boards. Each board requiring at least three cuts on the big saw.
Every ranch needs a potty like the outhouse shown below.
Here I am with the docent sawing a log. We are lumberjacks!
The museum also had a number of live animal exhibits. We saw live bald eagle, golden eagle, and other birds of prey. Each bird of prey in their collection had something wrong that kept them from being able to survive in the wild. For example, the bald eagle had lost 1/2 of a wing and wasn’t able to fly.
There were a number of owls. Barn Owl, Barred Owl and small desert owls I didn’t catch the name of.
There was a porcupine that looked a bit spineless. Not sure why it wasn’t able to live on its own in the wild.
I think below may have been a rattlesnake. I was too busy admiring the cage structure to notice what kind of snake it was.
The bobcat was very sad. Apparently it had been someones pet and they had it declawed making it unable to survive in the wild.
Like good art, sometimes museums can connect you to a strong memory or emotion. The 1966 era Ford Econoline Van in the Mountain Climbing Exhibit provided one of those connections for me.
When I was in High School, I had a 1966 Ford Econoline Van (long version like the above) also in teal but not two-tone. We called it the bun-warmer because the engine was in line with the front seats and housed in a metal enclosure that had a seat on the top. My High School friends would pile into the bun-warmer with me and someone would almost always be sitting on that engine middle seat. As the engine got warm, so did their buns. Hence the name!
Another exhibit covered history with a focus on exploration and industry.
The part covering mines was very dark like the inside of a mine. Pretty creepy. I’m still not sure how or why people could work in mines like that.
In the display below, the wagon wheel is being fixed. A jack is placed under the front axle.
The fur trade was covered in detail. A pelt compression machine was shown along with bundles of compressed pelts. Ick!
Finally, a real live stage coach!
We really enjoyed this museum and will stop by the next time we pass through Bend Oregon.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!