- I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Joseph, Oregon, August 28, 2015
We moved to the Chief Joseph Rodeo grounds on Friday. When reservations were made for Wallowa Lake ( and reservations are a must for this park) there were no sites available for five consecutive days unless we were out for two days. Joel's Oregon State Pass allows free state parking for 10 days in a 30 day period but only for 5 nights at a time and there has to be minimum one day break. Joseph is only 6 miles from the state park and there is a lot to do and see. The Rodeo grounds is within walking distance to the down town area which is the main highway to Wallowa lake. The town is named after Chief Joseph who was friendly with the original settlers in the area.
One of the main attractions is the Valley Bronze Foundry which is a major employer and renown foundry. At one time there were five or six foundries in the Joseph area, but now the Valley Foundry is the only one remaining that casts bronze and other metals on a full time basis. Tours are offered M-F for $15.00 and well worth the price. Our guide, Heidi was funny and broke down all the steps to making a bronze casing and provided great explanation from the silicone molds to the final buffing and color application. Now, if I'd only taken notes so I could remember all the steps. The tour was about on hour, which went by very quickly.
The Valley Bronze Foundry completed all of the work at the WWII Memorial in Washington DC which was completed in 2004. I went several years ago, and this is a very somber but beautiful memorial.
The Lost Wax method is used in most of the castings, however, most recently 3D printers are being used to fashion molds out of styro foam for the life size sculptures. The lost wax method is a pain staking process with the final step of bronzing. The whole process can takes weeks for just one piece. No production or assembly lines here. Although the artist provides the original art work the final bronzing could not be accomplished without the skilled craftsmen employed at the foundry. Now I understand why bronze pieces are so expensive. It's not the bronze, but the hours and hours of labor that go into the final product.
This eagle was "under wraps" and Heidi unvaled it for us.
The foundry also casts in other metals such as stainless steel.
Many bronze statues line the main street of Joseph. I noticed that some have color or "patina" as Heidi explained. The patina needs to be reapplied about every five years. These were some of my favorites. I really loved the garden lady.
We also attended the Wallowa County Museum. Now, I am not much of a museum goer, but the museum is full of history, not only of Joseph but had lots of information about Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. At one time there were over 91 schools in Wallowa County with the main industry being logging. Now there are no mills in Joseph and on one mill in the whole county.
The Maxville Interpretive center exhibits the lumber mill of Maxville a little to the north of Joseph. It was one of the few settlements that allowed African American loggers to emigrate from the east to settle in the west when Oregon's constitution included a provision excluding blacks from the state.
Another attraction in Joseph, which is a little "touristy" but fun is the Rail Runner. For $20 you can pedal to Enterprise and back on the rail tracks. It is an easy pedal to Enterprise about 6 miles down hill and 6 miles back...uphill (supposedly only a 2% grade). It takes about two hours or you can opt for the longer all day tour to Wallowa. The rail road was purchased from on of the large rail road companies with the idea of running a shuttle from Wallowa but then came the downturn of the economy. Well, the county lucked out because the Railroad ended leasing the track back from the county to store unused rail cars. The county recovered their investment. Now the owner leases the tracks for a small fee from the county. It is only one of four such legal operations in the country.
A guide goes with you and will help push the cars back if you run out of "steam". The scenery is gorgeous Eagle Cap Wilderness and farms along the way. We hit is just right, as it was the first clear morning with NO SMOKE.
One other point of interest is Chief Joseph's grave site and the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site ancestrial grounds. We walked the ancestral grounds where Nez Perce lived. Later homesteads were established after the Nez Perce were forced to leave. (That is another whole tragic story).
So that's about it for Joseph. A long post, but a lot to see. I'm sure I left out some points. In addition to the above Joel was able to tract down a couple of breweries and La Laguna Mexican Food restaurant is awesome! Joseph is basically the end of the road, but a worth while place to visit and go back to someday.