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La Pine 10/18/19




This week we arrived in La Pine late on a Friday afternoon to watch the Hawks take on the Harrisburg Eagles.

We drove into La Pine on the main north-south highway that bisects the town. And if you aren’t a local you could be excused for not being able to give the name of that highway. It is technically US 97, which generally follows the old Huntington Wagon Road established in the 1860’s. At that time Superintendent for Indian Affairs for Oregon, J.W.P. Huntington, and his team of men improved the ages-old existing trail from the Columbia River to Klamath Falls to first make peace with, and then provide the promised supplies for, the native tribes of southern Oregon. If you know where to look you can still find remnants of the old road in the central Oregon wilderness where it hasn’t been completely wiped out by development. This route gradually received more and more traffic and developed into the main road through central Oregon. In the 1930’s it was designated part of US 97, which runs from California through Washington. The Oregon portion of that highway has always been known as The Dalles – California Highway. But in 2009, the Oregon senate passed a bill to rename it World War II Veterans Historic Highway, and it would be hard to come up with a more worthy group of people. Then in 2012 the town of La Pine renamed the part of the highway within its city limits as Ashton Eaton Blvd. And if Mr. J.W.P. Huntington came back to life and you told him part of his road was named for a 2-time Olympic decathlon champion you might want to have a definition ready for both “Olympian” and “decathlete”. But I think he would approve. It’s a nice gesture to a deserving athlete who spent his elementary school years in La Pine before moving north.


Mrs. Ednold's t-shirt template

A highlight of this trip for Mrs. Ednold was the sighting of a road sign pointing the way to Rimrock Trailhead. She thought this was incredibly funny. Thank you so much, Deschutes County, for suggesting another epithet by which I can be known to my wife. Why she thought it was so hilarious for one spouse to say to the other “Stop being such a Rimrock Trailhead” I will never know. But each time she said it she laughed hysterically so there must be something funny about it. She even has plans to have a t-shirt made and has asked if I will promise to stand on her left side whenever she wears it. These are the lengths I go to to keep my traveling partner happy.


I have always been curious as to the toponymy of the name La Pine (I am fully aware of how lame that is) and this was a good excuse to take some time and get to the bottom of it. According to the Deschutes Historical Museum “The name was created in reference to the abundance of pine trees in its vicinity.” I’ll buy that part. Central Oregon is pretty much full of pine trees. But what’s with the “La”? Here’s what I know: The town grew up around the existing settlement of Rosland. Rosland had a post office. In 1910 La Pine, having eclipsed its smaller neighbor, got a post office of its own and the one in Rosland was shut down. According to my sources, in a nod of respect to the old office the two names were combined to create “Lapine”. Which I guess sounds better than Ropine. I’d have gone with Roslpine, myself. Anyway, to choose two letters out of the middle of the name and stick them on the front of the other name sounds strange and my sources don’t sound too convinced of this explanation themselves. Though some of the earliest white men in the region were French fur traders, I can confidently say that the name has nothing to do with the French language. And I can definitely say that the town was known as Lapine until 1951 when the US Post Office decided for some reason to change it to La Pine. In 1994 Deschutes County Commissioners decreed that the proper spelling of the town’s name be La Pine, so apparently there was some controversy even up to that time. Many thanks to Kaelynn Sieg of the La Pine branch of the Deschutes County Library for her assistance and if I wasn’t working with a deadline I’m sure, with her help, I would have a more complete answer. I’m still not satisfied but if and when I learn more all of you will receive this vital information we have all been craving for so long.


The home (west) grandstand

Visitors' (east) seating

La Pine High School opened in 1979 and is part of the Bend-La Pine School District. The high school lies a few blocks west of Ashton Eaton Blvd just to the north of downtown. Parking for the football field is in the school parking lot north of the field off of Coach Rd. A gate directly off the parking lot leads to the ticket booth where we paid our $10 for two adults and got two programs and two hand-stamps in the exchange. Follow the trail to the right and you’ll pass the log cabinesque concession/restroom building before reaching the main grandstand. This stand is aluminum with bleacher seating. The lack of a roof wasn’t an issue on this cold, dry night, but I imagine there are times when it would be missed. A much smaller set of similar bleachers are set on a berm across the field to the east for the visitors. If the crowd for this game was typical, seating on both sides could use an expansion. The field is natural turf surrounded by a rubber asphalt track.



I’m afraid Gordon will need to be reassigned on Monday morning. I don’t have the heart to fire an 88 year old man but he’s obviously not up to the job. The loose lips have continued here at CPHC: This was our fifth homecoming game in a row. Crazy. I hope the other students and administrators around the state understand that going to all of this trouble to impress Mrs. Ednold and me, while appreciated, is quite unnecessary. Our goal is to just take in a typical night of football. But, since La Pine had already made the arrangements I have to say it was a lot of fun. This was partly because the mother of the homecoming king and queen, senior siblings, was sitting right behind us. And we had just made her acquaintance a matter of minutes before the game at a place called the Legend Cider Co. located on the extreme northern end of town. Legend’s tap room, where they sell their cider, is approximately half the size of your average sardine can, but between the staff and the clientele it just may be the friendliest place I’ve ever been. Complete strangers were treating us like we were regulars. Alas, we had a football game to get to and were only there because Mrs. Ednold had sampled the Legend Grape Cider with dinner and wanted to buy some to take home. That fish and chips dinner was had at a place called Huntington Headquarters, a fire-station themed eatery downtown, just a few blocks from the High School where everyone was also amazingly friendly. Although she said it was good, I doubt it was better than the Firehouse Burger and homemade potato chips that I had. Along with a Vicious Mosquito IPA from Sunriver Brewing it made the perfect pregame meal. Getting to the game and discovering the soon-to-be mother of royalty behind us was an unexpected bonus.


The band staying warm between songs

On this cold evening, with temps dipping below 40 degrees, the band was set up on the track to the south of the home fans under a couple of propane heaters to keep warm. There were no heaters for the rest of us, which may have accounted for the quiet-ish crowd despite the band, enthusiastic cheerleader support, and a small cannon beyond the south end zone that was fired after each Hawk touchdown. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a living person within 10 miles of La Pine, and maybe a few of the dead ones too, who couldn’t tell you they scored four touchdowns in this game. As my own hands started to freeze up in the third quarter, I made my way to the concession stand for my coffee/hand-warmer and the one disappointing experience of the night. I did eventually get it but the service was positively glacial and I ended up missing a touchdown.

The La Pine Hawks compete in the 3A Special District 2 Northern Division, as does this game’s competition, the Harrisburg Eagles. As the only east-of-the-mountains team in either the Northern or Southern divisions of Special District 2, I’m betting the Hawks spend a lot of time on a bus. While the Hawks went 3-6 last season, the Eagles went 7-3 and were a playoff team. But both teams came into this game looking for their first league win of the season and when the hometown Hawks took an early 23-7 lead it looked like our attendance would spell victory for the home team for the third week in a row. Especially since La Pine suited up fully twice as many players as their opposition, who had only a handful of substitutes. But the teams were evenly matched on the field and the momentum ebbed and flowed until Harrisburg scored midway through the final quarter to even the score at 31. Then they took a 31-37 lead with just over a minute left. The Hawks were able to get within 20 yards of scoring again but their final drive stalled as time ran out and that 31-37 score was final. It was four quarters of exciting football with the teams taking turns making big plays.



La Pine advertises itself as a great destination for outdoorsmen and women. It’s apparently a terrific base for hunting and fishing, neither of which the Ednolds do. There are lots of hiking and climbing and exploring opportunities in the area and it’s a good place to get lost on the backroads and spend a few hours just driving around. But we saw enough other things, and met enough really nice people within the city limits to make us hope that we have a reason to stop here again sometime soon.

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4 Comments


ednold19
Oct 23, 2019

OMG! Renee, thank you for reading and sharing. That was such a cool surprise to see your name. Hope we see you again one of these days.

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gilromastew
gilromastew
Oct 22, 2019

I enjoyed hearing about LaPine since I remember it from hunting parties with my family. Again you did a great job giving a feel for the town and the game. I knew my cousin had gone to school there so Dad e mailed her. Hope she responds.

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Renee Billingslea
Renee Billingslea
Oct 22, 2019

Thanks for the history lesson on La Pine, Oregon. I was the second graduating class in the new High School. My grandfather homestead land in La Pine in the mid 1900's with the hope that it might become valuable in the future. My dad had a dream to build a house on the land, it is still there, today. We lived not far from the old post office you have referenced. I remember when it closed. There was an amazing bakery on Highway 97, they had wonderful bear-claws and maple bars. It was a wonderful place to visit as a kid, but difficult to live there as a city-girl from the Valley. I did like being a Hawk. Go Hawks…

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gilromastew
gilromastew
Oct 22, 2019

Well done, Ednold. Though you seemed to be at least as impressed by the local tap rooms as the football game. Still, it's good to see you spreading your wings, (like a Hawk) and fly to the east side of the mountains.

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