Thursday – July 28, 2016
High Desert Museum
U.S. Highway 97
We spent the day visiting the High Desert Museum.
High Desert Museum Facts:
Location: Bend, Oregon
Type: Natural history
Visitors: 150,000 per year
The High Desert Museum sits on 135 acres of pine covered forest land in Central Oregon. South of Bend on U.S. Route 97, the museum includes various indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife in natural-like habitats, living history demonstrations, a library, a desertarium, and a cafe. Opened in 1982, it brings regional wildlife, culture, art and natural resources together to promote an understanding of natural and cultural heritage of North America's high desert country.
The museum was founded by Donald M. Kerr, a native of Portland, Oregon. Kerr had a passion for natural history that inspired a lifelong interest in environmental issues, especially the protection of native animals. In 1974, Kerr established the Western Natural History Institute, and the High Desert Museum was an outgrowth of the institute opening in 1982. The museum was originally called the Oregon High Desert Museum; however, the name was later changed to recognize the regional nature of the high desert environment it highlights.
The High Desert Museum has a 53,000-square-foot main building. Exhibits include a Forest Service fire truck, a stagecoach, and a number of Native American history displays. The Native American exhibit covers life on the land before the white man, and life on a reservation.
The museum's Hall of Exploration and Settlement has displays highlighting a hundred years of high desert history. Scenes include a trapper's camp, survey party's camp, pioneer wagon train, a mining claim, an early western boomtown, and a high desert buckaroo camp.
Outside the museum building a quarter-mile trail follows a forest stream lined with aspens and ponderosa pines. Along the way visitors can stop at a number of exhibits and animal habitats. The popular outdoor exhibits feature a river otter, a porcupine, sheep, gray fox, and birds of prey.
There is also a Native American encampment, a start-of-the-20th-century sawmill, logging equipment, homesteaders cabin, and a forestry pavilion. A visitor can actually walk through an early 1860s town complete with blacksmith shop, Chinese mercantile, and stagecoach stop.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.