Sunday, January 3, 2010


The surroundings were too familiar for me to be awed. In looking back I wonder what I missed. Sure, we had the tourist sites, but were other sites just too close to see? Were they just too familiar to understand the significance?

My children and I took a trip through our state of Oregon. We had one week to experience a few chosen places. We began heading west to Madras and Richardson’s Ranch. There we were given picks and a bucket with a map marked for our dig. We were going after dig thunder eggs. Thunder eggs are Oregon’s state rock. Thundereggs are only found in areas of previous volcanic activity. As silicic lavas poured out on the ground, the gasses made it frothy and bubbly. The lava cooled and over a period of millions of years, became buried. Water, which contains many minerals including silica, penetrated the gas pockets through a crack in the nodule. As water slowly dissipated, the solution deposited agate. Thundereggs are spherical masses of rock that range in size from less than an inch to four feet in diameter. Most are about the size of a baseball. They have a knobby rind of drab, siliceous rock and a cavity filled with agate. The rocks literally rolled onto the ground as we used our picks to break up the ledge where we dug. When cut in half and polished these globes revealed their beauty. We were in cowboy high desert country mining for volcanic ‘gold’.

After Madras, we headed south to Crater Lake. My father had always talked about seeing Crater Lake nestled in the top of a dead volcano. It was summer, yet on the mountain, we met up with snow. The view was truly awe inspiring. Dad hadn’t come close to describing the beauty we saw.

Next we decided to slip over the border into northern California. We stood in the redwoods feeling dwarfed and impressed with the handiwork of God. Our final journey home was north along the Oregon Coast. We stopped at the Oregon Dunes, the largest dunes in the country. In places, the dunes extend 2.5 miles inland, and some are as high as 500 feet. We passed through Coos Bay and the fishing boats, through Newport with the aquarium, to Depoe Bay (the smallest year-round navigable harbor in the world).

Yes, we love Oregon and the beauty it offers, but I sit wondering at the marvels I might have missed in Ohio. Aunt Kate and Uncle Keith had taken the children and me to the castles in West Liberty and the Ohio Caverns. As a child I had seen the Indian Mounds, the Air Force Museum, etc. But what had I missed?

Dad was always sure that the rise in the back field by the woods might be an Indian mound. Indeed, the field did seem to come to a soft peak in a place where fields were flat. A small Indian grave was supposed to be along the river near Franklin School, but I’d never seen it. Ft. Greenville was just a part of our lives we saw whenever we went to the park along with the swinging bridge. Bears Mill was a working mill when I was a kid but is now on the national registry. We had often stopped at Annie Oakley and Frank Butler’s graves. Yes, I had seen those sites even though I probably didn’t realize the significance.

In looking into the landmark sites online referring to places in Darke County, I ran across this:

Octagonal Barns
Two octagonal barns can be found in Darke County. The barns are within two miles of each other in Eastern Darke County. One is on Byreley Road just south of Neff Road and the other is on Gettysburg-Pitsburg Road north of Neff Road.

Grandad Loxley’s barn on Byreley Road was a landmark. We knew that the barn and my dad’s barn were unique. (There is more on that story for another blog.) But I did not realize that I grew up playing in a barn that would be considered an important landmark.

Maybe I need to look a bit closer at my surroundings. Maybe, just maybe, I might be at the site of a piece of history.

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