On the far northwest margin of the high desert country, Pine Mountain rises up from the sagebrush plains to an elevation of over 6,300 feet above sea level, its summit crowned by the University of Oregon’s astronomical observatory, built in 1967. Many visitors camp on top of Pine Mountain during summer evenings to enjoy its crystalline skies and gaze through telescopes at planets and stars.
Looking northwest from the top of Pine Mountain, the urban glow from the sprawling city of Bend illuminates the nighttime horizon. Beyond Bend the more distant and faint illumination from Portland is also sometimes visible. But, in the opposite direction, the immensity of the Oregon high desert stretches off into the darkness, seemingly extending into infinity.
The human story that continues to play itself out upon that magnificent landscape is unlike the story of any other region in Oregon. Southeastern Oregon’s unique history enriches that of the entire state.
© Jeff LaLande, 2005. Updated and revised, 2014.