|Catherine Butts Grave near Tygh Ridge, in Tygh Valley Oregon|
My Grandma Catherine Butts died on the Oregon trail on the Meek cut off route. Meek led a huge party of wagons and cattle over a trail that was only suitable for horses and he did it during a dry year. There was not enough water for all those people and cattle to drink and the route was very hard on the wagons.
|Marker is a bit confusing, She died while going down to the Dechustes via|
Hollinbeck hill, but she is buried on the other side of the Dechutes when
the party was going up tygh ridge
Many people died on the journey, including my Grandma Butts. I learned of this grave when I was doing my genealogy.
The GPS coordinate for the grave are:
N 45* 16.682
W 121* 03.439
Use Exit 87 off I-84 two miles east of The Dalles, Oregon, to reach US 197. Drive south on 197 about 32 miles to Oregon 216 at Tygh Valley. Turn east (left) and drive about 4 miles and turn left on Conroy Road, it is a good dirt road, shortly after passing a sign for white river State Park. Drive north for a half mile to a locked gate and farmhouse. Ignore the farmhouse, you need to talk to one of the Harvey folks to get the combination. We never met Robert P. Head or Ben Ward as listed on the OCTA page for this grave.
There was a fire last year (2010) and one of the fence posts has been damaged. The marker was put in by the OCTA but the fence was put in by a local rancher. The land used to belong to a man by the last name of Head. The Head family married into the Harvey family and I think the Harvey family owns the land now. To get permission to see the grave call Jo Harvey (541) 483-2241, she is 71 years old in 2011, her husband Rick aged 72, has the combination but he is often out in the field. Rick is a rancher and I think you have to get up at 4am if you want to reach Rick. Rick and Jo live in the Gray A frame house on the way out to the grave, with huge open sheds filled with hay.
Their son Zach lives down the street with his wife Lindsey, in a white house with a huge new shop behind it and he has the combination too, but is also hard to reach during the day. Jo Harvey's grandpa built their house. Everyone knows everyone in this small community and they are all helpful but it may still take a lot of asking around to get the combination to the lock. Be prepared to stay for a few days. We camped at the Wasco county fairgrounds. (N 45* 15.217 W 121*12.517) The fair grounds are pleasant enough with full hook-ups, flush toilets and showers, but there is not much to do at the fair grounds. We camp at the fair grounds because they are near the grave and the price is right.
|Wasco County Fairgrounds Camping|
A man named Sid runs the fair ground and he hooked us up with Jo Harvey. A lot of folks out there think the land is owned by the Connolly family and they may direct you to the Connollys but it is acutally on Harvey/Head owned lands. Our book "The Terrible Trail" says the grave is on "Conway" land. We talked to Kerry Connolly and he said he did not have the combination and he directed us to Rick Harvey but he was not home when we stopped by and we were not sure what door to knock on as they go in and out the back door. The front door had cobwebs on it giving us the impression that no one lived there.
The gate is kept locked to keep out idiots who believe a little too much in their GPS and think they can somehow cross the Dechutes river from Conway road. A guy just got his car stuck out there last week by following his GPS into a gulley. The consensus is that his car may be stuck there forever with it's oilpan ripped out. The road the the grave looks rough in the area near the gate, but we were able to carefully drive to the grave in a VERY low passenger car. If your rig is as low as ours, don't park it on top of the grass in the summer, you might start a fire. We were careful to park on the gravel near the burnt down buildings. There is a solar panel not far from the grave. Watch out for rattle snakes, we did not see any snakes at the grave but we saw a huge one in our campsite.
It turned out that the we arrived on the last day of the harvest so everyone was super busy. That same night they had their annual harvest festival called Harveystock and they invited us to join them for music, dancing and drinks.
|lifted up the burnt post to find a deer bone under it|
My relationship to Catherine Bonnett Butts is through her son Jacob Butts who was five years old during the crossing.
|Nearby Unmarked Grave at N45* 16.798 W121*03.591|
Some more pictures from this trip, including the Wasco County Fairgrounds Camp:
|Wasco County Fairgrounds Campsite|
|Jo Harvey on the left at Harveystock|
|Forestfire inspired sun set at the Harvey Ranch|
|Wasco County Fair Building|
|Wasco County Fair Building|
|Wasco County Fair Camphost "Sid"|
|Wasco County Fair Campsite at Night|