Wednesday, September 09, 2009
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Some old mini-roadtrip photos from around Lakeview, a small town out in far SE Oregon. I don't really have much to say about the place, other than that the town's kind of cute in a small-town, Old West sort of way. More info at the city's website, the local newspaper, and/or someone's unofficial home page for the town.
Lakeview's the county seat of Lake County, population 7,422 (and falling), size 8,358 square miles. In terms of size, that's just a tad smaller than the state of New Jersey, which has 8,729 square miles and an estimated 8,682,661 people, or so sayeth Wikipedia. Or for this humble blog's surprisingly nonzero UK readership, Lake County is slightly larger than Wales (8,022 sq. mi., ~3,004,600 people).
One more fun tidbit: The population density here is less than one person per square mile, so the county isn't even dense enough to count as "rural" under the long-used definition of 6 per square mile. Instead, Lake County is still considered frontier. Seriously. Frontier. And even that's kind of a fudge -- during the 19th century, uh, frontier era (when these definitions were dreamed up), you had to have at least two people per square mile to even count as frontier, otherwise you fell under "vacant land", untamed and (supposedly) unsettled land way out beyond the frontier.
As you're probably aware, back then "unsettled" generally meant "land we haven't wrestled or swindled away from the Indians just yet". Once that happened, generally a few pioneers showed up and tried to homestead for a few short years. They soon discovered it was a really poor spot for a wheat field or an apple orchard, and they moved on. Then the land reverted to the feds, primarily the BLM, and they've owned it to this day. I haven't found a figure on just how much of the county is federally owned, but if you're curious you could probably go to Lakeview, walk into any bar in town and ask the oldtimers, and they'd be glad to rant on and on about the topic at great length, black helicopters optional.
Updated: We now have linkage from here, part of a series about an extended roadtrip through Eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada. Definitely worth checking out.