Gaining Perspective at the Falls View….

The Falls View Tavern

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Note: The last 25% of this post may be of particular interest to history buffs.  Check out this story which goes back to 1850 and continues to the present time.

I’ve published quite a few posts related to my time in Oregon City, Oregon – from seventh grade until after I got married at age thirty-one except for time at Oregon State University and in the Navy.  My wife and I then moved across the Willamette River to West Linn – another Portland burb and our high school rival in the old Tualatin Yamhill Valley League.

I was a pretty good kid in high school – motivated by the admonition of Dale Herron, our basketball coach, that if we even thought of frequenting one of Oregon City’s bars (or went skiing at Mt. Hood) we would have to turn in our Chuck Taylor Converse All-stars (black high-tops). 

Knowing that attending college also depended on an academic scholarship and a clean record, I never drank alcohol before I turned twenty-one in college.  (* photo attribution at end of post.)

Oh yeah. When I when I asserted above “pretty good kid,” – in the interest of full disclosure, there was that one incident at the end of our senior year when several of us from the Class of ’66 decided to put an old out-house on the roof of the school. 

Fortunately, OCHS Principal Vern Larson (possibly remembering his own school pranks in North Dakota) went easy on us.   His son, Dave, was one of my best friends, so maybe that didn’t hurt either.  Understandably, Dave was not in the group of pranksters.

And when I worked on Main Street for Clackamas County after naval service, my haunt was either McNaulty and Barry’s – a wonderful and fabled dive (still going strong) across the street from the Courthouse. 

The Dunes Motel Lounge (long gone) was a sleazy alternative – after work attendance and political banter and ample booze consumption were expected during the last two years when I worked for the Clackamas County Commissioners.

Thus, I was surprised when my friend, Matt Love, another Oregon City High School grad, (a lot of years after my diploma) but also an expert on Oregon dive bars, suggested the Falls View Tavern.   It’s right across the street from what was one of our favorite high school hangouts – Art’s Cafe.

We spent a lot of time at Art’s on Friday nights after our games eating their great burgers and fries (Art’s is now the Highland Still House which is a great place to go for a shot of fine whiskey):

“With more than 500 bottles of whisky consistently behind the bar and a rotating collection of rare and exciting whiskies from around the globe.”  *2

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But I never really even bothered noticing the Falls View Tavern. I’m glad that I remedied that in early July with Matt and another Beerchasing regular, Jim Westwood – the dean of our group and another Oregon City High grad.

Both Matt and Jim are outstanding individuals and accomplished professionals as set forth in my post: .https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/07/22/2021-summer-beerchasing-miscellany-part-ii/

And we were not disappointed.  Since it was a nice summer day, we sat in their expansive patio or beer garden.  Falls View on their website describes it as:

Best Beer Garden within ?,??? miles.  Umbrella Covered Tables, Covered Stage, Covered Smoking Area, Fire Pit and a refreshing Misting Station for those two really hot days.”

The patio was a recurring theme in the positive reviews of the bar as best summarized by this 2017 Yelp Review:

“They have created an amazing outdoor area for live music or just kicking back to enjoy some food and drink. Whenever I take pictures of the bands playing in their back patio, friends always think I’m in someone’s backyard, and that’s exactly how it feels. But it’s the best backyard because there are these lovely people who will bring you food and drink in exchange for plastic or cash.”

While it’s nothing fancy, it’s spacious and draws a lot of people who just hang out or listen to the live music on weekends, compete in Wednesday Night Trivia or sing at the open mike on Thursdays.   

The owner, Terry Bee Enstad, another Oregon City High School graduate, said that during the restrictions on indoor dining, the patio was always full and people would come from all over the surrounding area.

The Yelp review mentions “lovely people” and there are other comments about friendly staff. Cyndee, our server that afternoon, exemplified this sentiment.  She’s worked at the bar for 5 1/2 years and since they weren’t extremely busy initially, spent time enlightening us about what makes the bar a “Community.”

And Terry Bee, the delightful owner for the last twenty-one years as of the Friday before we were there (the bar goes back to the 1920’s) lives nearby.   She’s used her charisma and personal touch to turn the Falls View into a community gathering place.  

Cyndee introduced us to one of the regulars named Sabrina, who positively gushed about why “The Falls View has become the only bar I’ll ever visit in the future.”  She lives in nearby Canby and talked about the great food and people she’s experienced since the first time she came to the Falls View two years ago.

“This is the last bar I ever want to be in!” (Sabrina – a regular)

An old building provides some challenges and Terry had had her hands full with maintenance and updating.  For example, a 2018 project involving the flooring gives an apt picture of the challenges:

“With the discovery of hardwood flooring under the carpet, it was an easy decision for Terry to lead the charge to rescue it.  But as with all repairs and projects at The Falls View, being a hundred year old building, you have to be prepared for surprises (usually unpleasant & costly ones). 

 We immediately discovered the first one to be that the floor was covered with a variety of materials including plywood (heavily nailed down), particle board, and something called Fix-All which proved to be a huge obstacle.”  (Falls View Website)

The inside of the dive bar validates the label and has a great musty ambiance with historic photos, signs and a great back bar.  There’s also an alcove for video machines which is nice as they are away from the main part of the bar.

The food is one factor that distinguishes Falls View and people rave about the broiled chicken:

“That said, this place is a KEEPER!  I came for the chicken and left with the opinion that it was, by far, the best chicken experience I’ve ever had.  I say ‘experience’ because everything from the service to the seating was excellent.  Then comes the chicken – five pieces totaling a full half of a chicken, perfectly broasted and seasoned with a very light coating, some hand-cut jo-jos, and garlic bread.” (Yelp 7/9/17)

One-half of a chicken, jo-jos and garlic bread is only $11.75, or the cod fish and fries is a stunningly reasonable $9.75.  And I will definitely return for the chicken gizzards and fries for $8.25 – the only bar I know in the Portland area besides the Yukon Tavern that serves this “delicacy.” 

As their website asserts, “Quirky was probably invented here.”  The breakfast menu also looked very good.

To further give you an example of why Terry should probably raise her prices, take a look at the total bill for the three of us.   Matt had two micro-brew pints and Jim and I each had two tall-boys (Old German – the first time I’ve had that Pittsburgh beer) for a total of $8 since there is a $2 tall-boy special each day. We topped off with a large order of great French fries

And they have five rotating taps besides the three standards (Coors Light, Bud Light and Boneyard IPA) supplemented by almost twenty different bottled and canned beers, wine in addition to ciders and hard lemonades.

Notwithstanding the fact that she was being pulled in several directions as the regulars started to pour in, I spent a pleasant twenty minutes talking to Terry about the bar’s history and her plans.   

My congratulations for her shepherding this establishment into one of the most distinctive and pleasant neighborhood dives I’ve been to in ten years of Beerchasing.  I will definitely be back….

One More Thing…..But It’s Important!

Now to end this post, I have to include some of Oregon City’s fabled history which I have talked about in several prior posts.   That’s also easy with Matt Love, an authority on Oregon lore and history (check out his offerings at the Nestucca Spit Press).

Matt told us that we had to check out the historical marker across the street from the bar at the Willamette Falls View Point.  Besides the outstanding view of the Falls, the locks and the historic mills on both sides of the Willamette River, he told us that the marker conveyed the story of the last Oregon public execution in 1850.

Well there was, in fact, an historic marker, but it was just that of Dr. John McLoughlin,  “known as the ‘Father of Oregon’ for his role in assisting the American cause in the Oregon Country.” (Wikipedia)

What happened to the plaque about the Cayuse Five?

However there was nothing regarding the hanging which Matt had referenced.  This sent me on an Internet search and the research may have revealed why officials removed the sign about the capital punishment:

“In May 21, 1850, the trial of five Cayuse men accused of murdering Protestant missionary Marcus Whitman begins in Oregon City, capital of the newly organized Oregon Territory. Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 11 others had been killed during a Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla two and a half years earlier…..

The defendants were indicted on several charges associated with the attack but were tried on only a single count, that of ‘feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought’ killing ‘one Marcus Whitman’ (Grand Jury indictment No. 11). The trial lasts four days and ends when all five defendants are convicted and sentenced to death by hanging…….

And, it does not speak well for “frontier” justice at that time:

“How the Cayuse made the decision to turn in those five men is not known. There was some speculation, at the time and afterward, that the Cayuse simply gave up five volunteers in order to appease the whites and end the fighting. For his part, Lane (the Governor of the Oregon Territory) seemed unconcerned about whether any of the prisoners had participated in the killings or whether any of the actual attackers had gone free. ‘The punishment of these Indians,’ he told the Territorial Legislature on May 7, 1850, two weeks before the trial, ‘will remove the barrier to a peace with the Cayuse, and have a good effect upon all the tribes’…….

“Oregon City at that time was a frontier town of about 500. The jail was a one-room structure on Abernethy Island, at the foot of Willamette Falls. There was no courthouse; the trial took place in a tavern, crowded with a couple of hundred onlookers. During the jury selection process, on the morning of May 23, the defense issued so many preemptory challenges that the original panel of 24 prospective jurors had to be augmented with people chosen at random from among the spectators. Eventually, a jury of 12 was empaneled and District Attorney Amory Holbrook (1820-1866) began presenting the prosecution’s case……

“The court heard three hours of summation from the defense and the prosecution and then adjourned. In giving his charge to the jury, at 9 a.m. Friday, May 24, Judge Pratt basically said the defendants’ guilt was proven by the fact that the tribe had turned them over to the authorities. As Lansing points out, ‘Today, Judge Pratt’s actions would have been a clear violation of the hearsay rule and the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment confrontation clause: ‘the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him’ “‘(Lansing, 151).

The jury deliberated for one hour and 15 minutes before returning the expected verdict: guilty. The defense immediately filed several motions on appeal; all were denied. At 4 p.m., Judge Pratt reconvened the court and pronounced his sentence. He ordered the prisoners to be confined until 2 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 1850, when they were to be taken by the U.S. marshal — Joe Meek — to a gallows to be erected in Oregon City, ‘and there by him be hung by the neck, until you are dead’ (Oregon Spectator, May 30, 1850).”

(History Link Essay No. 9401 – By Cassandra Tate – Posted 4/16/2010: “Trial of Five Cayuse Accused of Whitman Murder Begins on May 21, 1850.” https://www.historylink.org/File/9401)

The story has a woeful ending according to this account in article from MyNorthwest.com by Feliks Banel on 11/29/2-017:

“The Cayuse Five were [named] Clokomas, Kiamasumkin, Isiaasheluckas, Tomahas and Telokite,’ Karson Engum said. ‘They were hung in Oregon City and they were taken off in a cart and they were put either in an unmarked grave or in a mass grave, and at this point, there’s ideas that they may be under a parking lot somewhere in Oregon City or in some not necessarily unknown cemetery.’

Those interested in this story and related history will hear more in coming months as the area in question and adjacent to the Falls View Tavern is part of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.  While the Whitman massacre was a tragedy, the manner in which the accused were convicted adds to the sad narrative.

Interested parties including the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, various historians and government agencies involved in the project including the City of Oregon City and Metro are involved in bringing more information to light as set forth in this article by Oregon City historian, James Nicita, in the 6/13/18 Clackamas Review entitled A step towards healing: Repatriating the Cayuse Five; author offers theory on gravesite location.”

Photo Attribution

*1  https://www.facebook.com/highlandstillhousepub/photos

/a.442627192277/154748597277/

*2 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:

A_classic_Black_pair_of_Converse_All_Stars_resting_on_the_Black_%26_White_

Ed._Shoebox_ (1998-2002).JPG Author: Hadley1978  at English Wikipedia

*3 – *7 Falls View Tavern Website (https://thefallsviewtavern.com/)

4 thoughts on “Gaining Perspective at the Falls View….

  1. More good words from Dr. Dirt. I don’t remember ever hearing how you came to be “Dirt.” I was a Walla Walla girl during high school, so found the story of the Cayuse trial interesting. In Walla Walla you mostly just hear about the massacre. As you wrote, both were tragedies in their own way.
    Loved the Chuck Taylors…I have red hightops and pink hightops. I was so happy to see Kamala in hers!

    Like

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