Buffalo Bill’s Saloon – A Haven in the Hamlet

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Buffalo Bill’s

While there have been very few bars I’ve visited which have been disappointing in the five and one-half years on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns or Pubs, there are less than a handful in which a visit and the experience transcend that above all the others.

Lunch at the Central Pastime

Lunch at the Central Pastime in Burns

They simply radiate charisma and character – maybe it’s the combined personality of the regulars, the bar’s story or history, the tales of the staff and the bartenders along with the trappings that convey an ambiance that one wants to bottle.

Whatever the composition, it is an abstract presence that draws one in and makes you want to stay.

The Embers - on Main Street in Joseph..

The Embers – on Main Street in Joseph..

Such was the case with the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, the Embers Brew Pub in Joseph and Charlie B’s – an historic  Missoula, Montana bar and finally, the Stanley Idaho Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon.  (https://thebeerchaser.com/2016/09/08/beerchasing-in-idaho-part-ii-stanley-and-the-sawtooths/)

Charlie B's in Missoula

Charlie B’s in Missoula

You will note that these all are located away from the major metropolitan centers of the US.

They tend to be in the rural or  “frontier” regions and reflect what noted historian Frederick Jackson Turner articulated in his essay “The Significance of the Frontier on American History” – the Frontier Thesis.  More on this below…..

Well, I have good news for my Beerchasing friends in Portland.  You can experience this type of venue without packing up and embarking on a road trip to another western state or even having to head east across the Cascade range.

Jackson Street - great in th 60s

Jackson Street – great in the 60s

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The entrance to the Beavercreek campus…

Thebeerchaser’s high school alma mater is Oregon City High School – now located on S. Beavercreek Road in the more rural area south of Oregon City and only 18.3 miles from the Tugboat Brewery – one of my favorite pubs in the heart of downtown Portland.  (Okay, when I attended OCHS in the ’60’s, it was on Jackson Street right in OC proper)

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If one then continues south on this rural road another 2.9 miles – only about five minutes – you arrive in the Hamlet of Beavercreek  one of only four such jurisdictions in Oregon.  And at intersection of Leland and S Beavercreek Road,  you will come across the bar called Buffalo Bill’s (hereafter BB’s)  Note:  As will be referenced below, the bar has recently returned to its roots and is now officially named the Beavercreek Saloon.

1966 Oregon City Classmate at the entrance for lunch

1966 Oregon City Classmate, Dave Larson, at the entrance for lunch

In the 2010 census, Beavercreek had a population of 4,485 and consists of:

“……a small grocery store, post office, café, tavern, hair salon, drive up coffee, veterinary clinic, automotive shop, gas station, well drilling business, a grange hall and a newer fire department not far down the road.” (Yelp 4/16/15)

“In the summer of 2006, the citizens of Beavercreek voted to become Oregon’s first hamlet, a system of quasi-government which exists in Oregon. A final hearing by the board of county commissioners on the formation of the hamlet took place in September 2006, and officially recognized the community as the Hamlet of Beavercreek.”       (Wikipedia)beavercreek-hamlet

Now admittedly, on the outside, BB’s is nothing special.  It’s entrance is nondescript and it’s surrounded by a very large parking lot with scads of pick-ups and large SUVs – most of which are work vehicles rather than just recreational.

photo-jan-26-12-09-05-pmBut a step through the door is transformational.  You will see buffalo head and trophies from hunts of elk, antelope and deer hanging from the wall plus the skilled taxidermy of bobcat and brown bear along with interesting western memorabilia and farm equipment ranging from traps, old whiskey bottles, cowboy gear and numerous western pictures including one of  the namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody.   photo-jan-26-1-32-28-pm-2

And these items are not tacky knockoffs.  They are spaced to enhance the ample spaces which house a number of larger tables and booths.  For the sports-minded, they have a number of wide-screen TVs – including the NFL Ticket – but these don’t interfere with the ambiance. There is also a cool horseshoe bar immediately in front of the entrance which is where they have thirteen beers on tap.   photo-jan-26-1-32-41-pm

Although the lunch crowd was more staid, this Friday night was rockin’ and there were groups playing pool at the two pool tables, couples sitting at the bar and almost every table was occupied by the end of the evening – everyone appeared to having a good time.

Frederick Jackson Turner -

Frederick Jackson Turner –

Now as mentioned above, Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis asserted that:

“….the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character…..This  produced a new type of citizen – one with the power to tame the wild and one upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality.  The forging of the unique and rugged American identity.”  (Wikipedia)

That night, I had the pleasure, at dinner, of spending two hours talking to a fascinating guy – the owner – Patrick Whitmore.   I think JF Turner would have enjoyed meeting Whitmore too – born and raised in Beavercreek – and hearing about his life since graduation from Molalla High School in 1957 since he epitomizes the individual embodied in Turner’s work.  More about him below.

Our crew that Friday night.

Our crew that Friday night.

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

Patrick and cousin, Jerry Calavan

One of the great attributes of BB’s is the food – quality, quantity and price and perhaps a quote that night from Patrick, reaffirming my sentiments about his character.

 

Two of our party ordered salads rather than the hamburgers which captivated the rest of us.   We had already made comments about the prices being so reasonable – for example, a 1/3 pound cheeseburger with a bunch of fries for $9.00 – (A happy-hour – burger is $4.50……)

But then our server, Christal, brought the salads – one was a cobb and the other a chef and a collective gasp broke out – literally! They were gigantic and filled with good stuff – all for the price of $10.50 and 9.95 respectively.  One of the guys in our party who is a small businessman, asked Patrick rhetorically, “How can you make any money when your prices are so low and your food so plentiful and good??”

Enough for a convention of vegetarians....

Enough for a convention of vegetarians….

Patrick’s immediate rejoinder was, “Well, we may not be making a lot of money, but we’re making a lot of friends.!”  (He was correct about making friends that evening and I think beyond that Friday and he is also a savvy businessman).

The enthusiasm for the new venture was pervasive with staff as well.   We had excellent service by Christal and the bartender.

People enjoyed the French fries and Patrick commented about how he personally inspects the potatoes based on his farming experience to ensure the quality.

And what did our host have that evening?  One of the new specials on the menu – steak and lobster – that and prime rib are Friday and Saturday night specials along with “all-you-can-eat catfish” every other Thursday for $9.95.  The other Thursdays feature bacon-wrapped meatloaf for $14.95.  I noted that when it was time to settle up, Patrick paid for his dinner rather than have it “on the house.”  His cousin, Jerry, told me that this was to be fair to his partner in the venture.

Steak and lobster - but not on the house....

Steak and lobster – but not on the house….

Now, you can also choose to have breakfast or lunch at Kissin Kate’s Cafe, adjacent to and connected with BBS.  The corned beef and hash looked pretty inviting and the breakfasts get very good reviews:

“Homemade breakfast, my husband loves their Corn beef hash. Denver omelet, light and fluffy. Great food and a must try.”  (Trip Advisor – 1/23/16)

Power breakfasts....

Power breakfasts….

As I mentioned previously, I had lunch there the same week with three of my classmates from Oregon City High School – the class of 1966.   All of us also were pleased with the reuben, turkey wrap and burgers we devoured – and the French fries still passed the test with flying colors.

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation - Larson, Benski and Daiker

Still chugging after 50 years from graduation – Larson, Benski and Daiker

The aforementioned also gives me a chance for a quick “shout out” to OCHS for it’s 94% on-time graduation rate last year – top in the state.

A follow-up story by the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, entitled, “At Oregon City High School, teachers showing students they care has made a huge difference – When Actions Equal Words” also told a compelling story about the community of teachers and students led by Principal, Tom Lovell.  

Principal Tom Lovell

Principal Tom Love

“Oregon City’s on-time graduation rate rose by 5 percentage points to reach 94 percent, including 91 percent among low-income students. That’s an accomplishment unmatched by the 40 other big high schools in the Portland area.”

I met Tom last summer when he agreed to meet with me to provide some statistics about the school that I could use for our 50th reunion – a great and charismatic guy – I can understand why he and his team have achieved the results. 

Kelly and Patrick - plans for the future..

Barbara and Patrick – plans for the future..

Besides making major changes to the menu, they have also updated their computer system and it was interesting hearing Patrick and his friend, Barbara Brooke, who is the General Manager, talk about some of their future dreams for the place.

 

These include having an expanded selection of beers on tap, a new web-site, remodeling and changing the name back to the original “Beavercreek Saloon.”  (I have a feeling that the photo of Buffalo Bill will still be present……).

A permanent fixture.....

A permanent fixture…..

And since it is a compelling story, a little bit more about Patrick Whitmore.   After high school graduation, he completed an apprentice course in sheet metal work and left the family farm to work for Boeing in Seattle.

Seeing the manner that many of the workers were treated by the big corporation when the economy went south, after twenty years, he decided he wanted more control over his own destiny.   He and a friend returned to Beavercreek and grew potatoes (one reason he takes particular interest in the quality of BB’s French fries.)

They soon needed a structure to house their product so they built a pole barn with a sheet metal roof – one that Patrick’s neighbor wanted replicated on his property.  He and his partner formed a successful construction company and did work for Clackamas County.   The scope of their work expanded and ultimately led to the formation of Morrison Construction which does residential and commercial construction including apartments and condominiums.

Jerry Calahan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

Jerry Calavan, Steve Oltman and Patrick Whitmore with Thebeerchaser logo

This Beavercreek native, turned entrepreneur, has also been involved in a number of other enterprises and is active in civic affairs as well.  You will also be able to find him and Barbara on the slopes of Mt. Hood during ski season in their “spare time.”

photo-feb-03-7-50-45-pmThey have enthusiastically set a course for their new vision and take a drive in the country to check them out.  I typically quote from some of the more interesting reviews and comments on social media when writing these narratives, but given the changes that have occurred in the last six months, they will be largely omitted this time due to the short transition. Let’s finish with the two below which I think sum up the situation aptly:

“If you make it out to Beavercreek stop in – the food’s really good, service was excellent with a friendly atmosphere… I heard that it was under new management and wow it really shows.”  (Facebook 10/22/16)

“Great place. Super fun. The new owners are a breath of fresh air. Ill be back !!”  (Google two months ago)

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Unfortunately, we left before the karaoke started at 9:00 (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), but it was a great cap to the evening to hear the disc jockey warming the crowd up with Alabama’s “Down Home”   BB’s also periodically features local country-western groups with live music.

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Buffalo Bill’s Saloon and Kissing Kate’s Cafe

The Beavercreek Saloon

21950 S Beavercreek Rd           Beavercreek, OR 97004

 

The Diamond Hotel – The Cutting Edge in Hospitality and the Final Chapter in Thebeerchaser Tour of Eastern Oregon

The Round Barn south of Burns

The Peter French Round Barn south of Burns

After lunch in Burns – a great town where one pundit asserted, “You could get a good meal, rent a movie and hire a contract killer,” we headed southeast on Highway 78 to Diamond, Oregon (population 5) and our final night at the historic Diamond Hotel.

Passing through the most desolate country on this stretch –  Burns south past the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve almost to the Steen’s Mountains and the Alvord Desert. We toured the Peter French Round Barn – on the National Historic Register and constructed around 1870 by the cattle rancher who used it to train horses.

More prevalent than cars on Highway
More prevalent than cars on Highway 78
The remarkable interior structure of The Round Barn.

The remarkable interior structure of The Round Barn.

About 50 miles south of Burns, we also stopped at the Diamond Crater Natural Area –  which reportedly “has the best and most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the United States.” We saw lava flows and tubes and cinder cones from the observation area.

A road through the lava beds or what Dave maintained was a description of Thebeerchaser's career.

A road through the lava beds and a sign that Dave maintained was a description of Thebeerchaser’s career.

The Diamond Hotel was in a beautiful grove of poplar trees and we believed the sign that said the population of Diamond was only five since the hotel was in essence the center of “the city” – on Main Street.

The Census Bureau had an easy time in this venue

The Census Bureau had an easy time in this venue

After playing cards and having a beer, we sat down for “Family Dinner” – eight people sitting around a large rectangular table for an outstanding rib dinner with all the accoutrements.  The three-hour feast lasted that long because of the fascinating conversations with our fellow diners.

Family Dinner at the Diamond Hotel

Family Dinner at the Diamond Hotel

Two of the diners were a married couple in their mid-eighties and riding in on their Harley – mid-way through a tour that took them into Montana, Idaho and Oregon.

Another was a high-tech exec from Portland – a German immigrant who rode in on his BMW bike on which he has toured most of the western US and Canada.  We were the only boring ones at the table……David Thompson, one of the friendly owners, briefed us on history and shared stories while we were eating.

Notice the Harley and the BMW bike

Notice the Harley and the BMW bike

For those who love our state and want to explore, the Diamond Hotel should be on your bucket list.  Built in 1998, it was completely restored in 1990.  Shirley and David Thompson, descendants of one of the first families in Diamond bought the hotel in 2001 and now operate it.   P1010787

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It was headquarters for the Cycle Oregon staff during their 2013 ride this summer, which had a one night stay near Diamond.  The rates at the hotel, including the dinner, are very reasonable and it is quaint and interesting.

"Recreation" before Family Dinner

“Recreation” before Family Dinner

And so ended our four-day road trip.  After breakfast, we headed north – this time on Highway 205 back through John Day, then north on 395 and to Steve’s home in Pendleton.  We photographed the Stampede Room in Long Creek, which will have to wait until our next trip to raise a mug.

The Stampede will have to wait until the next trip

The Stampede will have to wait until the next trip

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We saw amazing sights and reaffirmed the premise of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland Taverns, Bars and Pubs“Each bar or watering hole has its own unique character, ambiance and clientele,” – only in the central and eastern part of our wonderful state.

Whether sampling the brews of Johnny Brose at the Bull Ridge Brewery and Pub in Baker, kidding Patty at the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns, hearing stories from Heather at the Horseshoe Tavern in Prineville or just photographing the Powder Club Tavern in North Powder – which incidentally, is Under New Management or The Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter, our visits to the Central and Eastern Oregon bars was outstanding and we would recommend it.

Powder    - Under New Management!

Powder – Under New Management!

We told Eastern Oregon bar jokes like the one about the dog who limped into the bar and said to the bartender, “I’m looking for the guy who shot my paw…!”

or

The bartender who asks the horse who comes into his bar and orders a beer, “Hey, why the long face..?”

Besides the establishments mentioned above we also visited The Solstice Brewery in Prineville, The Long Branch Saloon, The HideoutTavern and 10 Depot Street Bar and Restaurant in LaGrande and The Mt. Emily Ale House in Baker City.  These are reviewed in the first three blog-posts of this road trip.

1,746 miles, four nights and ___ bars later....

1,346 miles, four nights and eight bars later….

Now back to Portland where the next Beerchaser post will review the fairly new and interesting neighborhood tavern – Church.

Burns, Oregon – A Hot Stop on Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Eastern Oregon

One of the sights along the highway in God's Country

One of the sights along the highway in God’s Country

Our third day on the Eastern Oregon tour started with a drive from Catherine Creek State Park through Baker City to John Day where we had lunch.  Although it was too early for a beer, we photographed Kilpatrick’s Tavern in Mt. Vernon and I talked briefly to the female co-owner, who with her brother, lawyer, Mike Kilpatrick, are the offspring of the legendary Oregon lawyer, Roy Kilpatrick, who served on the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors from 1965-8.     

Kilpatricks Tavern in Mt. Vernon

Kilpatricks Tavern in Mt. Vernon

The sign from his law office by the entrance to the bar shows his firm was established in 1854.  Among the partners was Grace K. Williams, the first woman elected to serve as a district attorney in Oregon, who died at 90 on June 22, 2007, in John Day.

Robert Dayton, my colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt for many years, also worked at Kilpatrick’s firm and described Grace as, “Honest, tough and did not cave into pressure.”  

A Legendary Eastern Oregon law firm
A Legendary Eastern Oregon law firm

Bob described Roy Kilpatrick as “An Eastern Oregon powerhouse along with Wendell “Pinky” Gronso from Burns….and Owen Panner of Bend.  Owen and Roy hit it big as plaintiff’s lawyers for the folks flooded out in the big Mitchell flood of 1956.”  (After a thunderstorm resulted in four inches of rain in about 50 minutes a sudden surge of water destroyed or heavily damaged 20 buildings in the Mitchell and several bridges.)

His obituary in The Blue Mountain Eagle stated: “His red bow tie (was) as colorful as his vocabulary….He was a fighter, without peer…one of the last of the colorful characters who set the tone in courtrooms in the eastern two-thirds of Oregon.”

The Dirty Shame Bar and Pizzaria

The Dirty Shame Tavern and Pizzeria in John Day

We decided to explore some other camping options before opting for Clyde Holliday State Park in Mt. Vernon, and drove south from John Day and on the Forest Service Roads off Highway 395 past Wickiup and Parrish Cabin Campgrounds to what we hoped was a great camping and fishing at Canyon Meadows Lake.  Wrong…!

The "remains" of Canyon Lake.

The “remains” of Canyon Meadows Lake.

We saw the impact of the drought and forest fires. The only water at Canyon Meadows was a small creek which passed through an impressively large meadow – once the bottom of the lake – which ended with a recently erected beaver dam.

This campground shows the impact of the Parish Creek fire in 20
This campground shows the impact of the Parish Creek fire in 20

So we headed back to Clyde Holliday Park for dinner and the night with an early start the next day to Burns and Diamond.  The highway was straight and well-maintained as Dave, feeling the power in his left foot, powered his Highlander up to pass two cars until he realized in the nick of time it was a cop chasing a speeder…..!

Almost waved to him as we passed....

Broderick Crawford would have been appalled…..

The fourth day we drove south on Highway 95 to Burns – home of former U of O and now St. Louis Rams quarterback, Kellen Clemens.

We explored and made a stop at Reid’s Country Store which had an impressive growler option for beer-hungry patrons.

Impressive selection of beers

Impressive selection of beers

Growler options

Growler options

The grocer directed us to the Central Pastime Tavern  (CPT) for lunch,  which allowed us to ignore Steve who was pushing for the Broadway Deli after seeing the sign below and arguing, “It would be good food and also make sure our car had a smooth ride to Diamond……..”   P1010761

The Central Pastime - "Best food in Burns...."

The Central Pastime – “Best food in Burns….”

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It was a great recommendation.  We talked to owner Glen Williams, a Wisconsin native, who was very cordial and a real character.  After a variety of occupations involving surveying and power, he bought the CPT seven years ago and said the original bar was in the old hotel in Burns.

Thebeerchaser logo with Thebeerchaser and Glen Williams

Thebeerchaser logo with Thebeerchaser and Glen Williams

However, the bartender, Patty, was the star of our visit.  She served us a great lunch (chicken gizzards, a rib-steak sandwich and a taco salad) and we each had one of the eight beers on tap.

Rib Steak, onion rings and Heinz 57 - it doesn't get any better....

Rib Steak, onion rings and Heinz 57 – it doesn’t get any better….

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We listened to some great country music – it reminded us of Bob Newhart’s memorable quote, “I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do….And for people who like country music, ‘denigrate’ means ‘put down.'”  Of course, this prompted us to remember some of our favorite county-western titles such as:

  • If The Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know It’s Me
  • I’m So Miserable Without You; It’s like Having You Here
  • I Put the Golden Band on the Right Left Hand This Time (This one is actually a wonderful real tune by the late and great, George Jones)
Great interior design enhances the atmosphere at the Central Pastime

Great interior design enhances the atmosphere at the Central Pastime

Since we talked about Kellen Clemens, Dave decided to ask one of the patrons, “Do you know Kellen Clemens?”  The guy was listening to country-western and replied, “No, but hum a few bars to see if I remember the melody.”

But the conversation with the  hard-working Patty, an attractive and personable lady in her late forties or early fifties, was the best part of this bar.  I had seen the cocktail menu which included some interesting libations including one entitled, “Liquid Marijuana.” I didn’t want to pay $9 and had already had a PBR, so Patty offered to fix a shot sampler and told us the ingredients: Captain Morgan’s Rum, Blue Curacao, Malibu Rum and a splash of Midori (green melon liqueur).  It tasted like a Long Island Ice Tea with coconut.

Liquid Marijuana - "Because it's green and makes you hungry..."

Liquid Marijuana – “Because it’s green and makes you hungry…”

We could have talked to Patty all afternoon, but we needed to head to Diamond and our conversation concluded with this friendly exchange:

BeerchaserHow long have you worked at the Central Pastime, Patty?

Patty:  Eighteen years.

BeerchaserThen this must have been your first job out of high school?

Patty:  And I thought the cowboys around here were smooth talkers.  You city slickers put them to shame!

Good food and selection on "The Daily Specials"

Good food and selection on “The Daily Specials”

And with that parting dialogue, we took off south for the historic Diamond Hotel – our last night on Thebeerchaser Tour of Eastern Oregon.

The bar at the Central Pastime. Patty was camera shy but impressed with the city slickers passing through.

The bar at the Central Pastime. Patty was camera shy but impressed with the city slickers passing through.