Ruth & I had a truly life-changing experience yesterday. Her father returned to Ruth’s life. He left when she was 17 and she had little contact with him for many years. When he died, we didn’t know right away. When we found out, Ruth called his wife but she was pretty much a stranger. Yesterday we learned what her father’s wife did with their assets, and a new chapter in Ruth’s life began.
Bill and Johnnie, Ruth’s father and his wife, lived on several acres in Tualatin, Oregon. As it turned out, they weren’t ordinary acres. They were geologically significant. When first approached by the city of Tualatin with evidence of their importance, Bill and Johnnie apparently said they were not interested in further contact. However, when Johnnie died, the city of Tualatin received a surprise. She left 5.79 acres of their land to the city. The area is known as the Tonquin Scablands.
Ruth and I met Community Services Director Paul Hennon yesterday. Paul has the responsibility to see that her father’s land is preserved as a wildlife habitat and used for park purposes. It’s currently on city maps as the Johnnie and William Koller Wetland Park.
What a wetland! The Tonquin Geologic Area extends from north of what is now the city of Portland down to Eugene. Between 13,000 and 18,000 years ago Glacial Lake Missoula formed. It held 500 cubic miles of water, as much as Lake Ontario and Lake Erie combined. An ice dam prevented it from inundating lower land masses to the west. When the ice dam broke up in what is now the Idaho Panhandle, the lake’s water was released. Icebergs, rocks, and torrents traveled. This happened repeatedly for 2 to 3,000 years, creating scablands in what is now Washington and Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley, now home to many wineries, hazelnut groves, and farms. One sign along the Tualatin River Greenway says, “Water at Camas Prairie was 800 feet deep and moving at 55 miles per hour.” The Koller Wetland Park, according to Paul Hennon, contains a cliff & a pond that remain from the Ice Age floods. This makes it geologically significant and a place that calls for further study. As far back as the 1870s, Tualatin pioneers were finding the bones of strange prehistoric creatures as they cleared the land.
Ruth & I were thrilled to learn about the Johnnie and William Koller Wetland Park. To celebrate this new development in our lives, we hiked the Tualatin River Greenway Trail yesterday after our talk with Paul Hennon. This award-winning trail’s grand opening occurred on April 9, 2016. We hope that this will be the first of many adventures that will enrich our lives thanks to the Kollers’ generosity and foresight.