Valley Falls—Paisley—Summer Lake—Silver Lake—Junct. with US
97; 120.6 m. State 31.
Paved or graveled road.
Stages daily between Lakeview and Lapine.
The Fremont Highway follows in part the route traveled by Lieut.
John C. Fremont on his journey of 1842-43. It crosses part of the great
central Oregon plateau, a vast semi-arid upland, threading a course
through a bewildering pattern of forests, deserts and sharply scarped
peaks, a region old even as geologists reckon time. Lakes bone-dry or
quick with shining water, sandy deserts billowing in chalky waves, grassy
marshes, and green-wooded plateaus lie in its path.
State 31 diverges from US 395 at VALLEY FALLS (see TOUR
5b), 0 m.j and leads northwest up the valley of the Chewaucan (Ind.,
place of the wild potato) River, to THE NARROWS, 11.4 m., a
slender neck of land between stretches of the CHEWAUCAN
MARSH. Many old Indian campsites and relics have been found near-
by. The marsh covers a wide area with the rich green of hay fields
breaking against black swampy soil. Herds of cattle wade deep in the
wild grasses around the waterholes. Clustered about this oasis in the
desert are cattle ranches. Brands of the cattlemen painted in tall figures
on the roofs of barns and seared into the hides of living stock, indi-
cate that this is still a vital section of the traditional West.
Fremont reported under date of December 19, 1843: "It [the marsh]
was covered with high reeds and rushes, and large patches of ground
had been turned up by the squaws in digging for roots, as if a farmer
had been preparing the land for grain. I could not succeed in finding
the plant for which they had been digging. There were frequent trails,
and fresh tracks of Indians; and from the abundant signs visible, the
black-tailed hare (jackrabbit) appears to be numerous here. It was
evident that in other seasons this place was a sheet of water."
The plant to which Fremont referred is the wild camas, a bulbous
plant that was used extensively by the Indians, but which has been sup-
planted in modern times by the potato. The Chewaucan Marshes are
now partially drained and are used as pastures and hay lands.
The ZX CATTLE COMPANY RANCH (L), 20.2 m., is one
of the ranches of the Chewaucan Land & Cattle Company. Stock grazes
over extensive sections of government land as well as over private hold-
ings. A small army of cowboys look after stock of the ZX brand. In
late summer the cattle are concentrated in the Sycan Marsh to the west