National Geographic : 1969 Jan
The land surrenders its bounty at harvest time in northwest Oregon's fertile Willamette Valley. The mild climate and rich soil that lured pioneers over the Oregon Trail more than a century ago fulfill their promise with bumper yields of berries, hops, orchard fruits, and vege tables. Sweet corn (right) climbs a corn-picker's conveyor on a farm near Salem. Armies of Oregon youngsters earn pocket money each summer by harvesting beans, straw berries (above), blackberries, gooseberries, and other fruits in season. Schoolteachers organize platoons of 50 to 60, busing them to fields by 7 a.m. and back home by 3:30 p.m.-leaving the rest of the afternoon free for leisure. Trucks rush most of the crops to Salem, Eugene, and Portland, where round-the-clock food-processing plants freeze or can the prod uce at the peak of perfection. have been puzzled by the signs erected along the roadside by some desert humorist. The first said "No Loitering," and a few miles later came another warning, "Nude Bathing Pro hibited." Still later came "Free Sagebrush Help Yourself," and, beside a heap of rounded oblong stones, "Petrified Watermelons-Send One to Your Mother-in-law." A problem unlike any faced by a pioneer or homesteader arose soon after I obeyed a whim and turned off U. S. 20 onto U. S. 395 at a crossroads called Riley (map, page 88). The fuel-gauge needle was quivering omi nously at "E." I rebuked myself for having failed to buy gasoline farther back.