Expletive Undeleted
Oregon in general, and the Deschutes river in particular, is rich in geographic names of colorful background. In the science of the historical derivation of place names, there are several general
categories. Most places get named after a person; some after a unique activity associated with that place. Or some are given self-explanatory descriptive names. Thus, we immediately understand Clear Lake, Lost Lake, Fish Lake, etc. Rooster Rock similarly alerts us to what to expect, as does Crater Lake.
On the Deschutes, Boxcar rapids makes little sense even when you see the railroad tracks alongside. It takes the specific knowledge that a derailment sent a boxcar crashing into that hole to understand the name. Same process for Trainwreck rapids. Buckskin Mary Falls (or rapids, it's sort of in-between) is interesting to conjure on, but even better when you read it listed as Buckskin n' Mary, since it takes two people of opposite sex to make a really good story.
But there is on the Deschutes one place name absolutely unique in Oregon, perhaps even in the whole U.S. It is an expletive, always spoken complete with exclamation mark. It is a rock. OhShit!
Rock. (There was an unconfirmed rumor floating around the Bighorn country of an OhShit! meadow named sometime around the time of Custer.)
Now, you can look at any and every map of Oregon you want, and you will not find OhSHit! Rock. You won't even find it in the best of river guide books, though they might refer to a certain rock to be missed in a certain rapids. But OhShit! Rock exists. It is known to literally tens of thousands of river runners, many of which have never seen it. And, again almost unique among geographical names, it keeps getting renamed, time after time, as people encounter it in their path, even if they never really knew
the name before. The local custom is to rename the rock at the top of one's lungs upon first sight, about fifty feet and 2.5 seconds before arrival.
It also should be said at this point, considering the developments in the area of high tech rubber rafts, that OhShit! Rock was named by a drift boater. Rafters just don't have the same perspective on such things as does a drift boater, given their infinitely loftier margin of safety. Yes, I repose in
complete comfort with the certainty that, had the west been conquered elsewise, that the first
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