Cy Bingham Trees

As part of my role representing Central Oregon on the Oregon Heritage Trees Committee, I’ve been sucked into the lore of the Cy Bingham Trees. These trees were blazed by early forest ranger Cy Bingham in the first decade of the 20th century, as he made his lonely way along the Cascade Mountains in service of his duties as the first ranger in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests.  I’m attempting to scout out the remaining trees and make an inventory on my website. I will keep this as up to date as possible, contact me for any changes or questions.

In this endeavor, I’m grateful to the work of Bob Cox, Nancy Moen, and Mark Dunaway, all who have pursued this quest before me.

Trees are numbered according to the Bob Cox numbering in his book “Blazes on the Skyline.” Photos are my own, unless otherwise noted.

#1 Steamboak Creek Tree (Alive)

The first tree carved by Cy Bingham is 8 miles up Steamboat Creek. It was carved in 1900. As far as I know, this tree is still standing, however I have not visited it.

#2 Lizard Lake Tree (Alive)

The second tree carved by Bingham (1903) is at Lizard Lake and is supposedly still standing, however I have not visited.

#3. Cold Creek Tree (Downed; Preserved)

This tree was carved on August 4, 1903 at Cold Creek camp on Davis Lake. After the tree died, this carving was removed and is currently on display at the Deschutes Historical Museum,  in Bend, Oregon.

The carving reads: Cy. J. Bingham. August 4, 1903. U.S.F.R. Lev. 4750.

[U.S.F.R. stands for United States Forest Ranger; Lev. 4750 represents the elevation level].

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#4 Cowhorn Mountain Tree (Alive)

A 1904 carving found in the saddle of Cowhorn Mountain. Supposedly a very large blaze, although I have not seen this one in person.  Supposedly still standing.

#5: Quinn River Tree (Dead, but standing)

This tree was carved on June 16, 1904. It is located at Crane Prairie near the Quinn River, a natural campsite, still used today. Cy camped out here, probably for some time, in 1904. The next year a Forest Service cabin was built near the site, owing to the excellent spring water. The area was excellent for hunting and fishing.

This tree, while dead, is still standing and has an interpretive sign installed nearby from the Forest Service.  It’s the only Cy Bingham tree with an interpretive sign and is the easiest of all the trees (that are still in the wilderness) to find as you can park very close by and it’s an easy walk.

The carving reads: “Cy J. Bingham. F. R. 1904. June 16.”

 

#6 Summit Lake Tree (Downed; Preserved)

This 1904 carving was done at Summit Lake. On display now at the Oakridge Museum.

#7 South Waldo Tree (Alive)

This 1904 carving is located near the intersection of the Mt. Ray trail and the trail that circles Waldo Lake, near the South Waldo Shelter. The original trail, however, has been re-routed, and this carving is difficult to find.  A cursory search I conducted in 2017 came up empty-handed, however Mark Dunaway has found the tree in recent years, so it should still be standing.

#8 Bobby Lake Tree (Alive)

This 1904 carving is located at Bobby Lake and is supposedly still standing, although I have not visited.

#9 Pebble Bay Tree (Alive)

This 1904 tree, at Bingham’s favorite campsite in the Cascades, is still alive and located at a current campsite that you can hike or boat into at Odell Lake. I plan to visit in spring of 2018. This is probably the best candidate for an Oregon Heritage Tree designation.

#10 Trail 3586 Tree (Status Unclear)

This 1905 tree pointed the way to Diamond Peak and was carved when Bingham was in the company of several other forest rangers. This tree was supposedly still standing recently, however I thoroughly searched for this tree in summer of 2017 and was not able to locate it.  There was a large, recently felled tree in the vicinity and I suspect this tree may be downed.

2018 Update: Reports that this tree is indeed still standing, about 1/2 mile further south down the 3586 trail toward Island Lake from the 3586/3682 intersection. Trail is reported to be in poor condition.

#11 Archie Knowles Tree (Alive)

The “Archie Knowles” tree, lumped in with Cy Bingham count, but not actually completed by him.  This tree was inscribed in 1905 by Knowles 50 ft away from Cy Bingham Tree #10. When I scouted this region in the summer of 2017, however, Tree #10 was not located and I suspect it has been felled.  The Archie Knowles Tree, however, remains. Bob Cox surmises in his book that Archie Knowles, then employed as a fire guard, came across the 1905 Cy Bingham Tree #10 and made his own marking nearby. The carving reads, with my annotations in parentheses, “Aldow Lake (Waldo Lake), 2 miles (correct), A. O. Knowles, Guard (meaning fire guard).

 

#12 South Waldo Tree (Downed; Preserved)

This tree, carved in 1905 in the company of Mrs. Connie Bingham, Numa NoCoin, and C. B. Harvey, was preserved by the Forest Service and is held at the Middle Fork (West Fir) Ranger Station in the Willamette National Forest.

#13 Horse Creek Campground Tree (Downed; Lost)

This 1906 tree was located at the Horse Creek Campground. It was carved when a new wagon road was being built to Foley Hot Springs. The tree has either been cut down or fell to natural causes and is now lost.

#14 Middle Horse Lake Tree (Alive)

This 1906 tree is located at Middle Horse Lake and is reportedly still alive, although it remains one of the most difficult of the trees to find.

#15 Java Lake Tree (Downed; Lost)

This 1906 tree, formerly located at Java Lake, has been cut down or fell to natural causes and is now lost.

#16 Separation Meadow Tree (Alive)

This 1907 tree is up the Foley Ridge Trail from McKenzie Bridge. The tree was blazed to indicate the meadowland owned by R. R. Hinton. Reportedly another tree blaze, from Hinton himself, which just reads “H” can be found nearby.

#17 Mesa Creek Tree (Downed; Preserved)

This 1907 tree formerly located along Mesa Creek has been cut down and preserved. It is currently in storage at the McKenzie River Station of Willamette National Forest.

#18 Houserock Meadow Tree (Alive)

This 1907 tree is reportedly still alive, but very windblown and difficult to read.

#19 Second Java Lake Tree (Alive)

This 1907 carving is located very near to the ground, as though it was carved by Bingham while lying down. It is located on the opposite side of the first Java Lake Tree (#15), which has since been downed.

#20 Farewell Reunion Tree (Alive)

The “Farewell Reunion Tree”, this was the last tree signed by Cy Bingham before he was transferred to the Blue Mountains, where he was promoted into a supervisory role. The tree was carved at the junction of the Mt. Ray trail and the trail between Waldo Lake and Salt Creek Falls. Cy’s pals in the Forest Service, Archie Knowles, Numa Nocoin, C. B. Harvey and Smith Taylor were all present for the September 8, 1908 signing. The Farewell Reunion Tree is also the first and only tree to officially acknowledge the existence of the United States Forest Service.

The inscription reads, “Sept 8 -08, Taylor and Nocin, Rang., Diamond Peak, Ranger Bingham, C. B. Harvey, A. O. Knowles, USFS”

 

 

 

#21 Steamboat Creek Tree (Downed; Supposedly Preserved)

This 1908 tree was reported by Nancy Moen as being cut down by the Forest Service with the intention of preserving the carving, but its whereabouts are unknown.

#22 Willamette Pass Tree (Downed; Lost)

This mysterious tree, which was not located by Bob Cox during his inventory for “Blazes on the Skyline,” was reportedly found by hunters in a meadow behind the ski area at Willamette Pass. Nancy Moen was part of a group, including Forest Service personnel, who subsequently visited the tree after the initial report. However on an attempt to return a second time, the tree had been cut down and the carving lost.