Tag: Lorane Oregon


by Pat Edwards

Those who know me are aware that the most important thing in my life is “family.” From the very beginning, I was blessed with a loving family. I not only had an adoring mother and father, but I was raised with an older brother, Jim, and a younger sister, Barbara. We siblings were all five years apart; I was the middle child. When I think of my childhood, my memories always include my close relationships with my paternal grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. Our life revolved around shared family times – holiday get-togethers, travel, camping trips, lake fishing and a move every few years. My maternal grandparents and extended family lived in Southern California and, although we visited frequently, our relationship was always long-distance and not as close.

My father never seemed to be able to put down permanent roots. He was a good provider and always had a job, but he always seemed to have a bit of the wanderlust inside. Wherever we moved, whether it was to Lebanon, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona, Eureka, California, Portland, Oregon or Eugene, Grandma and Grandpa Smith were always close by or frequent visitors. Grandma Smith was always my role model. Even though she’s been gone a long time, I still miss her.

One of my first memories was sitting on the broad back of old Bid, half of Grandpa’s work team of Champ and Bid on their ranch located near Lorane, Oregon. I have no doubt that is where my deep love for horses and farm life was born. I read every horse book I could find in the libraries nearby. Even though my childhood, except for that short stint on the ranch, was spent in urban areas, my dream was to someday have my own horse. That didn’t happen until my junior year of high school, but I’ve had one ever since.

Grandma Smith and I were pals. We both loved to play games and our favorite, when it was just the two of us, was to play “Double Solitaire” in which each of us tried to beat the other in adding ascending cards on the piles in front of us. The games would get so intense, we frequently laughed hard enough that tears would begin running down our cheeks.

I remember how much I enjoyed helping Grandma do her laundry in the old ringer washer and hang it out to dry on the clothesline in the backyard.

While we were outside, we’d always make sure to pick a nasturtium leaf for Petey, her canary, and his song would always accompany whatever activities we happened to be doing, almost always in her kitchen.

Grandma and Grandpa always had a dog and while I was growing up, it was a golden cocker spaniel named Bonnie. One of my favorite activities while at their house was to take Bonnie for a walk. Frequently, my sister, who I’ve always called B.J., and cousin, Carol, would join me on the walks around the 16th and Willamette area of Eugene where Grandpa and Grandma’s house was located, and since Carol lived close-by on 22nd and Emerald, she would usually bring her dog with her.

So, this is the basis from which my love of family has evolved. My own adulthood began on a rocky note when I put my first baby up for adoption. It’s an event that has marked my life and left me with a feeling of guilt, even though I know in my heart that it was the right decision at the time. Stacey re-entered our lives over 20 years ago and I feel so blessed that she and her family have joined ours.

I married a man who had the same love of family that I did. Jim grew up in a large, close-knit family of eight children and both of us wanted to put down roots and give our own children the kind of childhood that would allow them to explore possibilities and grow in whatever directions their interests and talents would take them. Once again we were blessed.

In fact, I feel blessed in so many ways and am very much aware that others have not had the close relationships with parents and grandparents that I have had over the years. But, does that mean that they cannot ever experience “family?” So, what is family, really?

I don’t think any of us need to have genetic or blood ties to be family. To me, “family” denotes those people who you grow to love; those you have bonded with in some way. “Family” keeps growing to include not only the group you were born into, but all of those who you have a special connection to.

I keep adding to my family. Over the years, I have felt the closeness and warmth of good friends even though we don’t get to see each other often. To me, they are part of one my families, because I now realize that I have many. I have my immediate family, my extended family, my Groundwaters family, my community family, my UO Neuroscience family, my writing family and all of those special people who have entered my life over the years and have stayed close even though we don’t see each other often. This is what family should mean to each of us.

I am truly blessed, and Grandma would be so proud!

Sweet Lorane Community News, June 25, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
June 25, 2020
By Pat Edwards

Beginning 06-24-2020

Drivers coming to and leaving Lorane to the north will need to plan for a little extra time these days. The Lane County Territorial Highway Project has finally begun in earnest and Phase One—the realignment and straightening of the curves at Stony Point (also spelled “Stoney Point”), about 3 miles north of town, is expected to continue through the summer and into the fall.

The entire project involves the stretch of Territorial Highway lying between Gillespie Corners and the community of Lorane and will be done in four phases over the next 3 years. Stony Point is the most critical and urgent part of the project, so it comes first.

Historically, early roads in the area, built by the first white settlers, usually traversed the sides of foothills. This was done because of the better drain-off on the hillsides during wet weather. Since gravel was not used until later years, the dirt roads in the flat lands became quagmires during rainy periods and dusty in the summer.

The Stony Point section of Territorial Road took a different route before 1920. As the original road started to ascend, its route cut farther east and went through the properties at the top of the hill and came out just south of the entrance to Territorial Lane where it continued on to Lorane as it does today.

Stony Point’s current route, climbs the hill leading into Lorane and has been a series of sharp, sweeping curves. But for several decades now, the road bed on the, then, state-owned highway, began slipping in three places. ODOT would arrive on an increasingly frequent basis to fill it with more gravel and pavement which, in turn, would once again slip off into the field below. The road is narrow and there were no shoulders going around those curves. The fog lines are right on the edges of downhill drop-offs on the west side and steep banks border the east side of the road.

During the last 20 years or so, traffic has been increasing, due to the popularity of our local wineries and access to the shortcut to the southbound I-5 freeway. Territorial Highway has become a popular route for bicyclists, too, so when the State of Oregon agreed to trade the oversight of Territorial Highway to Lane County for Beltline Road in Eugene, the county put a priority on realigning the road for safety’s sake. A large grant was obtained for the project and June 2020 was set for it to begin.

According to Lane County’s Summer 2020 Project Update, Phase One will soften the sharp curves of Stony Point and widen the road with shoulders and guardrails. The road will be stabilized to prevent future landslides and a retaining wall will be installed across the largest slide area. Flexible mesh (geotextile) material will be used to reinforce the soil. The new road will be built on top of the reinforced soil and the retaining wall.
During the construction, one lane of gravel road will be open for “bi-directional” travel and flaggers, pilot cars and temporary traffic signals will be used as needed. Lane County advises that bicyclists use alternative routes as the work zone will be steep and hard to navigate on a bicycle.

The county is hoping that Phase One will be completed by late fall 2020 so that Phase Two, between Gillespie Corners (where Lorane Highway meets Territorial Highway) and Easy Acres Drive, can begin on time next spring or summer in 2021. That section will address the frequent flooding we have during rainy winters that goes over the road as well as softening the curves in that area where accidents are common.

Phase Three, scheduled for 2022, will take out some of the sharp curves between Easy Acres Drive and Hamm Road, at the north end of Stony Point, and all phases will widen the road considerably with generous shoulders.

The final phase will finish up between Stony Point, to the south, and Cottage Grove-Lorane Road in 2023.

For those of you traveling in our area, please be aware that construction will be on-going for quite some time and expect delays. And, most of all… please drive carefully. Help us keep our family, friends and neighbors safe during this time.

In Memory of Estelle Counts

By Pat Edwards

Stell & Lloyd Counts

Stell and Lloyd Counts on their wedding day

It never occurred to me that Stell Counts would ever die. Knowing Stell – loving Stell – I just assumed that she would always be there. She emitted such feisty energy, such excitement for new things, and such love for her family and community, that I could not imagine her any other way. And, you know what? I believe that I was right! Stell may have left her body, but in her heaven, she is still with us.

I am currently reading a book called The Lovely Bones about a 14-year old girl who narrates the story as she looks down from heaven after her premature death. In the book, she describes her heaven as being anything she wants it to be… that heaven is different for each person. The girl chooses to spend her time in heaven observing her family and friends and the manner in which they deal with her death. For Stell, I know her heaven is similar, for I don’t think she would have wanted to live anywhere else in any other way than she actually did, and the people in her family and community will always remain the most important to her.

Jim and I feel an especially deep loss – the loss of not being able to see that wonderful lady coming into the store or attending a school function. She has had such a profound impact on our lives over the past 30 years that we will continue to look for her each day. Even though we made some drastic changes when we converted the Mitchell Store into the Lorane Family Store, she was always a vocal supporter. When Jim said that he was going to have to tear down the old store (which was gradually falling into the creek) and build a new store, her excitement and encouragement accompanied him every step of the way. When friends and acquaintances would reminisce about the old store and how differently it was “back then”, she would admonish them that “Jim has his own way of doing things and is doing a wonderful job!” When the family sold the family homes across from the store and the buyer defaulted, she would not hear of putting them back on the market. She wanted Jim to buy them and despite my hesitancy to take on rentals, she insisted that no one but Jim should have them. Between the two of them, I was railroaded into signing the contract even though I kicked and screamed all of the way.

When Nancy, Marna, and I conceived of writing the history of the Lorane area, it was Stell and Lloyd that we turned to. They knew all of the “old timers” and it was their shared confidence in us that allowed us to pre-sell enough of our books to pay for the first printing. Stell dug deep into her memory and her treasure trove of pictures and supplied us with information and leads to track down the early families of the area. When we found pictures in which people were not identified, Stell took on the project of finding out who they were. When we began planning the 1987 Lorane Centennial celebration, Stell and Lloyd were active participants and the excitement that she generated kept us all on track and helped to keep at bay any discouragement we felt in the huge task of planning.

In recent years, as her health began to fail and she was no longer able to drive, she spent more time at home, but that didn’t stop her from continuing to impact the lives of those around her. Kids, including our own grandkids, from the Lorane Elementary School, frequently stopped by her house to visit with Stell on their way home from school. She always had a cookie or a snack for them and they loved to sit with her and visit for awhile before continuing on home. She was ageless to them and helped to bridge the proverbial gap between youth and the elderly that many of us fail to even attempt.
If Lorane was a bigger community, we would be naming a building or a special project after her… “The Estelle Counts Community Center” or “The Estelle Counts Memorial.” But, we are a small community and since most of us here knew and loved her, our memorial to her should be to not let her energy or love of community die. If each one of us vows to get involved in preserving the links between the past, present, and the future of Lorane, it will evolve, as Stell would have wanted, but it will also remain a community where we can all feel we belong. And, for each positive involvement, you can be sure that Stell will be smiling from her heaven.

So, if you’re watching us now, Stell, God Bless You! You did it your way, and that’s the most any of us can ever hope for!

Estelle Mitchell Counts (1918-2002)