Oregon Vortex, July 1964
By Zuerrnnovahh-Starr Livingstone
March 2, 2005
I was thirteen years old when the six in our family visited the Oregon Vortex in July of 1964. Traveling south along Interstate 5 from Vancouver BC we saw large billboards inviting people to visit the "World Famous Oregon Vortex". I remember seeing a story on the vortex on a TV program like "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." I persisted asking dad and mom to stop at Gold Hill Oregon and see the "World Famous" tourist stop.
We pulled into a gravel parking lot and saw a schedule of times for guided tours. In luck there was a tour just starting. There were only a handful of cars in the lot and the tour was included two dozen people. The guide was a man in his forties wearing a beat up Stetson hat. He looked like a gold panner.
We walked through the gate and on an elevated boardwalk on the side of a narrow valley. The trees were mainly second growth fir. It appeared that the area had been stripped of trees a couple of generations earlier. We walked towards a strange looking unpainted rustic cabin. Nothing appeared square on the structure. The guide said something about the builder being a bit strange. The trees around the cabin were misshaped, twisted and spooky. Of course this all could have been tourist trap "theater" as it is easy to make young trees grow in unnatural ways.
Inside the cabin were maps of the magnetic vortex. One looked like a map used by pilots. The guide said the vortex was about one hundred yards in diameter with its vertex hundreds of feet under the side of the hill and extended thousands of feet up. He said there was a theory about a magnetic meteorite of many tons far underground. The vortex was shaped like a tornado with distinct "walls". Inside the vortex the magnetic deviation was strong and outside the vortex the magnetic phenomena soon abated. Even at thirteen I knew that there was a high degree of strangeness here.
There were magnetic compasses spread out through the area. Even compasses a few feet apart were showing "north" as different directions. The guide said the magnetic forces spiralled inside the vortex. He led us to the center of the vortex where a wooden platform had been built. There were a number of different objects on the platform showing the many experiments which had happened over the years. The most remarkable phenomena was where the guide took an ordinary broom and stood it unsupported on its bristles. He said that the broom had lost its ability to "stand" for months after the 9.1 Richter Good Friday Alaska Earthquake. He added there are unusual gravitational effects generated by the rotating magnetic field.
Near the platform was a horizontal wooden plank about twenty feet long laying across the boardwalk. The guide asked my sister and I to stand back to back and show that we were the same height. Then he instructed us to walk the opposite ends of the plank and stand facing each other. He asked the people in the tour, "Who looks taller?" Then he asked my sister and I to change ends. Again he asked, "Who looks taller?" Then he placed us back to back again to show that we were the same height. When I was near the center of the vortex, I looked shorter, and when my sister was near the center she looked shorter. The guide said that California physicists had set up the plank and tested this phenomena and said that there was either magnetic bending of light or actual compression of matter towards the center of the vortex. The guide added something about Einstein's theories and the curvature of space. (Years later I saw that those theories do not apply to this phenomena.)
The guide said that water dowsers had done some work in the vortex. Using L-rods they had marked out the extent, strength and direction of the vortex. There were ribbons tied to bushes showing the vortex wall.
The builder of the cabin no longer lived on the property. He found the land too spooky. Orbs of light were often seen. The native tribes shunned the area. The guide said other vortices throughout the Cascades associated with the volcanoes from Shasta to Baker. The nearest volcano to Gold Hill was Crater Lake. He added the USGS, FAA and Air Force had done a lot of work with sensitive magnetometers had plotted out all the Cascade vortices after WWII. Due to government and scientific interest in vortices and in the Oregon Vortex in particular the land may be fenced and shut down as a tourist site. The guide was sad when he said this.
At the end of the tour the guide looked at his watch and asked us, "How long was the tour?" We all felt that it had been short, too short. He said the tour had been over thirty minutes. He finished by saying that time is altered in the vortex and that clocks do not keep good time in the cabin.
As we walked back to back to our blue 62 Mercury Meteor I could see a bemused smile on my father's face. It was as if he had seen through the gimmickry and doubted that there was anything strange about the "tourist trap". After all magnetic fields are not shaped like spinning cones. They are toroidal ! To me the high order of strangeness left an indelible mark on my memory. Forty one years later I am living inside another spinning magnetic vortex, but this one is eight miles in diameter not the one hundred yards of the Oregon Vortex.
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