This past winter quarter, I was rattling on to my WR 122 students about the many advantages of having grown up in Kellogg, Idaho, no doubt boasting about the rotten egg stench of the air, the gray river running through town, and the privilege of being leaded, when one of my students said, "I live in Kellogg. I've never seen you."
"You live in Kellogg, now?" I looked like I'd just been told I was pregnant.
"Yeah." She recoiled a bit at my bitter beer face.
"You commute?" I looked like I'd been told I'd be having twins.
"I live in Eugene four days a week and the rest I'm in Kellogg."
"You drive over 500 miles a week to come to LCC?" I was starting to feel flattered.
"What? God, no. It's only an hour to Kellogg. I live in Kellogg, Oregon."
"There's a Kellogg, Oregon?"
"Hell yeah. It's down by Elkton, on the way to Sutherlin. I'm a volunteer fireman in Kellogg. I live there on the weekends with my folks."
I moved to Eugene in 1979 and I had never heard of Kellogg, Oregon, let alone been there.
I decided on July 30, 2008 that I'd rectify this situation.
I drove to Kellogg, OR.
I took Hwy 38 to Elkton and saw the sign I expected to turn south on Hwy 138. The traffic sign pointed to Sutherlin and Roseburg, but didn't mention Kellogg.
Odd, I thought.
I headed south.
Then I saw it:
My first thought: where's the population figure?
I looked to my left:
Then I saw a sign. Maybe if I follow it, I'll find Kellogg. Maybe I'll see the volunteer fire house!
But, about fifteen yards up Kellogg Drive, this:
Often when I was kid, adults would tell me to leave Kellogg after high school. "It's a dead end town." At least we had houses and churches and a firehouse.
Then, just west of the Dead End sign, I saw this and I knew that Kellogg, Oregon had a past:
It must have been a lovely town. Right after the "Kellogg" sign, a bridge spans the Umpqua River, shimmering on this late afternoon day:
And the wild plant life and blackberries thrived along Hwy 138:
I drove back to Elkton. I saw a volunteer firehouse. It might be where my student is headquartered. Maybe she works out of Sutherlin.
There hasn't been a firehouse in Kellogg for a long time.