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MURDOCK TALKS "The Ice Age Oregon Trail"

The rich soil of the Willamette Valley is from eastern Washington, brought here by the ice age Lake Missoula Floods. It was this soil that attracted the Oregon Trail pioneers to become part of one of the largest non-forced migrations in all of history. But did you know that from Pendleton to the The Dalles some of the very trails the pioneers used were actually channels of those very floods? Join us as Rick Thompson takes us on a visual journey with photos, LIDAR and maps along the canyons, through the water gaps and next to the giant gravel bars the pioneers saw as they traveled the flood channels carved long before they arrived.

Being intrigued by the land formations, huge boulders and glacial erratics in this area he embarked on a 25-year study of the effects in NW Oregon and SW Washington of the largest ice age flood which propelled over 500 cubic miles of water, ice, rock and mud across eastern Washington, raced through the Columbia River Gorge, covered the Willamette Valley with up to 400 feet of water and left gravel bars miles wide and hundreds of feet high, giant current ripples, many flood channels and dotted the land with glacial erratics – rocks not indigenous to this area.  Though geology is not his profession, the Lake Missoula Floods have become his passion.  

Mr. Thompson is President of the Lower Columbia Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute which holds monthly public educational meetings in Tualatin.  He was instrumental in identifying and scripting signage for several significant glacial erratics in Washington County; has been interviewed for a number of newspaper articles and was twice featured on Grant McOmie’s “Grant’s Getaways” television program.  

He has created self-guided driving tours based on field trips he led and has authored the book:  “GigaFlood – The Largest of the Lake Missoula Floods in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington” which is illustrated with his own photographs, maps and diagrams to show you the evidence still visible today from this catastrophic flood which so affected the Northwest.  

His website is: