Did we solve the mystery…?

Do you remember our post from about a year ago on the The Amazing Appearing and Disappearing Tree?

You know, the tree that wasn’t there in 1929…


Was there in the early 30’s…


And was gone by 1934…


Well, we may have just solved the mystery!  We recently stumbled across a 15 Oct, 1953 Observer article entitled 25 years progress at EOC Told by Member of Original Faculty.

The faculty member was John M. Miller who was, at the time the article was written, the director of teacher education at EOU (EOC in those days).

In the interview Professor Miller recalled the first Evensong and described how faculty and students brought in greenery to enhance an otherwise rather barren landscape.


If the Amazing Appearing and Disappearing Tree could be considered “greenery”, that just might explain where it came from and why it didn’t stay.  It would also explain the appearance and disappearance of the smaller, but significant nonetheless, trees on the hillside on either side of the staircase.  If this is, indeed, what happened, we’re pretty impressed with the effort all of this must have taken!

What do you think?  Did we solve the mystery?

All photos in this post courtesy EOU Pierce Library

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The Grand Staircase at Eastern Oregon University was designed by Oregon architect John Bennes and completed in 1929.  Sadly, it has deteriorated over the decades and was closed to public use in 2004.

The staircase is currently included on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places List.  In November of 2015 it was determined that the staircase was too far deteriorated for restoration to be a viable option, however efforts are underway to fund reconstruction.

We believe that the Grand Staircase has great potential as a cultural heritage tourism attraction and, as a result, could help boost the economy of La Grande and eastern Oregon.  Even now, deteriorating and no longer opened to the public, it is an architectural treasure worth seeing.  Reconstructed it could offer even more.

We started this blog and the accompanying Facebook page to raise awareness of the Grand Staircase and its architectural significance, post photographs and information of historical interest about the staircase, provide updates on the efforts to save our beloved “college steps” and share the stories and memories of those who love the staircase as much as we do.

To see a pictorial history of the staircase please visit our About page.

If you have any questions or have Grand Staircase memories, stories, or photos you would like to share please contact us at savethegrandstaircase@gmail.com.


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