Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Ralph I. Gifford Motion Pictures, circa 1925-1940

Scope and Content Note

The Ralph I Gifford Motion Picture Films consist of The New Oregon Trail and unedited motion film clips of a variety of subjects.

The New Oregon Trail is a tourism promotion film presented by the Oregon State Highway Department. The production was supervised and edited by Harold Bradley Say, photographed by Ralph I. Gifford, and distributed by Castle Films. The 16 mm Kodachrome color film, with soundtrack, is approximately 22 minutes long (800 feet). A digital duplication master and DVD use copy are available. The film is also available for viewing online.

The New Oregon Trail consists of footage of scenic and recreational attractions in Oregon. It includes: Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa Mountains; Celilo Falls, Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River Highway, Columbia River Gorge, and Bonneville Dam; Portland street scenes, waterfront, and Rose Festival activities; the Oregon Coast, Astoria Regatta, Seaside, sea lions, and lighthouses; the Oregon Caves and Crater Lake; the Rogue, Umpqua, McKenzie, and Metolius Rivers and numerous mountain lakes; the Crooked River Gorge and Fossil Beds in central Oregon; a geyser near Lakeview; birds at Malheur Lake; guests at dude ranches; and skiing in the Blue Mountains and on Mount Hood. Scenes of Astoria, Bend, and Salem are also included. The film strongly promotes sport and commercial fishing on the Oregon Coast and in Oregon rivers, streams, and lakes. Of special note are scenes of Native Americans fishing at Celilo Falls; state parks throughout Oregon; highways and bridges, especially on the Oregon Coast; Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge; and the Pendleton Round-Up. Much of the footage in this film is similar to still photographs taken by Ralph I. Gifford.

The unedited film clips were filmed in about 1925-1935 and consist of 7 reels (3200 feet total length) of original 35 mm nitrate motion picture film negatives. The clips total about 35 minutes running time. A digital duplication master and DVD use copy of the clips are available.

The clips depict a variety of subjects. Many pertain to alpine search and rescue and may have been shot to produce a training film. These clips include footage of mountaineers on Mount Hood; staged rescue of an injured climber; use of a portable radio to call for assistance; and evacuation of the injured man by car and airplane. One of the rescuers is wearing a "Crag Rats Hood River" patch. The Crag Rats were founded in 1926 and are the oldest mountain search and rescue organization in the United States.

This unedited footage also includes scenes of Benjamin A. Gifford at his home at Salmon Creek, Washington; two young women with a motorized toy boat in a stream; a home, pond, and natural spring or water feature; a family at the beach; two boys (with their mother?) going to school; an airplane taking off and landing at the beach and in a field; footage of Mt. Hood shot during an airplane flight; and a radio operator. There is also footage of a traffic survey station and motor truck scale, perhaps in Portland, that includes weighing, measurement, and inspection of a Carstens truck.

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