Carl Barks Historical Tour

Tue 5/5/2015

Last week I flew up to Seattle, where I emptied my parents' house of all my remaining childhood stuff, and then my father and I drove it all back down here to California.

As we were planning out our route, I noticed that we would be coming very close to Grants Pass, Oregon at the end of our first day of driving. I happened to know that this was the final resting place of my all-time favorite cartoonist, Carl Barks, so we decided to plan our trip so that we could visit his grave to pay our respects. We also decided to swing about two hours out of our way the next morning to visit Merrill, Oregon, where Carl Barks was born.

I called the Hillcrest Memorial Park beforehand because the cemetery is over 30 acres in size. They very helpfully gave us a general area to search. We arrived around 4pm and it only took about 15 minutes to find his grave site. He is buried under a beautiful pine tree, right next to his wife, Garé. I never got to meet Mr. Barks while he was alive, but his work has influenced my life in more ways than I can say. It was very moving to pay my respects to this great man.

I've created a Flickr Set with photos from this trip and specific directions for finding the grave site, with the hope that other Barks fans who may want to pay their respects will be able to do so more easily.

The next morning we headed to Merrill, Oregon which was just two hours East, over a winding road that went up through a mountain pass. We managed to find the local library in the basement of the Merrill Civic Center building on main street. There, a very helpful librarian dug up a special edition of the Lost River Star (Merrill's now-defunct newspaper) published in 1995 all about Carl Barks. I've created a PDF of the document if anyone would like to read it - it's got some interesting history about Barks and his relationship with Merrill.

Based on some vague directions we attempted to find the original Barks family homestead, which was "falling apart" on "the edge of town" but after criss-crossing Merrill three or four times we're not sure we ever found it. Anyway, it was very interesting to see the area where he grew up. It really put a lot of his early stories into perspective.

We made it safely back to Alameda, though I've been sick with a nasty cold since we returned. I'm slowly on the mend, which is good because I've got a lot of work to get done in the next couple of weeks, before Claire and I head out on an adventure. But more about that later, for now it's back to my various projects and teaching assignments. Everyone is working hard as the Spring semester comes to a close. It's going to be a busy summer!

1 comment on this entry

Wow, I'll definitely have to visit that part of the state now that I live in Oregon!

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