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Share Your Story • Richard Cornford • December 10, 2012

Pine Mountain Observatory

Millican was a small town 26 miles east of Bend Oregon that my family owned. The only light pollution came from a Standard Oil sign in front of the store. I was ten years old in 1957, and loved spending summer nights staring at the sky. My Uncle Orville came for a visit that year, and one night came out into the darkness and pointed to the Milky Way. He explained the rotation of the earth and planets around the sun, as I stood in awe. I was hooked from that day forward. A few years later, the University Of Oregon built the Pine Mountain Observatory nine miles from Millican. I was hired to haul water from our well to the Observatory cistern. That first winter, I met Mr. Bird, who was the caretaker of the observatory. He invited me to come and view the stars through the telescope. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I still love to spend nights just looking UP. If you ever find yourself in Central Oregon, make plans to visit the Pine Mountain Observatory, and stop at the site of the Old Millican store, where a young observer began a lifelong love of the night sky.

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