OBH History

February 1998 marks the three year anniversary of the Oregon BushHackers. Given this historic event, two of the founding members of the group have drafted a document which outlines some of the history of the group. This might serve as the basis for the future chronicals of our growing and long-lasting group.

A Brief History of the
Oregon BushHacker's Offroad Group
Version 1.0 (January 1998)
Bill Lewey (blewey@peak.org)
Rick Anderson (ricka@mdhost.cse.tek.com)

Back in late 1994, the World Wide Web was non-existant and electronic mail was found only in government, education and large corporations. The closest thing to the WWW was Usenet, a collection of nearly 1,000 newsgroups. While there were definitely some automotive newsgroups, it is doubtful there were any 4x4-only ones.

The Offroad Mailing List, which was started way back in 1991, was a moderated mailing list meant to bring together offroad enthusiasts from around the globe. At the time we joined the list, there were less than 50 subscribers (today there are over 1,000). Bill, owning a Jeep, also joined the off-shoot Jeep Mailing List (jeep-l) in November 1994.

It was on the Offroad Mailing List where we first met. Around January 1995, both of us noticed a few signatures indicating other offroad enthusiasts living in Oregon and Washington. Bill posted a note asking if anyone would be interested in doing some 4x4 exploring. At the time, Bill knew of some trails or "play" areas, but knew there must be more. Besides Rick, Brian Heifner, Chris Sutton, Larry Soo and a few other people responded. These latter individuals were from Seattle, Washington. The first trip was proposed by the Washington boys was to Elbe Hills in Washington. After some planning we started to learn that this trail was both far away, very difficult and for Rick (with a full-sized Blazer) and Brian (with an F-150), it was too narrow.

Not wanting to let our planned weekend go to waste, Rick pulled-out his Green Trails map and found an interesting loop trail near Hood River on Middle Mountain. Brian and Bill agreed this was a good destination and Rick published the trip notification not only to Bill and Brian, but also to the Offroad Mailing List. This netted us one last minute entrant, Matt Nelson, who joined-us on our first few trips in his early 70's Land Cruiser.

It was with much anticipation each of us met at Starvation Creek State Park on I-84 for the Middle Mountain trip. Rick recalls wondering how "hard core" these guys are going to be. It ended-up that all four of us were relatively new to wheeling and our vehicles were similarily equipped. The Middle Mountain trip ended-up be a very memorable one for all of us and proved to be a great place to get our feet wet. There was only one stuck on this trip when Brian got hung-up in the trees. Rick video taped much of the action on this trip.

Meanwhile, up in Washington, Elbe Hills was dishing out all she had. Their trip report was included with our Trip 1 report just because it was part of the original intinerary.

After the first trip, the group agreed that we would try to have one trip every month. We agreed to split the organizational responsibilities between us (and the "trail boss" moniker was coined). We also agreed that someone should write a trip report for each trip (after the third trip we decided newbies should do the report after their second trip with us). And with that, our group was born in February 1995.

Bill handled organization duties for the second trip. It was to Valsetz, a ghost town in the coastal mountians of Oregon.. This trip, in March 1995, was attended by Bill, Rick and Matt (in what would be his last trip with us; he lost email access soon after this trip), as well as newcomer Tom Brown in his Jeep Cherokee.

Brian planned the third trip in April 1995 to Triangulation Peak in the Tillamook State Forest. It was on this trip that George Reiswig, a New Mexico transplant, joined us. George was a bit more hard core than the rest of us and he taught us a thing or two about wheeling (including the advantages of airing down ones tires). It was George, however, who managed to get stuck the worst on this trip...

Our fourth trip was orignially planned for the Mt. Hood area. However, when we got the trailhead at the start of some powerlines, we found it gated. Rick, frantically trying to find another suitable trail, lead us to the Columbia River Gorge. This ended-up being one of the best trails we've been on. Unfortunately it was closed soon after we ran it. This was Rick and Bill's fourth trip, George's second and for the "virgin" of the group, Guy Hammer in his mid-70's Ford Bronco, his first run. Over the years, Guy has contributed much to the technical discussions on our mailing list and has attended more official trips than anyone else.

Given this was George's second trip, he handled scribe duties. The group had not been named until George suggested it in the Trip 4 report (6/24/95) where he wrote: "Group: Portland BushHackers (You guys made me write; I take poetic license What else would you call a bunch of wheeling geeks?"). George had heard of the Bushwackers and given that we were all techie types, Hackers had a ring to it. There was much discussion about whether we should be the Portland BushHackers or the Pacific Northwest BushHackers, but in the end, we felt Oregon BushHackers was most appropriate.

Also by this time it was established that Rick was the defacto "prez" for various reasons such as organizing trips, recruiting new members, video taping our runs, writing some basic rules and other officer-like duties.

In the early days of the group, Rick video taped almost every trip. Rick would frame grab from his 8mm camera and would post pictures of each trip. After your third trip with the group, Rick would send you an official video tape of all our past trips. This continued until about trip #15 when the number of group members became too large. Rick still tries to keep attendance records of our formal group outtings.

Peter Burke set-up an FTP site for off-road pictures in mid-1995. This was announced via the Offroad Mailing List and the BushHackers immediately started posting our trip reports and pictures at didnt.doit.wisc.edu. This has served as the primary archive for our trip reports and pictures ever since.

Roger Christal made a key contribution when he set up th bushhacker-l mailing list on 11/3/95. It instantly made life easier because the group was 21 members strong and mailings were getting hard to manage, so people were missing some conversations. Imagine having to keep track of 21 email addresses just to post something to the list! Almost instantly after setting up the mailing list, the group grew to 30 people and by the end of the first year, we grew to about 40 people. At the end of the second year we had about 70 people and as we close on our third year, we have 90 members.

Another milestone occured in late 1995 when Bill designed the OBH logo. Bill must be a natural graphical designer, because only one logo was presented and everyone loved it immediately. The logo, consisting of Mt. Hood, some 4x4 tracks and four trees in an Oregon raindrop, was available only in magnetic form. While this was expensive ($25 each), at the time we weren't sure how long the group was going to be around, so we were a little leary about putting something permanent on our trucks. As of October 1997, 33 logos have been distributed. By the way, the five trees on the logo represent some of the original BushHackers - Bill Lewey, Rick Anderson, Brian Heifner, George Rieswig, and Guy Hammer.

It was during trip #9b that the group handed-out its first nickname. Guy was prowling around in his 4WD Suburu in the Trask Area and managed to negotiate down a rather steep and rutted trail. Rick was changing a blown tire and the Guy sounded like a pinball coming down the trial. The trail was labeled Pinball and Guy got the nickname Pinball Wizard, which was later shortened to just Pinball.

The group finally went on the World Wide Web in 1996, when Dave Trulsen volunteered part of his homepage and he designed and implemented our web page. This was key to centralizing our group data. In late 1997 Matt Bateman took over webmaster responsibilities and wrote some scripts to improve updates on the web page. Links to an electronic trailmap of Tillamook State Forest OHV area was also added.

A couple of times during the history of the group we have discussed becoming more formal, electing officers, drafting by-laws and collecting dues. In fact, we came very close to doing this after the group had been around about a year. But in the end, the informal atmosphere of the group has always proven to be our biggest advantage.

Even though we have decided that we don't want to become a formal club, a few group rules have emerged over the years. For example, our group believes in the principles of Tread Lightly. We also believe the drugs and alcohol don't mix with offroading. Finally, we strongly believe in a family atmosphere during our events. During the course of time there were many contributions to the group by many of its members. Some examples are webspace, pictures, videos, trip reports, vendor reports, product advice, trail advice, mechanical help and garage space.

The TSF Trail Planning Group has helped establish new trail systems in the Diamond Mill and Trask areas. There are also individuals who participate in TSF trail and campground patrols, TSF trail maintenance and political events (read: road closures). Several group members are individuals members of Tread Lightly, the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, the United Four Wheel Drive Association and the Blue Ribbon Coalition. Some group members are also members of other local clubs.

This group has always been a network of friends. There have been times when tempers have flared and some have left our group during its growth. But for the most part, the Oregon BushHackers have proven what technology can do to bring people together for a better more enhanced enjoyment of the great pastimes.

Happy Trails to the Oregon BushHackers!
Bill and Rick

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