Twisted Trees

Twisted Trees at Fort Fisher BW

One of the things that makes a cast iron woman into a cast iron woman is the often harsh and abrasive circumstances she goes through to become a cast iron woman. For the women of pioneer trails, those circumstances may have been the difficulties of the trail — sickness and death and poverty and exhaustion and broken-down wagons. But for other women of other places and times, we each have our own harsh and abrasive circumstances that make us into a different variety of Cast Iron Woman.

My Aunt Ina was a Cast Iron Woman. Aunt Ina was born in 1905 on the coast of North Carolina. Aunt Ina’s Daddy, Harry, was the mailboat captain. Now, on the mainland, mail may have been delivered on foot or on horseback or eventually by motor vehicle. But when my Aunt Ina was a girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, mail was delivered by boat. There weren’t bridges then, or ferries. And so Uncle Harry loaded his boat with mail each morning — and sometimes, Little Ina — and headed out among the islands to deliver the mail — and sometimes medicines or supplies that were needed by the isolated islanders.

On those days that Little Ina (who really was LITTLE Ina — she never even reached five feet tall) accompanied her Daddy on his rounds, he would tell her stories about the islands. And he would also answer her questions about the world around her. Why is the water blue? Why does it rain? Where do the hermit crabs go when they disappear into the sand? And Daddy, why are the trees so twisted and bent over? That day, Little Ina learned an important lesson — inland, oak trees grow tall and straight, with limbs reaching up towards the sky. But out on the islands, where salty sea winds and storms and hurricanes dominate, oak trees have to fight for their survival. They bend with the wind. They twist and they turn. And so while they will never be straight or tall as the oaks inland, they are strong. They are statues which stand as living testimonies of how very strong and beautiful one becomes when they face harsh, abrasive circumstances — and storms — and survive.

The particular oaks trees in the picture above were photographed by me (Chief Storyteller, Sassy) at Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, NC. Aunt Ina never saw these trees — she was further north and east on the Outer Banks. But I am certain she would agree with me that these strong, but twisted trees, are mighty beautiful.

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Waterfall Wednesday: Fern Rock Falls

Waterfall Wednesday: Fern Rock Falls in the Oregon Coast Range.


This waterfall is located just off the side of Highway 6, about 29 miles east of Tillamook. There is no sign for it, just an unmarked pull off on the side of the road. No hike is required, so this is an easy waterfall for people of all fitness levels to visit on their way to or from the coast.

Categories: Ask Oregon, Oregon Coast, Random Photos, Spring, Waterfalls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Then and Now: First Presbyterian Church, New Bern, NC

The History:

The lot was purchased and the building started on First Presbyterian Church in New Bern, NC in 1819, with the cornerstone being laid on June 9th of that year. The church was dedicated on January 6, 1822.



Photo courtesy of

This photograph was taken by Rufus Morgan, sometime in the 1870s. He operated a photography studio in New Bern during that time. He later died on a trip to California in 1880.



This image was captured by our Director of Photography, Cari, during a Cast Iron Woman adventure to North Carolina in March of 2013. If you look closely, you can see our Chief Storyteller’s Mama, Carolyn, strolling up the sidewalk.

Wanna know more:

Visit the First Presbyterian Church of New Bern’s website to learn more about their history here.

Note: Like the Cast Iron Women on their Facebook page and follow their hashtag #CIWAdventures on Twitter and Instagram to see all their adventures as they connect the past to the present on the path to the future.

Use  the #CIWAdventures hashtag and share your own “Cast Iron Women Adventures” with us. We would love to see them!

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Pistol Packin Mamas

Bee, Cari, and I (Sassy) love learning from the other “Cast Iron Women” in our lives. Hearing the stories of women who came before us and overcame difficult circumstances teaches us valuable lessons and gives us hope that we will also be able to overcome the difficult circumstances we face. And so it’s our pleasure to also share those stories with you.

One of the characteristics of Cast Iron Women is that they’re tough. They’ve learned how to be tough because it’s the only way to survive. And the Cast Iron Women of the 1800s definitely live up to that reputation.

Once upon a time (in the early 1800s), when the menfolk would go away to hunt or trap food for their families, that obviously left the women alone at home. If someone came along meaning to do harm to the family or their home, what was a “defenseless” woman supposed to do, scream for help from a neighbor? (Oh, wait. Neighbors didn’t live as close then as they do now. That could be a problem…) Or what if a bear showed up? Or foxes trying to raid the chickens? What was the poor woman supposed to do?

Let me introduce you to the black powder rifle:

My friend (and fellow modern-day Cast Iron Woman, Barbara Capps of Eastern North Carolina, explained how this process worked:

“You used a lead pot over a fire to melt any steel you could find to pour into molds for the ball. You’d wrap the ball in patches (preferably made of silk) about two inches square and push them down into the barrel and pack it in there with a rod. Then, the black powder goes up near the cocking mechanism and it’s sealed with a tiny metal cap to fire it. Those rifles will knock you on your butt depending on how much black powder you use!”


Pioneer Woman Hunting Photo courtesy of the Mule Deer Foundation.

I don’t know about you, but the next time bears show up in my yard unannounced, I want Barbara on my side!

Chief Storyteller,


Don’t forget to come “like” our Facebook page so that you can keep up with our adventures. We are also ecstatic to announce that we’ve launched our Instagram! Come see us there! 

Categories: Cast Iron Women | 1 Comment

Then and Now: Crooked River Railroad Bridge

One of the things you will often see on Cast Iron Women is photo essays of our Cast Iron Women adventures. The first, by our Director of Photography, Cari, is below.

Note: Like the Cast Iron Women on their Facebook page and follow their hashtag #CIWAdventures on Twitter and Instagram to see all their adventures as they connect the past to the present on the path to the future.

Use  the #CIWAdventures hashtag and share your own “Cast Iron Women Adventures” with us. We would love to see them!

The History:

The Crooked River Railroad Bridge crosses 320 feet above the waterway of the same name between Madras and Terrebonne in Central Oregon. Built by the Oregon Trunk Railway, and designed by Ralph Modjeski (architect of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge), it became the second highest railroad span in the United States when it was completed in 1911.



Photograph courtesy of OSU Special Collections and Archive:

This uncredited photo shows the first train to cross the Crooked River Bridge.


The below image was captured by Cari, our Director of Photography, in April 2014. If you look closely, you can see several peaks of the Cascade Mountains hiding behind the clouds in the background.


In all it’s full color splendor, the below photo shows sunset on Mount Washington, as framed by the historic railroad bridge.


Wanna learn more?

Click here to learn more about this past of this historic bridge.

Categories: Cast Iron Women, Central Oregon, Then and Now | Leave a comment