Fanno Creek's headwaters in late June, 2007
Fanno Creek’s headwaters are located in a weed-choked ditch near the intersection of Hillsdale Highway and Old Bertha Road in Portland. When I first stumbled upon them in 2007 (above), they were buried under a deep mat of ivy that had over-grown a downed wire fence. If I hadn’t taken a fall right on top of them, I would have never noticed they were there. It was summer and only a little trickle of water was flowing out of the pipe in the hillside and into the splash-pool shown here. Every thing below the surface of the water was covered in a thick coating of what I thought was some kind of algae. I went back for a visit just a few months ago and found a somewhat different scene. The wire fence was gone and most of the heavier brush had been cleared from the area. I was surprised to find that the splash-pool itself is much larger than it was five years ago. That first visit had been in June of 2007, and this one was in August of 2012. But the ivy was still there, in abundance, and the rocks were still covered in that brown ooze. As it turns out, however, that brown material is formed by a variety of iron loving bacteria (Sphaerotilus-Leptothrix?) that are encountered frequently all over the Fanno Creek watershed.