Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area: Sumpter, Oregon

In the middle of the 19th century, all around our newly established state, people began discovering gold. The southern Oregon gold rush in Josephine County began in the 1850s, Bohemia Johnson discovered gold in the Bohemia mines in 1863, and the town of Canyon City in eastern Oregon swelled to a population of 10,000 (larger than Portland at the time) once gold was discovered there. Further east, in the town of Sumpter, gold was discovered in 1862. Mining for gold in Sumpter happened very … [Read more...]

Lost Towns: Lane County Historical Museum Exhibit

In the days before log trucks, automation, or heli-logging, sawmills were built closer to the woods. Here in south Lane County, they sprang up along the O&SE Rail line (now the Row River Trail) to take advantage of the railroad. In some instances, whole communities would surround the mill, like the sawmill at Prune Hill. When I think of early sawmills, I usually think of teams of guys working big saws or riding logs in the mill ponds. With those men, though, came families. Women worked in … [Read more...]

Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site: John Day, Oregon

By today’s standards, John Day Oregon would be considered a small town and in the 1880s it was even smaller, with a population under 300 people. However just outside the city limits along the banks of Canyon Creek stood a bustling community of at least 1,000 Chinese immigrants, the largest Chinese community in eastern Oregon. The people living in this community were almost entirely male and were lured to the region for the same reasons that many of the white settlers were -- Gold! The rush … [Read more...]

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum: Florence

Old Town in Florence is usually abuzz with tourists enjoying the shops, restaurants, and views of the Siuslaw River along Bay Street. For me, part of the charm of Old Town is the sense of history that I get as I walk down the street or dine in one of the restaurants. Located in the heart of Old Town is the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. I've heard a lot of good things about this museum, so last month I was glad to spend a few hours there with my family. I enjoyed learning more about the history of … [Read more...]

Linn County Historical Museum: Brownsville

I have read many good things about the Linn County Historical Museum; so earlier this year when I found myself in Brownsville doing research on their Stand By Me filming locations, I made sure to have time for a visit. Since 1984, the museum has been located in the old Brownsville train depot (circa 1895) which was moved to this location along with six old Southern Pacific rail cars. The whole museum lies in these seven structures. The woman who greeted me when I walked in the door gave a … [Read more...]