Road Trip to Oregon City

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Dear Liza,

On Saturday we all took a drive south. The weather was very cold and almost drizzling, but we were snug in our coats and hats, inside Miles the Volkswagen.

Our first stop was Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie. We have been buying Bob’s flour, muselix cereal and polenta at Safeway, and were happy to see a whole store filled with his healthy, tasty goodness. Entire shelves were full of different types of oatmeal, or gluten-free flours, or bulk spices. We bought whole nutmegs and cinnamon sticks for holiday baking, and a loaf of cinnamon bread….just for fun.

Further south, we stopped at  The End of the Oregon Trail Museum at Oregon City. When people were coming to Oregon from Missouri in the 1850s and 1860s, many of them ended up here, sick, tired, hungry, and desperate, after a trip of eight months. This museum showed what they had traveled with, what problems they had on the way, and how they were able to built new lives here in Oregon.

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Pioneer dolls
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The museum used cut-outs to show the ages of the people on the Trail.

It made me sad to think of all those who died and lost loved ones along the way, but proud that people had the courage and strength to just keep going.

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Dr. McLoughlin looked scary, but was a kind man

Further south, we learned about Dr. John McLoughlin, who is called The Father of Oregon. He ran a settlement and store called Fort Vancouver, just north of Portland, across the Columbia River.  He didn’t own the store himself, but ran it for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Dr. McLoughlin would give help and supplies to anyone who needed them, even if they couldn’t pay. He would loan boats to people stuck upriver so they could finish their trip safely. Since he worked for The Company and they didn’t like him giving things away for free, The Company fired him.

Dr. McLoughlin moved to some land he owned in Oregon City, right by Willamette Falls, and set up businesses. He ran a lumber mill from a waterwheel that used the Falls’ energy. He sold land and supplies and took care of people, this time on his own, and because the people he saved were able to live and become paying customers, he got very rich. He saw Oregon City become the largest city in Oregon for many years.

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Willamette Falls

We were able to visit his house,  which has been moved from its original location by the river to a prettier place, up on top of a bluff overlooking the town. We saw his medical office set-up, his wife’s sewing room, and their house furnished with their own things as it would have been when they were here. We visited his and his wife’s graves, which were also moved from a cemetery by the river to be by their house.

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We were on the ferry, with the river between us and our road!

By 4:00 it was starting to get dark, so we found the Canby Ferry (yes, a small, modern-day boat) which took us across the Willamette River. I think Auntie Bridgett was a little nervous, but I was excited! I’d never been on such a small boat in such a big river.

Grandpa Nelson drove us all home, we had dinner, and slept like rocks.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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