Colonel Summers Park

Dear Liza,

In our neighborhood there is a park I haven’t told you about yet. It is called Colonel Summers Park.

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Himself

When it was developed as a park in 1921, it was called Belmont Park, because it was on Belmont Street. But in 1938 the name was changed to honor Colonel Owen Summers.

Colonel Summers was a Civil War veteran who, in 1883, combined all the local militias in Oregon (volunteer soldiers) into one group that was The Oregon National Guard. At the beginning of the Spanish American war in 1898, Colonel Summers organized this group into the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry Regiment, with himself in command. They were the first American soldiers to sail to the Philippines in that war. After many engagements, Colonel Summers and his men accepted the surrender of 15,000 Spanish soldiers.

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Bioswale and paved area

The soldiers who fought under Colonel Summers’s command remained loyal to him even after the war. In 1903, General Beebe, another famous military man, was chosen to be the Grand Marshall of a parade honoring President Teddy Roosevelt to Portland.

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Community Garden

The Spanish American War veterans saw this as an insult to their beloved commander and at first refused to be in the parade if Colonel Summers wasn’t the Grand Marshall. But Colonel Summers refused the post, asking General Beebe to remain. The veterans, following their commander’s order, marched in the parade without him.

The park named after Colonel Summers had been getting a little worn in recent years. The huge boulder from Kelly Butte with a plaque of himself had been spray painted. The grassy area had been flooded and was muddy or dusty, depending on the season. But a new makeover has made it lovely again. The boulder has been cleaned, and the flood-prone grassy area has been outfitted with a bioswale to collect rain and a paved bike and skateboard area. There is a basketball court and a fenced community garden where people can grow flowers, fruits, or vegetables. There is even a public toilet that cleans itself after every use! img_6991.jpg

I am happy to see that the city is working to make sure all the parks in Portland are safe and welcoming places to play, read, work, and just enjoy this wonderful area.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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.

Love,

Grandma Judy