NCU’s newly-minted History Club commemorated the sesquicentennial Eugene’s founding on October 17, 1862 with its first off-campus adventure. Ten students and two faculty members began the celebration by participating in the dedication of the new public art installation at the entry to the University District, the Giant Blue Herron. We noted that the bird appropriately sported NCU colors! Lots of happy music and speeches.
We continued the trek with a visit to the Lane County Historical Museum, drinking in the rich and amazing history of our place. At the entrance to the museum stands the 1853 Courthouse, the oldest edifice in the country. The main showroom displayed classic vehicles, including a covered wagon that crossed the Oregon Trail in 1850, the US Mail Stagecoach from the 1860s, delivery wagons, a Model T –Ford and even a nineteenth century hearse. Hard to imagine people really got places without gasoline. Domestic life was illustrated by an early log cabin kitchen and a Victorian living room. Artifacts, including the finely crafted Chinese furniture from the Osborn Hotel occupied a corner adjacent to an exhibit on the life of the fantastic Opal Whitely, who grew up in Oregon logging camps, wrote world-renown stories of fairies and died as a Bourbon princess. Climbing the elaborately carved wooden stairway rescued from the old Federal courthouse, we saw exhibits of personalities who graced Eugene’s past, including Buster Keaton, Joaquin Miller and John Belushi of “Animal House” fame.
We concluded with a lively exchange, sharing personal highlights and observations, feeling that we had discovered some fascinating stories about our roots, and looking forward to the next high adventure!
Dr. Ronald Palmer
Professor of History