Friday, September 7, 2012

The End of the Oregon Trail

Since we are learning about the Oregon Trail, I thought it would be fun to check out The End of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City, which isn't too far from where we needed to be in Wilsonville later in the day. Historically, this is an important spot. Pioneers traveling along the Oregon Trail ended their journey here - well kind of. This is the official end of the Oregon Trail. Back in the Oregon Trail days the whole area would be full of covered wagons. From here travelers spread out finding their perfect home throughout the Willamette Valley. For some reason I thought it's title had Interpretive Center in it, so I was expecting a museum type thing. It wasn't. It was a Visitor Center/Gift Shop. It's not that it was terrible, it just wasn't what I expected. I expected more. I even asked the guy at the front desk type thing if this was the same place I saw online. I really thought we might be in the wrong place.

I guess this sign does just say it is a historic site.

Look at the top sign! It says Interpretive Center, then Visitor Information - as if there is both.

The concrete steps have names of important places along the Oregon Trail.

There were also quotes referring to traveling to Oregon. This one says, "We are here at last in Oregon City, that long looked for place!" by E.B. Hanna in 1852. There was another one that said, "Don't live and die in sight of your father's house, but take a trip to Oregon!" by T.D. Wood in 1844.

Walking up the steps to what I was expecting to be a building chuck full of Oregon Trail info...

... And guess what, I think it is. But, us commoners can't go in. It's reserved for school groups. I took this pic peeking through the window. Off to the left of this building is the Visitor Center/Gift Shop that we did get to explore.

The Visitor Center/Gift Shop had quite a few old time games. The kids really enjoyed playing them.

This was a game called Three Men's Morris, an early version of tic tac toe.

I don't know the name of this game, but Capt. N was determined to win. And, he did.

There was this pleasant looking stuffed beaver to look at.

The craziest thing I saw in the store was this Amish Country popcorn. Crazy because most of the pioneers weren't Amish, so why are they selling Amish popcorn. Crazy also because I bought this same bag of popcorn just a few weeks ago in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania - in Amish Country. Apparently, I'm a sucker and I've been had. I didn't need to fly clear across the country for this popcorn, I could have just driven my car across town. I'm not thinking there's anything special about the popcorn. I better not find the Amish jellies I bought & had to throw away at airport security anywhere in the Pacific NW.

This was the first time I had heard about button dolls. They're practical. The arms & legs are made of buttons, so when you lost a button along the trail you took a button from a little girl's button doll.

Along one wall was information on what the pioneers wore & played with. But, even that didn't excite me much. Most of the stuff was not anything I've ever seen typical pioneers wear. They seemed more like what Nellie Oleson would have worn - which is not the pioneer types that I generally read about. This sign says boys typically wear dresses until they are potty trained. I don't dispute that, but I really don't think the boys traveling along the Oregon Trail wore dresses such as the one in this picture.

Cute kids shoes in a display case.

There was also information on pregnant women. There was a paper stating that 2 out of every 3 women traveling along the Oregon Trail were in some stage of pregnancy. It went on to say that most women delivered their babies either inside their covered wagon or under it with the help of other women traveling with them. Also, so many women died in childbirth that most often they made arrangements beforehand about who would care for the baby. Then, many times if the mother had died, soon the baby would too. Bottles were uncommon and they didn't have formula.

Maternity Corset. Yikes! Women really wore these. As if being 9 months pregnant isn't uncomfortable enough. The title for this part of the exhibit is And Baby Makes Three: Motherhood & Maternity on the Oregon Trail. I'm curious, did the women traveling along the Oregon Trail really wear these? This exhibit says so. I'm going to have to look more into this. I find it fascinating.

Ya can't go wrong with dress up. They had a corner full of pioneer clothes for the kids to try on. Although, there weren't any kid size clothes for the boys. I think it makes it all the more cute with the gigantic clothes on.

They had a special place just for Flat Stanley.

I think all these red box car looking buildings had pioneer garb in them.

Painted on the wall of a building was a huge Oregon Trail map.

Master Gardener's Heritage Garden. We actually spent quite awhile exploring this small garden.

The last things we checked out were buildings made of cedar planks.

The kids had fun & I think even learned a smidge, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. But, I am glad we had plans nearby & didn't drive all the way there just to see a Visitor Center/Gift Shop. Next time I'll know what to expect, so it's not such a disappointment.

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