Located about halfway between Eugene and Salem, the charming town of Brownsville (pop. 1,686) offers a surprising respite from the bustle of the I-5 corridor. The town was founded by settlers from the Oregon Trail in 1846 in an area first inhabited by the Kalapuya Indians. With farmland on one side, forests on the other and the Calapooia River flowing through it, Brownsville makes a great day trip in the Willamette Valley.
Film Fame: Thirty years ago this summer, Brownsville was abuzz with movie stars like Kiefer Sutherland and River Phoenix for the making of “Stand By Me,” a Hollywood hit based on a story by Stephen King, which was released in 1986. The community celebrates Stand By Me Day each July with a blueberry pancake breakfast, tours of filming sites and interviews with the original cast and crew. This year is the movie’s 30th anniversary and the town has special events planned for July 23, 2016, such as 5K fun run/walk, geocache challenge and a classic car cruise-in. But anytime of year you can take a self-guided tour of movie locations with a free map from the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce website.
Get Outside: Brownsville is located at the end of the 134-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Ride north toward Albany for a beautiful 30-mile ride along the river and past Thompson’s Mill State Heritage Site or south to Armitage County Park, a 24-mile ride that includes the route’s toughest climb. Canoers and kayakers will enjoy the nearby access to the Willamette River National Water Trail, and thrill seekers can book a ride with Scenic Jet Boat Tours. Anglers will find ample opportunity for river and creek fishing. For details on where and when to go, check out the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Recreation Report on the fishing page.
Lesson Learned: History buffs can visit the Linn County Historical Museum and Historic Moyer House Museum for a look at the area’s pioneer past and Native American history. To explore on your town, download the historic walking tour map from the chamber of commerce website. Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site north of town offers the chance to see the 150-year-old water-powered grain mill. The oldest in the state, it was in commercial use until 2002.
Food and Drink: Randy’s Main Street Coffee offers a hearty breakfast and lunch menu with biscuits and gravy, baked eggs, build-your-own sandwiches and homemade baked goods. Brownsville Saloon Bar & Grill and Kirk’s Ferry Trading Post both serve a host of burgers, sandwiches and tasty fried sides. Visit Armando’s for a flavorful traditional Mexican menu.