Today I want to take you on three “History Hikes” that provide some of the greatest stories ever lived in Oregon.
Great drama is easy to find in the great Oregon outdoors – if – you know where to look. In fact, there’s a compelling three-act drama right off Portland’s front step and each offers intrigue, romance and fascinating characters. Oregon’s greatest stories have larger than life characters, plus colorful and compelling settings and above all, Oregon stories that endure and connect with a passion that’s strong as ever.
Hike #1: Start your history hike at a US National Park in Oregon City where Dr John McLoughlin’s home provides a commanding view. John McLoughlin is often called the ‘Father of the Oregon Country’ and was arguably very influential in the state’s development. The McLoughlin Memorial Association leads tours of the home and the property that will take you back to a time before statehood in 1845.
Hike #2: Our second hike takes you 20 miles to the southwest, where the past will fill your senses at Champoeg State Heritage Site near Wilsonville. Champoeg left a lasting political mark on Oregon history when the first provisional government was formed here in 1843 where pioneer businessman Robert Newell’s home still stands. Newell was one of the voters who formed Oregon’s first government and was one of the wealthiest men in the area. He had accumulated enough wealth to build a home on high ground overlooking the town site that he was developing in the early 1850’s. The home is one of the few original Champoeg structures standing today.
Hike #3: History Hike number three is within easy reach following a short twenty mile drive from Champoeg to Pacific University in the Washington County town of Forest Grove.
That is where Old College Hall rises across the beautiful university grounds and it is where Alvin Smith, Harvey Clark and Tabitha Brown brought education and culture to the wilderness.
The grand building was erected in 1849 and holds historic artifacts, artwork and antique furniture. Local historian, Mary Jo Morelli, (she co-authored a new book that includes the building’s story: “Images of Forest Grove,”) explained that the greatest value of the building may be in how the pioneers and education changed the Oregon Country.