Theta XI: History-makers Road Trip to Brownsville

On Saturday, October 19, NCU’s History Club headed north to Brownsville to visit the Pioneer Museum and the historic Moyer House.  Some might think that a small town like Brownsville would be a boring place.  I mean, what could a town of 1,500 possibly have that would interest history buffs, and anyone else who loves the past?  Well, it turns out this small town is a treasure trove of stories – in the lives of its residents and the surviving buildings  The stories are very personal and an integral part of that towns life and identity.

As with many towns in Oregon, logging and timber were the early machines of growth.  Brownsville has its fair share of noteworthy things, personalities and artifacts that defined and shaped its history.  The museum there is unlike anything else that I’ve seen.

The outside looks like an old-time train station with a few railroad cars on each side.  It’s rustic and bit ragged around the edges, the peeling paint and drab color shows its age, but also gives that patina of use and honor.  It’s exterior belies the riches within — an entire museum encompasses not just the building but includes the rail cars as well.

The interior of the cars serve as small passages which take you to displays of shops, businesses and other dioramas of depicting life in early Brownsville.  Actually, it’s the story of early American life but with that Oregon small-town-feel.  Beautifully preserved artifacts are displayed, from weapons to clothes and children’s items, a full spectrum of historical items, each with its own local tale to add to the mosaic.

The people there are charming, helpful and knowledgeable. They are willing to answer any questions or point out a particular display or area they think might be of interest.

From the museum we took a tour of the Moyer House just down the street, a wonderful example of pre-20th century Victorian mansions. Italianate Victorian, to be specific.

I was trying to imagine living in a house with no closets and no bathrooms.  It wasn’t easy.

We recommend a visit to this and other small town museums and historical societies.  We forget where we came from and how we got to where we are today; we forget the people who built they things we presently enjoy.  To reconnect to our past means never letting go of our roots and always remembering those who gave their lives for a better society.

I leave with this passage from scripture, a reminder of God’s words to not forget the past.

“For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?” Job 8:8-10

By Barry Sommer