Did they call it a festival? It celebrates Oregon City being the end of the Oregon Trail and the first settlement of the area.
It’s Saturday and almost noon.
We saw ten people there, one of which being an old man dressed in black pants, white shirt,and black vest. His meticulous ensemble was made complete with a black top hat as he sat on a bench. I assume he was driving the shuttle bus for the event, and since the parking lot was empty except for a few cars, he was left with nothing to do, which pretty much sums up the Oregon City Heritage Days.
Matt and I parked about a half mile away in a community lot, assuming it would be packed. I had dreams of being able to enjoy an ice-cold lemon shake-up – something that I associate with the Vermont Settlement Days in Orland, IN. I still don’t know why it was called “Vermont” Settlement Days, but the lemon shake-ups and elephant ears had a way of turning a blind eye to the title. Who cares really as long as there are vendors, performances, peddled mini-tractor pull contests and tug-of-war over a big mud pit being hosed down by the fire department? And the parade made of tractors, candy, and locals riding on the backs of convertibles waving to the crowd for various reasons – beauty, being old, or politics.
Oregon City cut through the fluff and offered the museum center that looked like a well-lit ghost town from the outside looking in – much too quiet to crack jokes, an outside card table surrounded by a group of five visitors with confused expressions, clean bathrooms, a lady in a prairie dress, bonnet, and sunglasses who politely asked us if we wanted to go on the walking tour (which I believe we had just completed by walking down the path marked with information boards with black and white sepia-tinted photos of frowning old men, maps, buildings, and wilderness on our way to the museum building), and of course, said top hat man holding the bench down at the edge of the parking lot.
Of all these, the bathrooms were very clean and perhaps my favorite since I had to go so badly after our half-hour drive to get there while drinking twenty ounce coffees, ten minutes of settling on a specific area to park, followed by a fifteen minute walk to greet the big rustic red painted sign declaring the end of the Oregon Trail and meet our Heritage Days fate.
I could imagine such facilities were important to establish quickly for so many suffering dysentery in the first settlement and am very happy the community has maintained this important facet.
For so many who died cruel deaths on such a monumental journey into the unknown wilderness for better futures, such brave adventurous spirits, it has all arrived to this – a big sign in front of an almost empty parking lot, and a great bathroom facility. God bless the heart of America – good intentions, a dream, and the harsh reality.