Since relocating back to Oregon three years ago I have met some very interesting and fun people. One friend, Ginnie, and I get together every Tuesday (that we can) and see something new in the Portland area, where we both live. This week we ventured further south to Oregon City. This was an area where I grew up so it holds a lot of memories for me. I moved here when I was in fourth grade and left in the ninth when my family decided to move to Oak Grove.
Oregon City has maintained its historical flavor over the years and this was one of the things I liked about it. Lately they’ve been sprucing up the neighborhood ( as many cities have been doing) and hanging flower baskets adorned many of the lamp posts. You’ll find historical buildings and homes all over the place and there’s a walk-about of Oregon City that’s fun and interesting, if you like that kind of activity check with the visitor center or me. Plus, the Clackamas County Historical Society Museum has its home here.
Visiting Oregon City brought to mind the Oregon Trail and pioneer days – after all, it was the first city to incorporate west of the Mississippi. It was home to fur traders and missionaries and soon became known as “the end of the Oregon trail.” Later the paper mills sprang up as well as houses along the river, populated by employees of the Hudson Bay Company.
Ginnie and I took the elevator (it even had an operator) to the top of Singer Hill. There’s also a road along the cliff (if you want to drive) that was once a Native American path that expanded over the years to its present state. For a little more exercise – turn left at the base of the elevator (be sure and notice the 3-D historic photos lining the walls) and follow a tunnel to an old rock stairway that winds to the top past Singer Creek Falls . A fountain stair-steps down the lower part of the hill to the railroad tracks at the base. Another tunnel takes you under Singer Hill Road and you’ll end up in the yard of two historical homes – the John McLoughlin Home (city founder) and Barclay Home (man prominent in community affairs) both can be toured.
The top of the hill had a completely different atmosphere than the bottom. McLoughlin Promenade, a 1930s parkway along the top of the hill was recently renovated and offered different vantage points along the cliff where we viewed the city below, the Willamette River and Willamette Falls. I frequented this area as a kid and a lot of it still looked the same. Further up the hill a few buildings had been demolished (sadly the old theater) and others had been rennovated and turned into something new. I entered the library and it was exactly as I remembered it. Same with the park and playground. Here are a few sites I remembered from my childhood:
Singer Hill Cafe has been mentioned as a popular spot to grab a bite to eat so Ginnie and I decided to try it. The food was not great the day we ate there but the atmosphere made up for it. There’s an art gallery inside and an outdoor patio with plants growing on the walls and even covering the outside of the garbage can. It’s a “must see” when you’re in the neighborhood. The plant design is the work of the Oregon City Vertical Garden Institute.
Be sure and visit the Willamette River Walkway and John Storm Park plus the Willamette Falls Viewpoint off Highway 99E on the way up toward Canby above the old paper mills. This is only a smidgeon of what historic Oregon City can offer but it’s a good start. Happy exploring…