oregon-city-elevator-sunset photo by Mark Toal PhotographyOregon City, in Clackamas County, holds a special significance for Oregon. Not only was it the terminus of the famed Oregon Trail, it was the first capital of Oregon and the Oregon Territory, which extended south into California, North to Alaska and east into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Legendary events, including the coin toss to name Portland, took place in historic homes that still line the bluff above downtown, and the municipal elevator that connects the bluff to the downtown, was a feat of innovation and is only one of four municipal elevators in the world. (It is the only one in North America.). More recently, several historic home restorations and a multi-year Main Street revitalization of the lower downtown, have helped Oregon City transition from a place of the past to a rich and relevant place of the present and future, a shining example of preservation, restoration, civic engagement and a heritage town come to life. 

The Cultural Trust Board will hold its fall meeting on Thursday, September 26 in this historical city.

A morning meet & greet will take place 8:30-9:30am at the Museum of the Oregon Territory, 211 Tumwater Dr., where coalition members, cultural nonprofits, donors and supporters can network and meet the board in the museum overlooking Willamette Falls. Guests can peruse the museum and learn the history of Clackamas County – including information on historic Oregon Trail routes over Mt. Hood.

The next stop for the Cultural Trust Board and special advisors, is a tour of the Blue Heron Paper Factory and historic Willamette Falls, via the Oregon City Municipal Elevator and a stroll down Historic Main Street. 

Built in 1915 amidst political and technical controversy, the 89-foot city elevator was originally operated by hydraulics and tended to lower residents’ water pressure whenever it ran. The setup also required a walk across a 35-foot catwalk at the top and, when it broke down passengers squeezed out of the compartment and climbed down a narrow ladder. By 1924 electricity was added, reducing the ride from 3-5minutes to 30 seconds. Dependability increased and the elevator became a viable form of transportation between levels of the city. It underwent another remodel in the 1950s to become what it is today and it is currently the only city-run “vertical street” in N. America. Visitors walking to the next activity will be treated to a Lee Kelly sculpture viewing along the way to the tour of Willamette Falls and Blue Heron. 

Willamette Falls is the oldest facility of its kind in the United States, separating the upper and lower Willamette Rivers. The locks first opened in 1873. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, there is now a place to view the locks and the paper mill.

 The Cultural Trust Board meeting, at City Hall Council Chambers, 625 Center Street, will begin at 11am, and is open to the public. A presentation on the elevator will take place around 1pm.   

The Historic Main Street Oregon City project has recruited more than 49 new businesses to the downtown area. The organization has attracted and collaborated on more than $3.9 Million in State, Federal and foundation grants, guided the reintroduction of a retail-friendly Main Street, supported more than $1 million in annual private-sector investment, and built partnerships with local, regional and state partners. Oregon City recently received Oregon Heritage Commission designation as a “Heritage All-Star Community,” and has been noticed for the economic impact of the rejuvenation. Oregon City has proven itself passionate not only about its place in history, but also about its relevance to current Oregon culture.

Please join us in this vibrant city on September 26, 2013