Museum of the Oregon Territory presents full day of fun honoring Willamette Falls history

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The photographs of Ray Tatyrek, documenting the post industrial ruins of Blue Heron Paper Mill, will be on display during the festival.

The Museum of the Oregon Territory (MOOT) will present “Willamette Falls: Where the Future Began” from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The event is a full day of new exhibits, papermaking, crafts, workshops, music, arts and culture in Oregon City. Held indoors, the event is a collaboration between the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Portland General Electric, Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory, West Linn Paper Company, the Clackamas County Historical Society and others who recognize the need to balance the ecology, cultural relevance, and economic potential of the falls in the most cooperative, sustainable ways.

In MOOT’s new PGE Theater Exhibit, visitors can view Portland General Electric’s film “Willamette Falls; Where the Future Began,” an up-close experience of the “Niagara of the West,” and a timeless study of the falls’ ecological, cultural and industrial relevance. 

According to a release from event organizers, before the potential of the falls was harnessed for industrial means, it was a vibrant social and economic gathering point for tens of thousands of years by the Clackamas and other tribes of Salmon Nations. At 1 p.m. new tribal art will be unveiled and dedicated with a Blessing Song and Cultural Address from representatives of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. 

Artist and photographer Ray Tatyrek has documented the beauty of the post-industrial ruins of Oregon City’s Blue Heron Paper Mill site in architectural photos, which he enhances to resemble fine watercolors. Tatyrek’s art will be displayed and available for purchase. In conjunction with the new Industries Exhibit, historian and author Sandy Carter will read excerpts from her book “$1.09 an Hour and Glad to Have It,” which chronicles the oral histories of Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill workers, starting at 11:30 a.m.

At noon, an acoustic folk-music concert of songs on the theme of contemporary Native American issues will be presented.  

At 2 p.m, Penny Machinski, West Linn Paper Company’s environmental manager, will present an inside look into the history and sustainability of WLPC, the oldest operating enterprise of its kind below Willamette Falls. At 3 p.m., attendees can attend a free papermaking workshop, lead by Pulp and Deckle Paper Company.

Opening during the festival and continuing through midyear in the museum’s Murdock Gallery is “Dished-Tastes of Clackamas County,” an exhibit which showcases how historical events have shaped what we decide to cook. From cast iron cookware to ration stamps and Wonder Bread’s scientific laboratories, Baker’s research invites contemplation of the relationship between food and history.

Children’s arts and crafts will be ongoing.

For a complete schedule of events visit or call 503-655-5574. The Museum of the Oregon Territory is located at 211 Tumwater Drive in Oregon City.

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