Mount Angel sets out to celebrate 125 years of history
Mount Angel will be celebrating its 125th birthday next week, and if any Oregon town knows how to throw a birthday party, it's Mount Angel.
The celebration will be April 3 at the Mount Angel Festhalle, on the actual anniversary of the date the city was founded.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with kids activities, including face painting and crafts. A program starts at 6 p.m., when light snacks and cake, donated in part by Mount Angel Sausage Company, will also be available. The program will feature presentations from representatives of Mount Angel Abbey, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Mount Angel Historical Society and Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley.
"We invited several organizations from the community who have been instrumental either in forming or shaping of what we have today in Mount Angel," City Manager Amber Mathiesen explained. "The abbey and its roots are instrumental, the church is an arm of that religious heritage that we have. Habitat's local chapter was founded in Mount Angel and they're doing a Habitat build here in Mount Angel. The historical society, they have been helping us with the heritage trail with information on various photos."
She added that she hopes some of the historical markers for the heritage trail, a walking path around the city funded through grant money, will be ready to be unveiled at the Tuesday event. If not, there will still be a slideshow of historical photos on display, she said.
The event will close with a city council meeting held at 7 p.m.
Anniversary pins will be available for $5 each. These pins are already available at Mount Angel Public Library and Mount Angel City Hall, and will also likely be available for purchase at Oktoberfest in the fall.
In addition, the city will be creating a time capsule to be opened for the 150th anniversary. Citizens are invited to participate and bring a small item, like a letter, business card or photo describing daily life in 2018 for historians of 2043.
Mathiesen mentioned that Mount Angel actually had a time capsule in the past that was unearthed about 12 years ago. It unfortunately hadn't been sealed correctly, so all the items inside were ruined, she said.
"Depending on the size and number of materials, we'll see whether this time capsule will be buried or, perhaps less romantic, put in a safe deposit box," she said.
The settling of Mount Angel, which was incorporated on April 3, 1893, was predated by the building of Mount Angel Abbey and Queen of Angels Monastery.
"Both were here before the town was incorporated in 1893 but had a huge influence on the growth and success of the town," pointed out Bill Predeek, president of the historical society, whose great-grandfather settled in Mount Angel in the 1890s.
In fact, it was in 1881, the year railroad construction in the area was completed, when a Benedictine priest named Adelhelm Odermatt traveled from Engelberg, Switzerland, to the area, ultimately deciding to build a monastic community with the anglicized name of Engelberg — Mount Angel. The Benedictine sisters moved to Mount Angel in 1886, and Queen of Angels Monastery was blessed in 1889.
Other notable dates in Mount Angel history include the construction and dedication of the present St. Mary's church in 1912. That year is also when the Mount Angel Cooperative Creamery started up. That and the Farmers Union Warehouse were major employers in the town for many years, Predeek noted.
Another major employer for a short time was a flax plant, built in the 1930s and the impetus for Flax Festivals that took place in town until the early 1950s.
"Even thought the plant closed shortly after World War II, it and the festivals had a major impact on the economy of the town," Predeek said.
Of course, Mount Angel residents didn't have to wait too long for another festival, as Oktoberfest started up in 1966 and is still going strong.
"Not unlike many small cities, we have a deep heritage," Mathiesen said. "But I think our heritage is still very connected and apparent in the city today. Traditions are still held closely by our residents and community at large. As we go forward, I think it's important for folks to still honor those traditions and where the city's come from as it goes into the future."