WL Historical Society preps for new walking tour
The idea came to Roger Shepherd during a "ghost tour" through a cemetery in Lincoln City last Halloween.
The tour featured actors playing various characters from the city's past, each telling their stories in front of gravestones. For Shepherd, a devoted member of the West Linn Historical Society, it seemed like a perfect event to bring to his home city.
The problem, of course, was that West Linn did not have a cemetery.
"So we came up with the idea of a 'walk of fame' where we're walking around to different stages in a park and getting introduced to different characters in West Linn's past," Shepherd said. "It was a great way to learn about the local history of the area, and we've got some very interesting characters and very interesting history in West Linn, so there's a lot of good stories to be told. It just seemed like a natural thing."
With that in mind, Shepherd stepped into the role of writing and producing "Voices from the Past," a new event set for May 6 at Mary S. Young Park. Attendees will be introduced to 14 characters — all of whom played a distinct role in the early years of West Linn — including Robert Moore, Hugh Burns, Mary S. Young and Virgil and Dorothy Maddax, among others.
"There's 10 different stations people will go to, and each talk is about five minutes," Shepherd said. "A lot of it was just information we already knew, but we also did some additional research on some of the characters. We picked some of the characters to tell not only about themselves but about their industry or a different aspect of West Linn.
"Edward Eastham started the electric company that became PGE at Willamette Falls, and he will talk about the industry itself as well. A mill worker will talk about himself but will also talk about the history of paper mills in West Linn."
Tours through the stations will depart every ten minutes, starting at 6 p.m. with the last tour departing at 8:30 p.m.
Shepherd said that the historical society hopes to make this an annual event.
"If it goes well this year, we're thinking of expanding to maybe two different nights and have different characters on different nights, and introduce more people from (the city's) history."
Even if residents know some of the major characters like town founder Robert Moore or the Maddax family, Shepherd said there is still plenty to learn at Voices from the Past.
"There's some very interesting histories and stories," he said. "Just like the fact that we have a character playing the first mayor of West Linn, John B. Lewthwaite. He served in Civil War for four years and was discharged after injuries he received at Gettysburg. So that's an interesting fact that a lot of people don't know about."
Tickets are $10 and must be purchased in advance at westlinnhistory.org.