View historic photos at the WL Library as part of Willamette Centennial Celebration
by: ESTHER BETTS GROSS Collection, Teens and young adults made extra money picking hops in the Willamette area in the early 1900s.

Prepare to go back in time.

The Centennial Families of Willamette exhibit - a display of historic photographs from the Willamette district of West Linn - will be on display from July 6 through the end of the month. The 30 photographs collected from families in West Linn's historic Willamette area will be on display at the West Linn Public Library - 1595 Burns St. The event is sponsored by the Willamette Centennial Committee, the city of West Linn and the Bernert family.

The exhibit is one of the many activities taking place this summer to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Willamette neighborhood.

In 1908, in what is now the Willamette area of West Linn - just off the I-205 10th Street exit, and near Willamette Falls Drive - became its own town called Willamette. It was later incorporated into West Linn in 1913.

Planning and overseeing celebratory activities is the Willamette Centennial Committee.

'The drive behind (the library exhibit) was to share photos and share history. A lot of these photos are from private collections that the public has never seen,' said Danny Schreiber, a Willamette resident in charge of coordinating living history tours for the committee.

For months, Susan Hartford, Willamette resident and historian for the committee, collected old photographs and talked with families about their local heritage.

'Everyone I talked to - without exception - remembers with fondness their childhood in Willamette,' she said.

The photos chosen for the exhibit depict Willamette and West Linn from more than a century ago through the 1940s. The displays were matted and framed and include photo information gathered by the committee, Schreiber said.

'The photos help show life in Willamette,' he added.

Hartford agreed, saying, 'This exhibit is dedicated to the centennial families of Willamette - those who came here over one hundred years and ago and who have family members living here today.'

Hartford said that because many families have resided in this area for decades there is a 'richness of life and interconnectedness' that might not be available in a more transitiory community.

'I hope this project will continue to uncover and reveal the rich history here to aid the young and old in discovering more about the rich sense of place of Willamette,' Hartford said.

Hartford - a geologist - said that the past is the key to the present in more than just understanding rock formations.

She said she has fond memories of kayaking on the Willamette River and watching her sons jump off the cliff on the Petes Mountain side of the river.

'My 95 year old neighbor, Harold Gross, jumped off the cliff about 80 years ago himself,' she said. 'It's kind of a tradition around here.'

Hartford said she hopes the city or library can maintain a historic archive of the images exhibited - and that locals enjoy the festivities. With an ice cream social, street dance and old-time baseball game coming up, people in West Linn will have plenty to look forward to.

'The meaning and memory of various families, events or places in Willamette still resonates today and that shared memory,' Hartford said, 'makes Willamette a cool place to live for old and new families alike.'

For more information about other Willamette Centennial events and the committee organizing them, visit the Web site at www.willamettecenten The library exhibit is free and open to the public.

Centennial events

Historic Photo Display at West Linn Public Library

July 5 to July 30

Willamette Street Dance on Willamette Falls Drive

What: A dance between 12th and 14th streets.

When: 4 p.m. ice cream social

4:30 p.m. music by John English

5:30 centennial ceremony

6:30 p.m. welcome back John English

8 p.m. sock hop and rock to the Boomer band

Willamette Old Time Baseball Game at Willamette Park

When: July 13.

What: 2 p.m. The Willamettes Historic Team Vs. Ft. Vancouver Pioneer Baseball Club.

Old Time Commerce Classic Golf Tournament

When: July 17.

What: TBA.

100 Years of Music: Willamette Park

When: Aug. 20.

What: TBA.

World Meteorite Day

When: Aug. 23.

What: A three-day festival in honor of the city's world-renowned Willamette Meteorite, the sixth largest in the world featuring environmental science, education, alternative energy sources, sustainable farming.

Lock Fest: Willamette Falls Locks

When: September 12.

What: TBA.

Village of Willamette Art Festival

When: September 2008.

What: TBA.

Living History Tour

When: September 2008.

What: A $15 tour of the Willamette neighborhood by costumed interpreters portraying locals.

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