Event will mark 175th anniversary of trail with stories from local travelers

SUBMITTED PHOTO - After a successful first run last year at Mary S. Young Park, Voices from the Past will move to the McLean House this year and focus on stories from the Oregon Trail. It's a special year for Oregon Trail enthusiasts, and the West Linn Historical Society wasn't going to miss its chance to join the fun.

As the Trail celebrates its 175th anniversary, the Historical Society is set to feature several local figures who traveled the Oregon Trail in its second annual Voices from the Past event May 5. Written and organized by Historical Society President Roger Shepherd, the event features an array of actors who tell the life stories of the figures they portray over the course of a one-hour guided walk through the grounds at the McLean House.

"Some of the characters came across the Oregon Trail and have stories to tell both while they were on the Trail and once they got to Oregon and to the West Linn area, or Linn City as it was called then," Shepherd said. "So it's some of their stories of their hardships, dealings with Native Americans, those types of experiences."

Five of the 10 characters this year have Oregon Trail connections, according to Shepherd, including Jane Painter, Jane Apperson Moore and James Moore — the latter two being related to West Linn founder Robert Moore.

"Apperson Moore came across the trail and lost her husband on the trail," Shepherd said. "She had nine children with her ... she got to Oregon and eventually married Robert Moore. (James Moore) came across and joined his father in his dealings at the (Willamette) Falls."

Other historical figures highlighted this year include Robert Bird, Daniel Dean Thompkins and Ellis Hughes. The Historical Society's goal is for attendees to come away with a clear picture of each character's life story.

"(It's) their entire life and sometimes even past their life with what's happening with their property or legacy," Shepherd said. "It's not just a snippet in time like it could be; it's kind of a telling of their life."

The event moved to the McLean House this year after being housed at Mary S. Young Park in its inaugural year.

"But it's still 10 stations, and you stop by each and listen to about a five-minute presentation from each character," Shepherd said.

Tours will run every 10 minutes from 6-8:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online at As of April 13, Shepherd said plenty of tickets were available.

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