Oregon Travel Information Council designates state heritage trees at Murase Plaza

PMG FILE PHOTO - This walnut grove in Murase Plaza will be commemorated as a State Heritage Tree during upcoming event.

The curious case of the ill-fated Oregon walnut boom will receive its due at an upcoming event in Wilsonville.

The Oregon Travel Information Council is holding a ceremony to designate a walnut grove near the Stein-Boozier Barn in Murase Plaza as official Oregon state heritage trees at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12 at that location. The trees will be the third set of state heritage trees in Wilsonville.

As was detailed in a previous Spokesman story, the idea of walnut harvesting as a way to garner prosperity proliferated in Oregon about 100 years ago. However, the gambit failed as California growers were able to get their products to market faster. Wilsonville City Councilor Charlotte Lehan, whose grandfather tried investing in walnuts, led the charge to get the trees dedicated.

The commemoration event was supposed to take place in 2020 but was canceled due to the pandemic. Lehan previously said her research has found that walnut production peaked in Oregon in the 1930s and that walnuts were quickly overtaken by hazelnuts as the primary nut in the state. A nut dryer that resides next to the trees will be available to peruse at the event. Lehan said the grove experienced minimal damage from the recent ice storm.

"Walnuts in Oregon were one of our biggest boom/bust agricultural stories," Lehan wrote via text message. "OTIC (Oregon Travel Information Council) will be dedicating this State Heritage Tree grove to tell that story for the whole state. Come hear from walnut and filbert growers about the failure of walnuts and the success of hazelnuts in Oregon. Plus you can sample some of the products of both."

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