During my research and efforts to collect the Stories of Highway 99, I discovered the treasure trove of information stored in the small local museums. Each is different from the others, some are crowded in small buildings also used for other purposes and some located in a donated house but there are others. The very special Cottage Grove museum is located in an octagonal building, a former Catholic Church. They have added an annex to increase their displays.
Not only are the kinds of buildings different but so are the themes and character of the museums themselves, with what they display and how the displays are presented.
The Cottage Grove Museum has a display from a survivor of the Titanic, gorgeous dresses from the past and some beautifully restored leather goods. A pair of chaps so remarable they belong in a parade, or a movie. That’s only the beginning: trunks, a cooling board, so much more. It’s understandable, the town itself has a preserved historic district, a museum just for the Bohemia Gold Mine District, and an exceptional genealogy library.
My visit did add more to the stories I’m working on, filling in some of the gaps. It also let me see how the town developed, in more than one phase. The original wagon road was built on the west side of the river but the railroad came through on the east side. Like a few other Oregon towns, the railroad caused a major move of business. In Cottage Grove, it wasn’t peaceful, a feud developed with stories that included kidnapping a post office, jailing a sheriff– and others. For anyone interested in Oregon history, it’s a good place to visit.