Posts Tagged ‘Highway 99’


May 11, 2012

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.   


An Almost Ordinary Sunday Drive

March 7, 2012

On a pretty spring day, unusual this year, we left our home in north Eugene, near River Road for a drive to a concert in Corvallis.  With grandchildren there, it’s a frequent excursion at all times of day and in all weather.

Still we choose to drive Highway 99 every time.  It has more interesting scenery all the way and doesn’t take any longer than the freeway.  On this Sunday we did make a slight detour to drive the original Highway 99, River Road, into Junction City.  

  Recent interviews and stories of living along that stretch of road stimulated a desire to drive it again.  We go that way often enough there isn’t much new to see between visits, maybe a few changes, mainly seasonal, along the way.  The planted fields all look green right now but the ground for truck crops is still too wet for the equipment to be out and in use. 

  None of the produce stands are open yet but the hazelnut and walnut trees have been recently pruned and the cuttings not yet picked up.  The big red barn at Thistledown looks so bright, it might have a fresh coat of paint since I saw it last.  There is a new Century Farm sign in that section still fairly close to Eugene.  The old sign showing the mileage to the Lithia Hotel in Ashland looks freshly painted too.  The sign itself looks to be in better shape than the shed it’s painted on.  There is another shed a little farther along with a very faded PRUNES sign.  A reminder of the time when Oregon grown prunes satisfied our country as well as Europe and families picking them brought much needed cash into the area.

The old deserted schoolhouse has been remodeled and is now on the market.  It would be an interesting place to live, or maybe use for a community center or a church.  Very attractive. 

Another building I’m particularly interested in, KATIE”S MARKET is in this area.  Formerly Riverview Market, I’ve been privileged to share the story of one family who ran the store and lived in the apartment in back.  Although it’s for sale right now and maybe empty, I’m seeing it populated with young children visiting their grandparents, being put to sleep by the Lawerence Welk show, and even a one eyed family dog.   

  Not far past that is a family farm where I’ve purchased green beans and peaches but also shared the stories of  boys and girls who came to pick beans to pay for school clothes.  Of families who came with groups to picnic along the banks of the river, even enjoyed a swim. A farm with a history ob belonging to a community.

  Somehow it’s not an ordinary road, it’s a road crowded with stories and populated with people young and old.  No freeway gives you that. 


The Drive In Movie EVENT

July 27, 2011

Passing through Newport last week, I remembered reading that there is still an open Drive-In Movie there.  I didn’t go looking for it but the thought certainly brought back memories for me.  There was a time when there was a Drive-In Movie on Highway 99 near every town.  Larger towns might have one at each end and towns that weren’t on the highway still had a Drive in Movie nearby.  They were part of an era, a time when more of us had automobiles than ever, when we considered them a second home and could hardly leave them behind.  Drive in Restaurants, ice cream or root beer stands,  and Drive In Movie theaters for entertainment flourished for two decades, sometimes longer.   A few of the Drive In fast food eateries still do well.  

When I was in college we occasionally went as a couple,  on the weekend if there wasn’t a game, dance or something we wanted to see at the regular theater.  Not often, my guy was a working musician most weekends. 

It was later, when we had children that the Starlite Drive In Movie on Highway 99 turned into a BIG EVENT.  It was one place where we could take a baby and know any fussing wouldn’t disturb others.  Each car had  its own speaker with volume controls. 

As our family grew, the Drive -In- Theater turned into more.  It was a way to have a family evening with entertainment.  Central Point was usually  hot  during the summer so we could load snacks and sometimes sandwiches, drinks, probably Kool Aid and fruit into bags to take with use, drive to the theater as the sun was going down and picnic there.  Between the snack stand and the front row of cars, there was a grassy area which almost always had young children playing tag, or statue.  As our babies grew, one or two of the children were ours  so we supervised from the car or standing on the side.  Often they had school friends there to play with but they enjoyed the park-like area even when there weren’t children they knew.  Or maybe it was the being up past bed time they enjoyed.   The preparations for going always included pillows, lightweight bedding, and comfortable clothes that could be slept in.

There were evenings when that play time was more important to the children than the movie.  I think we always went on evenings whan stories like Old Yeller, or another animal show, maybe a Disney feature, was playing first and  left before the later movie, more likely to be adult.   Almost always one or two of the youngest fell asleep before the end of the first movie.


Traveling With A Rainbow

June 3, 2011

A cool, wet spring has sent me traveling on scenic and historic roads in less than normal weather.  An evening drive from Eugene to Corvallis on Highway 99 W caught us in a fast-moving hail storm as we drove north but didn’t cancel the trip.

After the granddaughter’s concert, our trip home was framed by a complete and bright rainbow crossing above us at a west- east angle for the whole trip.  Very special.

Earlier in that same day, I set out in search of an old air strip located on Highway 99 south of Creswell.  I’ve heard I’ll be getting a story about a romance that began there so I was intrigued.  I found the air strip, complete with windsock and hangars but a downpour kept me from taking the pictures I wanted.  I’ll be going back, there are other interesting sites along that road.