Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - 2008 . . .
on our route to the Pacific Northwest

Updated: 11/30/08



The O T I C was very well done. The realism of the exhibits was outstanding.


The center was built on a Flagstaff Hill overlooking the prairie and mountains the people westward bound had to cross. 


   a f0825otic_102 bldg_1_1.JPG (35143 bytes)


a f0825otic_143 entrance_1_1.JPG (43785 bytes)      a f0825otic_149 otic wagon_1_1.JPG (41408 bytes)



An outside exhibit of how the people heading west camped - circled the wagons . . .

      a f0825otic_108 wgn cir1_1_1.JPG (38510 bytes)   a f0825otic_123 wgn cir2_1_1.JPG (46030 bytes)   a f0825otic_127 wgn cir5_1_1.JPG (40202 bytes)   a f0825otic_130 wgn cir4_1_1.JPG (45089 bytes)




a f0825otic_129 wgn cir6_1_1.JPG (56830 bytes)On the hill top the exhibit experienced sever winds. Therefore, the wagons were chained to the ground.




Questions about wagon trains. . . .

Are these the original wagons used by the pioneers? No, these are replicas of the types of wagons used from the 1840ís through 1870ís. The smaller, boat shaped wagon is an original which dates to the early eastern Oregon settlement period in the 1880ís

Why are the front wheels smaller than the back wheels? Large wheels roll more easily over rough roads, potholes, and rocks. Smaller wheels have a tighter turning radius. The combination of large and small wheels made a more maneuverable vehicle.

Did the wagons come up to the top of Flagstaff Hill? No, the trail passed by the base of present day Flagstaff Hill. Because of the difficulties and strain on animals of climbing and descending steep grades, wagon travelers avoided hills as much as possible.

Did they circle the wagons when they camped? Large wagon trains formed corrals by circling their wagons, where animals could be herded if needed. Small wagon trains generally did not form circles.

What season of the year did they pass by here?  The Oregon pioneers annually passed this area from mid-August to late September.

Did they use Dutch ovens for cooking things beside stew? Dutch ovens were useful for frying, baking, boiling, and stewing a variety of foods including pies, cakes, bread, beans, soups, and meats.

Did the land look the same to the pioneers as it does today when the wagons passed Flagstaff Hill? Terrain and vegetation is essentially the same today as in the mid 19th century. The developed farmlands and urban areas of Baker Valley were described as high grassland at the time the pioneers passed through. A notable landmark, the Lone Pine was still visable in the Baker Valley until cut down in 1843. Pioneer accounts note land alongside the trail was heavily grazed and in paces littered with broken wagon parts, dead animals and castaway possessions.


For some reason, Mary Lou likes to make photographs of Fred making photographs.


a ml IMG_0392 f wagon1_1_1.JPG (42000 bytes)   a ml IMG_0393 f wagon2_1_1.JPG (34783 bytes)   a ml IMG_0394 f wagon3_1_1.JPG (47173 bytes)
a f0825otic_128 wgn cir3_1_1.JPG (25496 bytes)



a f0825otic_131 blu mtn_1_1.JPG (34678 bytes)You could tie your horse to the hitchin' rail and eat lunch on the 20 foot long picnic table. Maybe a program in the amphitheater would be fun.

   a f0825otic_134 picnic tbl_1_1.JPG (53831 bytes)   a f0825otic_135 amp thr_1_1.JPG (55838 bytes)



Another exhibit of a wagon was on the prairie below. A 2.5 mile loop trail included this site.





As the settlers came over a hill, this is their first view with the Blue Mountains off in the distance.





You entered the inside exhibit areas by walking along with a wagon train on a simulated part of the the Oregon Trail. Motion activated audio tapes presented narratives about life on the trail. At the end of the this exhibit, large ceiling-to-floor windows provided a panoramic view of the trail across the valley.







A sign read:

    Children: The Little Adults
    Get up at 4 a.m. Help fetch water, cook, clean up, and pack. 
    Then walk for 10 to 20 miles, pick flowers, take a swim,
    and have a mock battle with buffalo chips.
     Schoolbooks and baths are scarce.
     Go to sleep. Do it all over again 180 times. 

    Thousands of children spent their days like this on the Oregon Trail.





a f0825otic_262 td9_1_1.JPG (48579 bytes)   a f0825otic_264 td10_1_2.JPG (48820 bytes)   a f0825otic_267 td11_1_2.JPG (48132 bytes)   a f0825otic_271 td13_1_1.JPG (44524 bytes)

A grease bucket . . .                     A fly on the cow . . .                The original settlers . . .            Livestock traveled also . . .



a f0825otic_206 aud1_1_1.JPG (32104 bytes)a f0825otic_211 aud2_1_1.JPG (40208 bytes)We arrived just before a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation was to begin. The topic was Women on the Oregon Trail. The presenter pointed out that many of the women making this trip were middle class and not used to doing all the labor of running a family. She explained that women cooking over the open fire spend a lot of time bending over the fire or squatting beside it. There were many women injured when their clothing or hats catch on fire. 



   a f0825otic_212 aud3_1.JPG (41212 bytes)   a f0825otic_214 aud4_1_1.JPG (38727 bytes)   a f0825otic_241 aud5_1.JPG (35619 bytes)




There was a special exhibit on the clothing of the times. Starting with the middle class clothing in the East at the time of the migration.


a f0825otic_250 cl2_1_1.JPG (35608 bytes)  a f0825otic_256 clo3_1_1.JPG (38340 bytes)

a f0825otic_245 clo1_1_1.JPG (31857 bytes)  




a f0825otic_260 clo5_1.JPG (65606 bytes)Moving into the clothing worn on the trail . . .     Our presenter had said the women choose calico prints so they looked the same when turned inside out. Many women choose black, not for mourning purposes but because it didn't show the dirt as quickly. Water was in very short supply and laundry was rarely done.

           a f0825otic_252 clo3_1_1.JPG (44601 bytes)




a f0825otic_340 display7_1_1.JPG (45656 bytes)There were books and guides available to help the families get ready for their journey west. Some contained useful information - some gave bad information. Items found to be too heavy and unnecessary were discarded along the trail.






The exhibits covered all aspect of the settlers travels on the Oregon Trail. 


a f0825otic_273 display1_1.JPG (47472 bytes)      a f0825otic_292 display2_1_1.JPG (40651 bytes)   



a f0825otic_313 display3_1.JPG (35369 bytes)   a f0825otic_319 display_1_1.JPG (39422 bytes)




In this exhibit, the interiors of each wagon was illuminated during various subjects on audio tape.


   a f0825otic_372 2d2_1_1.JPG (37812 bytes)      a f0825otic_377 2d4_1_1.JPG (27083 bytes)      a f0825otic_379 2d5_1_1.JPG (39480 bytes)




Several exhibits included a video screen surrounded by a set.


a f0825otic_358 movie2_1_1.JPG (39102 bytes)   a f0825otic_385 movie4_1_1.JPG (35239 bytes)   a f0825otic_288 movie1_1_1.JPG (31644 bytes)




A very attractive bench . . .

a f0825otic_209 bench_1_1.JPG (41789 bytes)




The Center has a 4.2 mile trail system that leads visitors to a series of viewpoints and historic sites.  For those with limit time or physically challenged, the short Ruts Access Trail (180 feet) is entered from the traffic pullout on Highway 86. It offers a quick and easy way to view the ruts. 


aa f0825otic_425 ruts sign_1.jpg (71405 bytes)  


a f0825otic_437 ot marker_1_1.JPG (39032 bytes)   a f0825otic_444 ot wsng_1_1.JPG (38820 bytes)   




This Oregon Trail Memorial was constructed to commemorate the centennial anniversary.


a f0825otic_452 sotone mem1_1_1.JPG (44254 bytes)   a f0825otic_453 ot mem2_1_1.JPG (69115 bytes)


a f0825otic_454 stone mem3_1_1.JPG (69917 bytes)                                                                                       a f0825otic_456 stone mem4_1_1.JPG (60625 bytes)



We were there for 3 hours, about 45 minutes of that was at the special presentation. 

Admission is $5, over 61 is $3.50, special passes are honored.  The facility is open year around. 

If you are planning to hike the trail, allow an additional two hours. Remember, it can be very hot in this area, you'll need to dress appropriately and carry your own water. No water is available on the trail.



GO BACK TO  > > > Pacific Northwest - 2008


Top of Page

















































Hit Counter