Imagine you've been walking for months to get to your new home in Oregon. You've traversed hot, dusty plains, crossed rushing rivers and made your way over steep mountains, all while sleeping on the hard ground each night. Finally you see the first glimpse of the comforts of home you left behind so long ago: Philip Foster Farm.
That farm still stands to this day, a piece of loving history on the Barlow Road. That history remains alive thanks to the efforts of many people like Elaine Butler.
Elaine first started coming to the farm as a mom. She home schooled her kids and would bring them to Philip Foster Farm to take part in the many activities they offer. They asked her to become more involved and the more she took on, the more they wanted her to do. "I gradually just got more and more involved in how the operation works and with all the people who are involved in it," said Elaine.
While she does so much at the farm, her favorite part is igniting the passion for our heritage in future generations.
"My favorite part of working here is the kids. I get to work with these kids who start participating very young. They'll come back every year in camps and volunteering. We have one girl who started when she was eight and she's 18 now and part of the staff and what we do here. Watching those kids grow up and love the farm and love the history is very exciting to me."
There are a wide array of things for kids who are interested in history to try. There is an active garden that grows many of the same staple crops that the Foster family would have back in the 1800s. Kids can also try various chores and recreation activities that kids in the 1800s would do.
The part that still appeals most to me is the blacksmith shop. Kids who are interested can take lessons on how to shape iron and steel into the useful items of the day from an expert smith. There's something mesmerizing about watching the master and his apprentices taking a raw piece of iron and turning it into something both useful and beautiful.
Coming up the September 15 is the annual Cider Squeeze. One of the well-known fixtures of Philip Foster Farm were the many apple trees. There are still several trees on the farm producing bushels of apples. You can purchase some from the farm or bring your own and run them through one of eight presses they have on site. The end result is a fun day with the family learning some history and making some delicious apple cider.
Philip Foster Farm is located just off of Highway 211 in the town of Eagle Creek, which is a few miles north of Estacada. It's one of several historic sites in Mt. Hood Territory. We are the end of the Oregon Trail, after all, and this year marks the 175th Anniversary of that famed migration.