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a paved path with grass to the left and bushes on the righthand slope overlook downtown Oregon City below
Annie Austin | 10/06/2021 | Heritage

The Homes That Shaped Oregon City, The Official End Of The Oregon Trail

Know Now COVID-19

Please Note: Some of the historic homes described below are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check each location's website and social channels before you go to have the best possible visit.

The Oregon Territory is Made Official at the Homes House, a.k.a. Rose Farm

We suggest beginning your historic Oregon City homes tour with the Holmes House. Built in 1848, it’s associated with the transition of government in Oregon to Territorial status, because the inauguration celebration for the first Territorial governor, General Joseph Lane, was held here in 1849. Distinguished guests, included Dr. John McLoughlin, “Father of Oregon.” The home is open seasonally for Saturday tours.

Why is John McLoughlin Called the “Father of Oregon”?

John McLoughlin was assigned by his employer, Hudson’s Bay Company, to establish and lead a Pacific Northwest headquarters, which became known as Fort Vancouver. Though McLoughlin had been ordered to discourage and turn away Oregon Trail settlers, he instead offered them credit at the fort's shops. That eventually cost him his job, leading to his building a home in Oregon City which he and his family moved into in 1846. In 1957, 100 years after his death, McLoughlin was officially named the "Father of Oregon" because of the aid he provided to American settlers. The home opened as a museum in 1910 and is still typically open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays.

Next Door to the McLoughlin House

The Barclay House is where Dr. Forbes Barclay resided after also working for the Hudson’s Bay Company as a physician. He was Oregon’s first coroner and an Oregon City mayor, among other roles. The house is also open to visitors and is typically open Fridays and Saturdays. Its gift shop is like no other, specializing in Oregon Trail diaries and prints of original photos. Don’t forget to also get your National Park Passport stamp here!

Another Hudson’s Bay Company Employee Home, The Ermatinger House

Francis Ermatinger came to the Oregon Territory in 1825 to work for John McLoughlin. Hudson’s Bay Company, which now has a net value of over $7 billion and owns stores such as Saks 5th Avenue, built the house for Mr. Ermatinger, as he oversaw the company’s new store in the area. Self-guided tours of the house are available on Fridays and Saturdays, and you can even adopt an artifact.

Oregon’s Story Continued: The Stevens-Crawford Heritage House

While the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive & Visitor Information Center is the must-visit museum for Oregon Trail history, the Museum of the Oregon Territory is a required stop for all Oregon history. It tells the story before and after Oregon Trail pioneers made it here, and we have the Clackamas County Historical Society to thank for this place. Established in 1952, its collection increased considerably when founding member Mertle Stevens left her family’s home and over 1,000 objects to the society in 1968. Afterwards, the Stevens House Museum opened its doors as a heritage museum. Built in 1908, a visit will transport you back to the Progressive Era and its inventions and innovations.

House Exhibits Expand to a Modern Museum

As the collection continued to grow, members realized that they needed a modern museum to properly showcase the area’s history. The Museum of the Oregon Territory (MOOT) was built in the 1990s and is still open to visitors today. From the creation of the majestic Willamette Falls to the Indigenous peoples who have called this land home for thousands of years to industrial marvels that brought power to Portland, discover the beginning of all things Oregon at MOOT.

Experience All That Oregon City Has to Offer

With so much to experience at the official end of the Oregon Trail, you'll want to take some breaks for eating meals filled with ingredients sourced from local Willamette Valley farms, hunt for local treasures in downtown shops or set a different pace for a bit with other fun things to do in Oregon City

Hear More Stories with the Mt. Hood Territory Heritage Trail

Explore over 25 heritage sites in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory in the comfort of your own home with this mobile site! Learn how Portland got its name or how the Supreme Court decided the fate of an elevator. Experience life on the Oregon Trail and learn about the history behind the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon Trail pioneers that shaped it into the territory it is today.

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