Category Archives: Museum News

Mother’s Day is 2016 Season Opening

Following a long-standing tradition, the Union County Museum opens for the 2016 season on Mother’s Day, May 8, from noon to 4 p.m. A visit to the museum is a nice way to enjoy the holiday while exploring life in Union County over the last 150 years. Admission is free and refreshments will be offered. We thank Starbucks of La Grande for donating coffee for the event.

Music will be provided by Grande Rondolin, a local stringed instrument group that will perform using the museum’s two very rare instruments, the mandocello and the mandobase. Come enjoy the music, visit with friends and get to know the museum.

A new addition to the museum this year is a World War One exhibit, with highlights about people with ties to Union County who served in the war. Volunteers have been working on the project over winter, researching and collecting items for the exhibit. The collection replaces a replica of a turn-of-the-century school classroom. Other exhibits include the General Store; Agriculture, Timber & Transportation; Cowboys Then & Now; and the Livery Station.

While admission to the museum on Mother’s Day is free, the museum board of directors asks you to join the Union County Museum Society to support the collection, preservation and presentation of our area’s history. Membership starts at just $10 a year for individuals and allows entry for free throughout the year. You can be a supporting member for just $50 a year.

“We receive comments from visitors from around the world, praising the quality of exhibits and the depth of the collection,” said Sharon Hohstadt, Museum Society President. “We invite people to come see why the museum is worthy of your support.” Days and hours of operation after Mother’s Day are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contact Hohstadt to learn about becoming a museum volunteer, or 541-963-8624.


Getting Ready for the 2016 Season

Spring cleaning has started at the Union County Museum, as volunteers prepare for our 2016 opening on Mother’s Day, May 8. It’s time to remove covers, dust, and prepare new exhibits and update old. If you would like to get involved, please contact Sharon, our museum board chair, We appreciate the help.

Mark your calendar to visit the museum on Mother’s Day and help kick off the season. Every season there is something new to share.

Museum Society Announces 2015 Annual Meeting

Historic photos from the museum collection show residents of Camp Carson.

Eastern Oregon University Professor Linda Reed-Jerofke will speak at the Union County Museum Society’s annual meeting Friday, October 16, at 7 p.m. The event takes place in the Little White Church, beside City Hall and across Main Street from the museum in Union. Admission for the event is free and everyone is invited.

ProfessorReed-Jerofke will talk about the historic Camp Carson mining camp. Reed-Jerofke and Eastern Oregon University Professor Rory Becker have recently conducted archeology projects in the area of the camp with their students, in hopes of learning more about the site and the people who mined there.

The camp is located near Tanner Gulch, about 21 miles south of La Grande. Gold rush speculators and Chinese miners mined the area. War Department Maps of 1877 also mention the camp, suggesting it might have been a military establishment.

Dating back to the 1860s, Camp Carson was a mining camp on the upper reaches of the Grande Ronde River. Early gold seekers may have named it after the Carson City area of Nevada. 

The annual meeting also includes a brief recap of the season, election of the board of directors and approval of the 2016 budget.

Refreshments will follow the presentation and discussion. Membership is encouraged and is required to vote.

After a rewarding season, the museum closes October 9 and opens again Mother’s Day, 2016.

Museum to Host Pioneer Day August 29

Merle Miller is shown preparing Dutch-oven main dishes, breads and desserts during a past Pioneer Day.

Union, Oregon__The Union County Museum is hosting Pioneer Day, Saturday, August 29. Come watch a variety of pioneer skills demonstrations, including candle making, sheep shearing (yes – with live sheep!), wool spinning and weaving, tool making, Dutch-oven cooking, and blacksmithing. Mark Wing of Union will give rides in a horse-drawn wagon and talk about the history of Union’s commercial buildings. 

The event takes place in the museum courtyard, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as part of the Union County Museum Society’s community outreach program. The interior museum exhibits will also be open for touring. 

“Our goal is to entice more people to get to know, enjoy and appreciate the museum,” said Sharon Hohstadt, President of the Union County Museum Society. “We have been pleased with the response to such events in recent years and are happy to meet and acquire new patrons.”

We are delighted to have three exceptional music groups perform in the afternoon. The Tailgate Trio will perform from noon to 1 p.m.; The Huitts will play from 1 to 2 p.m.; and the Twisted Willows (Cindy Frick, Leslie McMillan, Anna Leslie, Matt Cooper and Sharon Porter), perform from 2 to 4.

Admission for the event is by donation. Refreshments will be offered for sale by the Union County Museum Society Board. 

Gary Kohler discusses his black-powder gun and gear collection.

The Union County Museum is dedicated to presenting and preserving the history of Union County and the surrounding area. The museum is continually adding and upgrading exhibits, including the General Store exhibit, new this season. Newcomers always remark on the depth and quality of our exhibits.

Owned and operated by the Union County Museum Society, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, the museum is an all-volunteer effort by a small but very dedicated group of individuals. Ask how you can get involved!


Summer 2015 Events Announced

Any day is a good day to explore the Union County Museum, but please mark you calendar for a fun event coming to the Union County Museum this summer.

Learn about blacksmithing, Dutch oven cooking, toolmaking, carpentry and more.

Pioneer Day, Saturday, August 29, is a great day to introduce the museum to your children, friends and relatives. Watch demonstrations of pioneer skills and get to know the museum volunteers and members. Details will follow as plans are confirmed.

Mother’s Day Event Marks Season Opening

The Union County Museum opens for the 2015 season Sunday, May 10, from noon to 4 p.m.. As is traditional, the event falls on Mother’s Day, providing a nice way to enjoy the holiday while exploring life in Union County over the last 150 years. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.

Music will be performed by Grande Rondelin, a stringed instrument group that plays the museum’s two very rare instruments, the mandocello and the mandobase. The group will also perform with the museum’s instruments at a concert at Eastern Oregon University, date to be announced.

New in the museum this year is a mercantile exhibit, taking museum visitors back in time to the 1890s through 1920s. Museum curator Blanche Kohler, Union carpenter David Schmidt and volunteers have been working on the exhibit over the last two months, using old photos of Union County stores to design the exhibit space. They will be gathering items from the museum collection to fill the 20 x 18’ walk-in replica of a typical small-town general store.

“We are excited to unveil this wonderful addition to museum exhibits,” said Kohler. “From the classic false-front storefront to the layout and methods of displaying products, the museum’s General Store will take patrons back to a completely different shopping experience than what they are used to today.” The exhibit is in the South Building, directly behind the Cowboys Then & Now Collection, which has been housed at the Union Count Museum since 1998.

Another highlight of the Mother’s Day event is a book signing by Richard Roth, former Union County resident and author of “The Hot Lake Story,” and its two supplements. Roth will have on hand his just-released second edition of “The Central Railroad of Oregon – Oregon’s Blue Mountain Route.” The hard-cover book is a painstakingly researched story about, “the fascinating historical development and decline of Union as a railroad town in Northeast Oregon,” as described in a brochure.

The book covers the history of one of the shortest railroads in the northwest, from the initial railroad proposal in 1889 through the final order of abandonment of the line 106 years later. The 237-page publication incudes over 200 photographs of locomotives, rolling stock, familiar faces and local railroad scenes; maps, diagrams, passes and correspondence. The narrative describes the entrepreneurial spirit that came out of the industrial revolution and fostered the expansion of transportation across the country. That same spirit eventually lead to development of the automobile, freight trucks and improved roads, which eventually brought about the decline of most short-line railroads, including Union’s.

Growing up at Hot Lake in the mid-twentieth century, Roth was interested in local railroad history and the Central Railroad of Oregon, which, rolling right through the heart of Union, linked the communities of Cove and Union and connected them with the Union Pacific Main Line near Hot Lake. Fans of the area’s history will find this book an important addition to their collection.

While admission to the museum on Mother’s Day is free, the museum board asks you to join the Union County Museum Society to support the collection, preservation and presentation of our area’s history. Individual membership is just $10 a year; you can be a supporting member for just $50 a year. Visitors from around the world give the museum very high praise for the quality of exhibits and the depth of the collection. Please come to the museum and see why it is worthy of your support.


Museum Hosts Summer Concert

The Sheehys played familiar old hymns, prompting many in the audience to quietly sign along.

The Union County Museum invited lovers of traditional music to enjoy a warm summer evening of music in the courtyard, Friday, July 18. About 70 people listened to traditional fiddle tunes and old-fashioned hymns by local musicians.

Melody Huitt and her daughters, mixed oldtime fiddling with Irish tunes.  The Sheehys also played stringed instruments and sang. Refreshments were provided by the museum board of directors. The board thanks everyone who attended and hopes to hold similar events in the future.

Annual Yard Sale

The annual Union County Museum yard sale fund raiser takes place this weekend, May 30 & 31, 2014. Take this opportunity to visit the museum, seek out a new treasure or usable item for your home, and help out the museum keeps its doors open. While you are visiting, if you are not already a member, please join the Union County Museum Society. Membership allows you to visit the museum for free, opens the door to receive museum news and communication about activities, and lets you support the mission of the museum. We work to collect, preserve and present the history of Union County. We welcome your assistance.

First Board Meeting of the Year Scheduled

Happy New Year! The Union County Museum Society Board of Directors will hold its first meeting of the year Tuesday, January 14, at 4 p.m. in the Island City City Hall meeting room. President Sharon Hohstadt will lead the discussion on museum business, 2014 activities and events and an update the roof repair project. Additional items on the agenda include the treasurer’s and curator’s reports and planning for a membership drive.

Museum Society members and those interested in becoming a member or volunteer are invited to the meeting. Please contact Sharon Hohstadt, in advance if you have any item you would like to see added to the agenda.

Community Steps Up to Help Museum

Wow! The citizens of Union County have shown they appreciate the Union County Museum in a big way. Our request to you for assistance to repair the roof of the museum where it was damaged in the hail and rain storms in August has been very successful. First, the Union County Commission came through with a grant from the Union County Discretionary Fund (a County grant program funded with local transient lodging taxes) to help pay for the new roof. Then, our letters to museum society members and other county residents brought enough donations to repair the interior ceiling and start rebuilding our emergency facility fund.

We thank everyone who helped with this effort. Please visit the museum when we open for the season next Mother’s Day, and return with friends throughout the 2014 season. If you haven’t visited for a while, you will be amazed by the quality of the exhibits and the depth of the collection. If you aren’t yet a member, please consider joining so we can keep you informed of museum news and activities. We are planning some fun events and hope to see you next season!