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 Board Holds Annual Meeting Event

Walt Brookshire, Union Pharmacist and business owner

The Union County Museum Society held its annual meeting Friday, October 10, in the Little White Church, across the street from the museum in Union. The guest speaker was Walter Brookshire, pharmacist and owner of Union Drug Store. He gave an interesting talk about the history of pharmacies and pharmaceuticals and the role 20th century drug stores played in communities. Brookshire enlarged the role Union Drug Store plays in the community of Union a couple of years ago when he built an extension on the building and added an old-fashioned soda fountain and cafe.

Union Drug Store

Union Drug Store has stood on Main Street in Union for over a century.

The annual meeting included a brief recap of the season, re-election of two directors to the board and approval of the 2015 budget.

There was an opportunity for the public to provide ideas, comments and suggestions concerning the museum, its collection and operations. The museum society board of directors included the suggestions in discussion when they met for their annual retreat the following morning and is always interested in what county residents know and like about the museum and what they would like to see in the museum’s future.

“The museum is always looking for ways to increase attendance, upgrade our operations and build our membership,” said Sharon Hohstadt, board president. “We have had a great year. Now is the time to ask, ‘What are we doing well, and what could we do differently to attract more participation from county citizens?’”

Hohstadt said the board would also like to see more young people getting involved with preserving and presenting the history of Union County.

“We’d like to know what interests the younger generations when it comes to area history,” said Hohstadt. “Do they know and enjoy the stories of our past? How can we engage them in museum activities? The future of our and all museums depends upon answering these questions.”

The museum is closed for winter, opening again Mother’s Day, 2015.

The museum board asks you to consider joining 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 Patron 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.

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.

A Little Night Music at the Union County Museum

The Union County Museum in Union is hosting a gathering of musicians and music lovers for an evening of live music in the courtyard, Friday, July 18,beginning at 7 p.m. Old-time music, including spirituals, folk and Irish, will be featured. The event is part of the Union County Museum Society’s community outreach program, with the goal of enticing more people to enjoy and appreciate the museum.

Groups will perform for about thirty minutes each. First on the schedule is Melody Huett Fiddlers, which plays Irish fiddle music. The second group is the Sheehy Brothers. They are very popular with some of the older folks around Union, playing oldtime music.

Additional musicians will play following the groups and an open mike and jam session will continue until 9 p.m.

The museum will open at 6 p.m., giving people an opportunity to view the exhibits before the music begins. concert will be held in the museum courtyard, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission will be free this evening. Please join us for a fun summer evening at the museum.


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!

Fall 2013 Museum Society Newsletter

Read the latest Museum Society newsletter, Fall 2013 Newsletter. We hope you will join us in preserving and presenting the history of Union County, Oregon.

Historian Mike Hanley Will Speak At Annual Event

Mike Hanley is known for his detailed sketches of the old West. The Union County Museum is pleased to announce Mike Hanley, a historian, artist, author, and cowboy will speak at the museum’s annual fall membership meeting and rally, Friday, October 11, 7 p.m., at the Little White Church, across Main Street from the museum in Union. Hanley, a cattle rancher from Jordan Valley, has published numerous books about Oregon’s colorful ranching history, from the days of great cattle drives, cattle barons and range wars through the shipping of cattle by rail. He is known for his extensive knowledge of the Old West, his wonderfully detailed pin and ink drawings and his authentic Western outlook.

Mike Hanley was part of the team that created the Cowboys, Then & Now Exhibit, originally developed for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Beef Council and installed in their shared office in Portland in the early 1990s. The exhibit was created to inform the urban audience about the history of cattle ranching and the ranching lifestyle. Upon opening with much fanfare, the exhibit was awarded the best new attraction in Portland and was visited by over a thousand viewers a month. The Union County Museum later acquired the exhibit through a RFP process, when the Cattlemen’s Association and Beef Council moved and no longer had room for the collection. The Museum sent volunteers to Portland to pack and haul the collection to Union, where it opened in 1998. It has been a major component of the museum collection ever since.

Hanley will talk about highlights of the exhibit, the history of cattle ranching and cattle in Oregon, and today’s ranching lifestyle. His books will be available for purchase, along with the Oregon Book of Ranching, a leather-bound 2013 book commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

Admission for the event is free and all are invited. The museum will serve refreshments. October 1 – Due to damage from a recent hail and rain storm, the museum has closed for the season a couple of weeks early. However, since this event takes place in a separate building, it is not impacted by the closing and will go on as scheduled.

The museum board asks you to consider joining the Union County Museum Society to support the collection, preservation and presentation of our area’s history. Individual membership is just $10 a year; be a Patron 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. Come to the museum for a fun evening and see why it is worthy of your support.


Summer 2013 Museum Newsletter Available

Read the latest museum news. We hope you will join us in preserving and presenting the history of Union County, Oregon.