Thursday, July 5, 2018

Historic Columbia River Highway


The Historic Columbia River Highway, constructed between 1913 and 1922, sought not only to make it easier to transport goods and people through the Columbia River Gorge but also to enable more people to see the scenic beauty of the area. And they did come to marvel at both the road and many waterfalls along the way.  Recently, I had the opportunity to do likewise. We traveled east on I-84 and at the Bridal Veil Falls exit drove along part of the original highway.  I noticed the stone guard rails like those in this photograph taken about the time the highway opened.

Historic Columbia River Highway
The stone retaining walls and guard rails were built by expert masons from Italy.  They often had to work dangling over the edge of the cliff. The arches and rounded tops helped keep water from standing on the road and helped preserve the stonework. 

Although the historic highway east of Bridal Veil was closed as a result of last summer's Eagle Creek fire, we were able to visit Multnomah Falls, which is close to the highway.  It looks much like it did in 1915.

June 2018
 I had traveled along more of the historical highway many years ago but one portion I never got to see was the Mitchell Point Tunnel. The Mitchell headland protruded into the path of the road and the highway engineers decided that tunneling through it was the best option. Explosives were used to break the rock but the work had to be carefully done to protect operations of the railroad below. The rock was then removed by hand, and carried away in horse-drawn cart.  Viaducts were built to access the tunnel with the holes for the concrete supporting piers dug by hand! What I would really like to have seen were the five windows created in the outer wall. 
Unfortunately, I first visited to Oregon in 1972 and the tunnel had already been closed during construction of I-84 and then demolished in 1966.

To build these enduring highway structures with the limited equipment (mostly hand tools) then available is awe-inspiring.  It’s no wonder the highway was designated as a National Historical Civil Engineering Landmark.  

An illustrated Columbia River Highway map is part of the Circa 1920 exhibition at Benton County Museum in Philomath.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon


Friday, June 29, 2018

Corvallis July 4th Parade



The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 marked the formal end to World War I.  Veteran Don Beery, who was discharged on July 3 at Fort Washington and arrived back in Oregon the next day, “A grand and glorious Fourth of July.”

Corvallis residents marked this occasion with, according to the Daily Gazette Times, “the most elaborate Fourth of July celebration in history. “  The day began with an immense parade through downtown Corvallis led by Elizabeth Knotts who won the contest to represent the “Goddess of Liberty”.  She was followed by groups of returned soldiers and sailors.  

The parade also featured many floats and decorated cars. The Downtown Girls club featured 3 cars:  one decorated with red roses, one with white daisies and one with blue bachelor buttons. 

July 4, 1919 Corvallis parade
Another winning entry was a series of three cars decorated by the PEO:  Faith, Love, and Purity and Justice. 




A section of the parade was devoted to entries from commercial entries such as that from the Hanson Poultry Farm.
Hanson's Poutry Farm parade float, Corvallis, Oregon
If the over 100 entries had been stretched out, the parade would have been 2 miles long.

The parade was followed by a patriotic program and basket lunch in the city park.  Afternoon events included a band concert and a patriotic address by J. B. Ferguson of Philomath.  Sporting events included a 10-inning baseball game in which the Corvallis cubs defeated a summer school college team 7-6  and races-- sprints, bike races, roller skating races, pony races, an egg race for girls, and a “fat man’s race.” 

The day ended with demonstrations by the Fire Department, a dance, and fireworks. 
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wedding Dress History Circa 1920


It's June—the month traditionally associated with weddings. That is especially true for me this year as my son is getting married on the 23rd.  Because a wedding is a special day in the life of a woman, she often saves her dress.  The Benton County Historical Museum has many wedding dresses in its collection. I found at least nine from the 1914-1925 period. 

Wedding dress styles changed just like women's fashions in general, noted in the last post. Before the start of the 20th century, most brides did not have a special dress.  They wore the best dress they had or purchased one that could be wore for other occasions.  The light-colored suit with braid trim worn by Lizzie on her 1888 marriage to George Humphrey is an example.
George and Lizzie (Perin) Humphrey Wedding Portrait
When England's Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840 she wore a white silk satin dress trimmed in lace.  Most fashionable brides before then wore wedding dresses in the year's most popular color; red was a favorite. Her unusual choice was quickly copied by the wealthy nobility but only became the first choice for brides with the growing middle class- consumer society some years later.

Although these dresses where characterized as white, they were not pure bright white as silk could not be bleached to that level.  Most were what we would call ivory or cream colored.

Bridal dresses in the 1915-1919 period covered the bride- they were long with high necklines.  If sleeves were not full length, the bride wore long gloves. Lightweight fabrics, frequent use of embroidered lace, and high-waisted, empire styles were common. Lillian Goddard's dress for her 1915 wedding was originally ivory silk with soft pleats and short, lace sleeves. As the accompanying photo shows, she wore it with long gloves and an under slip so the lace insert was not revealing.

By the time of Helen Harbke's wedding in 1921, shorter, dropped waist dresses were popular for both weddings and everyday wear. 
Two other wedding photographs show what grooms and attendants wore for weddings in the early 1920s:
 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Women's Fashion Circa 1920


One of my favorite displays in the Circa 1920: Roaring into the Modern Age exhibition at the Benton County Historical Museum is that showing two female mannequins on either side of a period piano. The museum has only a few museum-quality mannequins so our ability to document the changes in fashion are limited.  Also, to preserve garments, they should not be exposed to too much light; consequently the museum prefers to leave them on display for no more than six months. But thanks to the museum's extensive photograph collection, we can see changes in women's fashion during this trans-formative period.



By 1915, the exaggerated S-shaped silhouette of the Gibson girl was out of fashion and the very narrow hobble skirts did not fit into the lives of women who were taking a more active role with the advent of World War I in Europe. Fashion outfits from 1915 to 1920 have a tailored look-- often consisting of an ankle-length A-line skirt and a belted jacket, often with military-style decorations.  The skirts were long and worn with boots. As the picture of nine women posed on a train circa 1916 shows, a large hat completed the outfit. 



By the mid-1920s, the fashionable silhouette was very slim.  Dresses had dropped waists and skirts were worn with loose, blouson tops reaching to the hips or long, loose sweater vests. Hem lines had risen  to id-calf or (by 1925) to the knee. Women wore dark hose and T-strap shoes. Hairdos were shorter and fitting with the cloche style hats then popular. 
 
The four women in this 1925 photograph were also on an outing to a lighthouse but dresses quite differently from the women in the first picture.

The number of women working outside the home increased in this period, especially during the war years.  Their attire reflects the changing styles from those worn by women working in what is probably a post office circa 1915 to what young telephone operators wore in 1923.

#Corvallis, #Oregon, telephone operators Mary Combs,
Abbie James, Mabel Magers, and Elisie Nygren.

Active women changed from wearing long skirts to play tennis (1916) to wearing jodphers and knickers for riding, hiking and other outdoor activities.


By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon