Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Benton County Circa 1920

The newest Benton County Historical Museum's exhibition, Circa 1920-- Roaring into the Modern Age, is now open in the downstairs gallery.  You'll learn about events from the period 1914 to 1925 which affected local residents.  You'll also see changes in fashion, music, art, and household operation.

What was Benton County like at the start of this period?  According to the 1910 U. S. Census, Benton County had 10,663 residents, most of whom (93%) were native-born whites. Men (5729) outnumbered women (4934).  Here's a photographic tour of the county in the early 1900s.

Corvallis was the largest city, with 4,552 residents, or 43% of the county's population. The photo looks north along 2nd Street. 
Corvallis, Oregon
Philomath, with 505 residents, was the second largest incorporated city. In 1914, as now, Marys Peak dominated the skyline to the west. 
Philomath and Marys Peak, Benton County, Oregon
Although Monroe did not incorporate until 1914, it had a number of houses and the Monroe Roller Mill whose water tower appears in the back of this 1912 photograph looking towards the Long Tom River.
Monroe, Oregon
A number of other small groupings of homes scattered across the county.  Some were in King's Valley.
Kings Valley, Oregon
In spite of being home to 2 colleges, Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) and Philomath College, Benton County was largely agricultural.  This 1915 photo shows the McClelland Farm just west of Philomath. 
Come to the museum to see some additional photographs of Benton County's cities. I will also feature other period photographs in future posts. 

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

1919 Benton County Snow

Thursday morning I awoke to find a light coating of snow on the roofs and yards.  We typically don't get much snow here: the average annual snowfall is 3 inches.  But one of the years covered by the Circa 1920 exhibition was quite different.  On December 19, 1919, a record 11 inches fell. Additional snow fell on the following days, for a total of 20 inches for the month!  December in 1919 was also unusually cold, so the snow didn't melt but stayed on the ground.

Here are some photos to show what that much snow looked like. The first shows downtown Corvallis looking north along 2nd Street from Jefferson.  Note the man shoveling snow off the roof of the Benton County Bank in the center of the photo.
1919 snowfall in downtown Corvallis, Oregon

The second photograph shows a Corvallis home in the snow. Look at those icicles!

The snow was also deep in Philomath as this photo of the museum's building (then Philomath College) shows. 

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

1919 snowfall at Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, February 15, 2018

TED: wood carvings by Ted Porter

The newest exhibition in the upstairs gallery features the work of Ted Chapman and Ted Porter. Porter, a self-taught wood carver from Portland, donated his collection of more than 50 pieces to the Horner Museum in 1986.  As a child, he was intrigued by a carved wooden chain containing a cage with a ball inside that he saw at school.  As an adult working in a logging camp, he decided to try to carve a similar chain out of a spare piece of wood. It took some time before he was able to figure out how to accomplish this feat. One of the pieces he donated shows the beginning of a chain. 

The finished product might look something like this long chain of cedar containing a ball in a cage.  Like all of his chains, it is carved of a single piece of wood.

In addition to carving chains and other whimsies, Porter also produced some more traditional sculptural pieces.  Titled “Weightlifter,” this sculpture of alder depicts a Chinese strongman preparing to lift.
"Weightlifter" by Ted Porter

You can see more of Ted Porter's carvings in Benton County Museum's upstairs gallery until March 3, 2018.

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