“As a kid, my favorite boating destination was Champoeg Park,” begins My Music Man Chapter 13. Today, Champoeg remains one of Oregon’s natural spots most sentimental to me and my brothers. It was the place to be the day after Dad died, and again today on this warm May afternoon for the 175th Founders Day celebrating the 52 men voting in favor of forming the first provisional government west of the Mississippi River in 1843.
“Back on the famous day of the signing, over a hundred years before my birth, settlers came to Champoeg from all directions and by all means: boats cruising along the river, horses wading across streams and riding over plains. Old and young – mountain ranger, missionary, seaman, blacksmith, merchant, doctor, farmer. Pioneers who had, for all kinds of reasons, given up the life they had led somewhere else to imagine a new future…..” (My Music Man, Chapter 13).
Thanks to today’s speakers, supporters of this State Heritage Area representing Champoeg Park, Oregon Parks and Rec, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers. All who reminded us of the heritage of this spot -and the stories and peoples of this area and long ago time.
Dan Klug shares history of the 1843 vote.
During the rifle volley salute by Forest Hills Brigade Mountain Men reenactors, I nearly jumped out of my skin as I stood following the reading of my great-great-great grandfather William Willson’s name: shooting off one name early, adding more excitement to the day. A day perfect for a walk along the river, to smell the bursting cottonwoods, and imagine those times long ago.