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Interpretive Master Plan


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This Interpretive Master Plan is the product of the input of many groups and individuals. Names in bold are key contributors to this effort.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY ►► Jenna Barganski, Museum Manager ►► Bruce Hanson, CCHS Board President ►► Wade Byers, CCHS Board Vice President ►► John Salisbury, CCHS Board Secretary ►► Craig Danielson, CCHS Board Treasurer ►► Marilyn Morrissey, CCHS Board ►► Penny Charman, CCHS Board ►► Tim Garrison, CCHS Board ►► Mike Norris, CCHS Board ►► Jack Hammond, CCHS Board ►► Darlene Judkins, CCHS Board ►► Cherie Kennemer, CCHS Board ►► Ed Lindquist, CCHS



WILLAMETTE FALLS HERITAGE AREA COALITION Staff: ►► Siobhan Taylor, Executive Director, project manager

Board Members (continued): ►► Andy Cotugno

►► Suzi Anderson, Administrative Assistant

►► Jackie Manz

Board Officers: ►► Jim Mattis, President

►► Claire Met

►► Jon Gustafson, Vice President

►► Martha Schrader

►► Cheryl Snow, Treasurer

►► Mini Sharma-Ogle

►► Jon George, Secretary

►► Peggy Sigler

►► Alice Norris, Past President

►► Nancy Ide

Board Members: ►► Russ Axelrod

►► Danielle Cowan

►► Carol Palmer

►► Mike Watters

►► Yvonne Addington

Board Alternates: ►► Eric Underwood

►► Jody Carson

►► Megan McKibben

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTORS ►► Dave Slusarenko, Historical Planner

THE ALCHEMY OF DESIGN ►► Alan Ransenberg ►► Alice Parman ►► Kelley Mlicki ►► Amy Farrell

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT:


INTRODUCTION The Alchemy of Design is pleased to present this Interpretive Master Plan for the Clackamas County Historical Society and Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition. This plan will inform and guide the design and content of exhibits and public programming.

Process for Interpretive Master Plan Development 1. Start-up Meetings for Interpretive Plan ►► Took place January 29, 2018 2. Outline for Interpretive Master Plan ►► Completed February 23, 2018 3. Preliminary Draft for Interpretive Master Plan ►► Completed April 6, 2018 4. Second Draft for Interpretive Master Plan ►► Completed May 11, 2018 5. Final Interpretive Master Plan



CONTENTS OUR VISION.......................................................................................................... 6 PROJECT GOALS & OBJECTIVES..................................................................... 7 Mission Statements ► Interpretive Goals ► Interpretive Themes

INTERPRETIVE APPROACH............................................................................. 13 Visitorship ► Visitor Experience ► Organizing Principles

A POSSIBLE APPROACH.................................................................................. 16 Scenario ► Design Drawings

EXHIBIT IMPLEMENTATION BUDGET........................................................... 31

Willamette Falls in autumn Photo: Jpldesigns / Adobe

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Introduction


OUR VISION The Clackamas County Historical Society and the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition are coming together at an exciting time, as plans for renovating the existing Museum of the Oregon Territory coincide with plans for interpreting the Willamette Falls Heritage Area. Both organizations are dedicated to sharing stories and connecting with communities. The joint planning effort lays the groundwork for the Museum to become a destination, as well as a gateway to the Heritage Area. This Interpretive Master Plan shows how the Museum’s exhibits and programs will encourage visitors to explore the greater Heritage Area. The plan outlines key themes that will bring visitors to the Museum and region again and again. It envisions a dynamic institution at the heart of the community—a Museum whose stories of people and place are equally engaging to area residents and to visitors from afar.


Station House, 1891 Photo: CCHS



PROJECT GOALS & OBJECTIVES Mission Statements ► Interpretive Goals ► Interpretive Themes

This Interpretive Master Plan serves as a roadmap for the future. As a decision-making tool, it establishes the interpretive purpose and priorities for the Museum and envisions an engaging visitor experience. The foundation of engaging visitor experience is guided by the ideas of Freeman Tilden. Considered the father of interpretive planning, Tilden defined the goal of interpretation: “to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experiences, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.” Tilden also outlined six principles of interpretation: 1. Any interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed or described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile. 2. Information, as such, is not interpretation. Interpretation is revelation based upon information. But they are entirely different things. However, all interpretation includes information. 3. Interpretation is an art, which combines many arts, whether the materials are scientific, historical or architectural. Any art is in some degree teachable. 4. The chief aim of interpretation in not instruction, but provocation. 5. Interpretation should aim to present a whole rather than a part, and must address itself to the whole man rather than any phase. 6. Interpretation addressed to children (say, up to the age of twelve) should not be a dilution of the presentation to adults, but should follow a fundamentally different approach. To be at its best it will require a separate program. Since Tilden first elucidated his principles in the 1950s, many planners, interpreters and educators have debated each one. The principles, generally speaking, remain foundational and relevant today. In short, interpretation should help visitors connect emotionally and intellectually by provoking thought, revealing meanings and relating to their lives.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Project Goals & Objectives


In doing so, interpretation should appeal to visitors of all ages, backgrounds and learning styles. A range of approaches will appeal to a wide variety of visitors of diverse backgrounds. At the heart of the Master Interpretive Plan is a hierarchy of mission, goals and themes. The hierarchy reflects the following structure:

Clackamas County Historical Society Mission Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition Mission

Interpretive Goals

Interpretive Themes

Visitor Take Home Messages

Mission Statements A mission statement is a reflection of an organization’s reason for existence and purpose. It serves as a foundation for all long-range policies. For the purposes of this Interpretive Master Plan, two statements share equal importance, and both will shape and help drive future interpretive development. The Clackamas County Historical Society mission is to enrich the lives of current and future generations through collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and culture of historic Clackamas County. The Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition mission it to lead efforts to enhance, assist and promote the Heritage Area. We are committed to making the Willamette Falls Heritage Area a source of pride and prosperity, where visitors and residents experience the places, stories and abundance of culture and history. This is the story of the bountiful promise at the end of the Oregon Trail.



Interpretive Goals The Clackamas County Historical Society has been operating the Museum of the Oregon Territory since 1990, and currently welcomes visitors with permanent and changing exhibits interpreting the history and cultural of the region. Beginning in 2006, the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition formed with a shared passion for Willamette Falls and the region’s heritage. Clackamas County Historical Society is a key contributor to the efforts of the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition. The following vision statement outlined by the Coalition helps inform our planning effort: The Willamette Falls Heritage Area is a source of pride and prosperity, where visitors and residents experience the places, stories and abundance of culture and history. Currently, the Museum is well situated to become a destination experience and a launching point for exploration for the Heritage Area. The following interpretive goals help shape the development of rewarding visitor experiences. The Museum will: ►► Encourage discovery of the natural and cultural history of Willamette Falls and the Heritage Area, ►► Emphasize fundamental truths that speak to all visitors, and ►► Engage visitors of all ages, backgrounds and learning styles.

Interpretive Themes The interpretive themes establish an overarching theme for the Museum and outline main themes and supporting stories. The central overarching theme establishes a guiding idea for all interpretation. While it may never be explicitly stated in its entirety in exhibit label copy, it states the big idea that will help drive the stories to be explored. Themes are statements or messages about the subject of exhibits. Here, an overarching theme and a number of main themes have been developed: OVERARCHING THEME: Willamette Falls is at a crossroads—of geography, trade, industry and recreation—that has attracted people for thousands of years and will continue to draw people into the future.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Project Goals & Objectives




 assive lava flows and cataclysmic floods M shaped the Willamette River, the Willamette Falls and the Willamette Valley.

►► A major tributary of the Columbia River, the Willamette River flows north between the Coast Range and the Cascade Range. ►► Willamette Falls is the second largest waterfall by volume in the United States. ►► The numerous waterways continuously deposit fertile alluvial soil across the broad, flat Willamette Valley. ►► The soil unique to the Willamette Valley is called Jory—it is the state soil.

For hundreds of generations, Native American tribes have lived along the Willamette River. The prominent villages at and around Willamette Falls served as a destination regionally for trading, and fishing for salmon as well as Pacific lamprey.1

►► The first peoples of the Willamette Falls Heritage Area include the Clackamas, Clowwewalla, Tualatin Kalapuya, and the Pudding River Kalapuya. These Tribes and bands along with others signed the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855, which provided for their removal to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Native people were displaced without payment or compensation. ►► Today, the people of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation are made up of over 27 tribes and bands. ►► These and other Native American tribes continue to exercise their rights to fish at Willamette Falls, as their ancestors have done for hundreds of generations.

 or thousands of years until recently, F the Willamette River served as a main transportation artery that fostered the development of commerce and community.

►► Native people traveled the Willamette and its tributaries in canoes. Most dugout canoes were fashioned from single logs of Western red cedar. Today, Tribal people continue this canoe tradition, which includes annual Canoe Journeys on the Willamette River. ►► Farmers and ranchers shipped wheat, vegetables, timber and other products downriver on barges. ►► In 1873, what became the Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks opened on the west side of the Falls, enabling schooners and steamboats to pass from the upper to the lower river.

Oregon City is where Euro-American settlement and governance by the United States began in Oregon.


►► Oregon City was founded in 1829 and incorporated in 1844—the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains. cover: ►► Americans moving west along the Oregon Trail made it a foregone conclusion that the lower portion of Oregon Country would become American. Settlers were often ahead of official government actions.

Contributed by David Harrelson, Cultural Resources Department Manager, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde footer:




( continued) Oregon City is where Euro-American settlement and governance by the United States began in Oregon.

(continued) ►► A group of Willamette Valley settlers began meeting at Champoeg in 1843 to discuss the formation of a government, which led to the creation of the Provisional Government of Oregon. The whole area was called the Oregon County, until 1843, when Clackamas County was carved out. ►► Historic Clackamas County originally covered portions of four present-day states and one Canadian province. In 1846, the boundary dispute between the United States and Britain was resolved with the signing of the Oregon Treaty. Oregon City became the territorial capital. In 1853, an Act of Congress created Washington Territory, enclosing Clackamas County within the present-day boundaries of Oregon. In 1854, Clackamas County acquired the boundaries we know today. ►► Oregon’s constitution contained an exclusionary clause added in 1857, excluding Blacks from Oregon Country. It was not repealed until 1926.

 he hydropower of Willamette Falls attracted T enterprise and led to the development of industry in the western United States.

►► John McLoughlin opened a sawmill in 1837. By 1846, Willamette Falls became a center for grist milling, sawmilling and blacksmithing. ►► Companies and their establishment dates include: Imperial Flour Mill (1863), Oregon City Woolen Mill (1864), Pioneer Paper Manufacturing (1866) and Willamette Falls Pulp & Paper Co (1889). ►► Beginning in 1888, electricity was generated at the Falls. In 1889, the first long distance DC electric current in North America was transmitted 14 miles from Station A to Portland. In 1890, the first long distance AC current was transmitted from Station A. ►► The paper mills became one of the reasons that the Willamette River was called “an open sewer” by the Oregon State Board of Health in 1907. The documentary “Pollution in Paradise” (1962) by Tom McCall was a turning point for public opinion. The Willamette River was declared safe for swimming in 1974.

 he 56 miles of the Willamette River and T the surrounding landscape—the proposed Willamette Falls National Heritage Area— encompasses the heart of Oregon’s bounty of rich cultural, historical sites, stories, and natural and agricultural resources with opportunities for tourism, recreation and discoveries on and off the water.

►► The Museum is a launching point for exploration of a region rich in all these resources.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Themes & Messaging


Visitor Take Home Messages While the interpretive themes seek to organize ideas and reveal meaning, a successful measure of the effectiveness of interpretation should not rely on the visitor being able to re-state themes. Rather to be broadly relevant, interpretation should provide opportunities for emotional and intellectual connections. Visitor take home messages outline the big ideas that will resonate with visitors to the Museum. These ideas include: ►► Native Americans live and practice their culture right here. ►► This is the end of the Oregon Trail, but it is really the beginning of everything Oregon. ►► All trails lead to Willamette Falls—it is a crossroads where generations of people have lived and worked. ►► This gateway experience makes me realize there is much to explore nearby. Ultimately, visitors will find their own meanings and significance in interpretation—some may be intensely personal, while others may be general connections to stories of people and place.


Oregon City, 2011 Photo: CCHS


Willamette Falls, 2012


Photo: brx0

INTERPRETIVE APPROACH Visitorship ► Visitor Experience ► Organizing Principles

As part of the Interpretive Master Planning process, Clackamas County Historical Society has an opportunity to refresh the Museum of Oregon Territory institutional identity. The expression of identity seeks to answer the question of who we are. It articulates the Museum’s role in the community. It is reflected in the Museum’s architectural presence and its logo, marketing program, and its service to the community through formal and informal learning opportunities. Serving as a gateway and launching point to the Willamette Falls Heritage Area places the Clackamas County Historical Society and the Museum of the Oregon Territory in a primary position to lead and shape visitor perception of the heritage area.

Visitorship The Museum of the Oregon Territory currently welcomes about 300 visitors a month—mostly seniors and students. In addition, the Clackamas County Historical Society hosts an average of three events a week in the form of weddings, quinceañeras, corporate gatherings, fundraisers and meetings; these provide a vital revenue stream. CCHS is also a destination for researchers using the Wilmer Gardner Research Library operated by the Clackamas County Family History Society. A fresh and engaging interpretive program will draw in new audiences of general visitors—both locals and tourists. An associated general outreach program will help position the Museum as both a destination and a gateway to the Heritage Area. In addition, specific target audiences have been identified: millennials (adults born in the 1980s and 1990s), families with younger children, and people of diverse cultural backgrounds. While a new interpretive approach for the Museum should be designed to appeal to all visitors regardless of age and learning style, consideration should be given to targeted public programs, outreach and changeable exhibits that speak to target audiences.

Visitor Experience This portion of the Interpretive Master Plan addresses the visitor experience. An interpretive scenario provides an example of how organization and themes might lend themselves to a wide range of exhibit media, from graphics and artifact cases to themed environments and mechanical- and technology-based interactives.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


Organizing Principles A central portion of the interpretive approach addresses how the Museum will be organized. An organizing principle guides how visitors experience the interpretive themes. Examples of organizing principles include a chronological storyline and a thematic storyline where exhibits explore stories through subjects such as place or industry. In many respects, all the ideas suggested here combine both chronological and thematic organization. Some potential organizing principles include: Journey to the Falls (A semi-geographical approach, emphasizing WFHA travel destinations) From the second-floor foyer, a left turn takes visitors on a journey from the south, Willamette Mission State Park to Willamette Falls and northward. A right turn begins their journey from points north: Philip Foster Farm (via the Clackamas River), Lake Oswego (via the Willamette River), West Linn (via the Tualatin River). All rivers lead to the Falls: the 2nd floor windows overlooking the Falls, and the nearby displays and interactives interpreting the geology, biology, cultural history, industrial technology, and recreational opportunities associated with Willamette Falls. A Willamette River Adventure Experience the Heritage Area and its attractions from the water. For thousands of years, water travel was the quickest way to get anywhere in the Willamette Valley, particularly if you were headed downstream. This exhibit aims to restore that perspective, motivating visitors to get out on the river and watch the world go by. Tour the Willamette and its tributaries in various cultural and historic eras. Preview key landmarks and tour venues as you would see them from a canoe, steamboat, kayak, fishing boat, etc. Meet great blue herons and other wildlife that raise their families along the river. Willamette Valley Time Capsule Relive volcanic events that spread the “Boring lavas� over much of this region at least a million years ago. Marvel at the massively destructive Ice Age floods that brought unique Jory soils to the Willamette Valley. Study archaeological evidence of communal ovens and controlled burns: for thousands of years, Native families harvested bountiful wild foods including camas, tarweed, and acorns. Their trails and river routes took them to Willamette Falls, a great trade and resource center. Moving images and quotes depict the deadly arrival of European diseases, followed by cover: great numbers of European-Americans. Visitors compare the Valley before and after plows, axes, and mills changed everything. People of varied ages and backgrounds are motivated to explore many thousands of years of natural and cultural history within the Willamette Falls Heritage Area.


A Three-dimensional, Interactive Guidebook (Focus on the various contexts of the Falls. Emphasize how things work. Include hands-on STEM activities. Produce interactives, possibly in collaboration with Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.) Visitors can move at random through the space, exploring diverse ways to understand and appreciate the unique features of Willamette Falls. ►► Geology: 16 million years ago, massive lava flows laid down basalt bedrock under this whole region, and created the falls. 15 to 18 thousand years ago, a series of cataclysmic floods eroded the basalt, moving and shaping the Falls we see today. ►► Biology: Journeys of salmon and lamprey to/from the ocean, with the falls as a natural barrier. Native fishing, gathering, and trading; sport fishing, fish ladders. ►► Cultural history: The antiquity of Willamette Falls as a destination for sustenance and trade (canoes, trade routes, archaeology); big changes arrive with Europeans (water-powered mills: industrial production of lumber, wool, flour; fish wheels; steamboats, tugs). Subsistence horticulture (salmon, camas, lampreys, tarweed) replaced by plow-based agriculture and stock-raising. Plank houses replaced by wood frame and brick buildings. ►► Industrial technology: electrical power generation, conversion of mills to electrical power, locks, smelter. Each “chapter” of the “guidebook” is illustrated with vignettes of places to visit within the region, e.g. Fields Bridge Park in West Linn with Ice Age Floods interpretive panels, historic Oregon City, Philip Foster Farm, viewing platform to see mills, etc. All chapters lead to the viewing window, where interpretation highlights geology, biology, cultural history, and industrial technology visible right at the Falls. Discover Willamette Falls Aspects of the WFHA are interpreted in exhibits arranged in a random-access, bazaar-like layout. The viewing window is hidden from this interpretive area; visitors encounter the window and the stunning view as an amazing surprise. Interpretation at the viewing window ties together all that visitors have experienced/will experience in the rest of the exhibit. Finale for all options: Plan Your Trip Interactive Kiosk

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


A POSSIBLE APPROACH Scenario ► Design Drawings

The following scenario and accompanying design drawings begin to imagine how visitors might experience the Museum. These elements do not represent a potential design. Instead, they illustrate possible approaches to interpretation and visitor experience. The scenario is written in such a way as to “walk” the visitor through, telling what is seen, heard and felt as the visitor moves through each exhibit. These elements of the plan often become important during fundraising efforts by helping potential grantors and sponsors to imagine themselves in the Museum. Arrival and Entry Eye-catching signage on Highway 99E alerts motorists and pedestrians to the Museum. Bordering the parking lot, iconic objects evoke Willamette Falls; visitors feel they have arrived at a special place. An overlook offers a first look at the Falls, with a captioned line drawing to orient newcomers. Lobby A friendly greeter welcomes visitors to the Museum of the Oregon Territory. Visitors see a newly designed lobby, and stairs and an elevator take them to the second floor. En route, bold thematic graphics preview the exhibit galleries. A stunning, floor-to-ceiling image of the Falls draws visitors into the Museum’s signature exhibit, Willamette Falls: Through the Eyes Of...


View of the falls Photo: Ferrous Buller


On the banks of the Willamette River

footer: Photo: CCHS

denotes broad exhibit areas preferred visitor flow area for viewing the Falls

Nature's Bounty Harnessing the Power of the Falls See for Yourself!

The West Coast’s First Industrial Center


The Gathering Place


How the Falls Began Entry

Farmers and Land Managers Newcomers

PEOPLE AND THE RIVER The Great Transformation


Changing Exhibits

What’s Your Willamette Valley Story?

0 2 4



PLAN VIEW Plan View 1”=10’

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


large scale interacJve screen

cover: cover:


Welcome Area footer: footer:


These drawings are the property of the designer. Use only by permission.

large format video of kayak traveling on the WillameKe up river and down

Welcome Area NTS

WELCOME AREA Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


Bretz Floods cartoon video

view window to the Falls

viewing area to see the Falls, with seating, telescope, binoculars


overhead glass river with rear projected color and moving imagery



overhead glass river

transit interactive

changing imagery to allow the transit to see several landscapes

modified working transit

SEE FOR YOURSELF Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


overhead glass river with rear projected color and moving imagery

electrical generation interactive

view to the Falls

artifact case




CHANGEABLE EXHIBITS Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


Welcome An artist’s rendering conveys the vast extent of the Willamette Falls Heritage Area, anchored by the Falls and extending for 56 miles up and down the Willamette River. A ribbon of translucent glass traces the river’s course. This motif will continue throughout the exhibit, symbol of the beautiful river that defines the Heritage Area and the Willamette Valley. This bird’s-eye view is an interactive touchscreen, extending from floor to ceiling, and fully twelve feet across. Touching images of selected landmarks produces intriguing facts, connecting the Heritage Area to places that visitors may already know. An intriguing cast of characters also makes its debut. Images of people, historic to contemporary, range from 19th-century sepia-tone photos and line art to 1950s slides and current Instagram posts. Quotes appear as visitors touch the images, expressing each person’s unique point of view. Visitors see Willamette Falls through the eyes of people whose lives entwine with the river, its tributaries, and the Falls itself. Their images and words are clues––glimpses of people visitors will get to know better through interactive and interpretive experiences throughout the exhibit. How the Falls Began In a darkened area that feels a bit chilly, visitors meet the first “character,” J. Harlan Bretz. The geologist is depicted in comic book style, sporting his classic hardhat. Guided by the questions Bretz brought to his field work in the Northwest, visitors study photos of weird, enigmatic landforms, and examine hands-on rock and fossil specimens. A compelling


Hawley Pulp & Paper Mill Photo: CCHS



animation demonstrates Bretz’s theory: periodic creation of an ice dam, its inevitable failure, leading to a catastrophic flood. Repeat...maybe 25(?) times throughout the Ice Age. The floods carried big chunks of glacial ice, full of boulders and other debris. The ice melted, depositing “erratics” (large rocks), including the famous Willamette Meteorite. Visitors can study a fragment of the meteorite at the Museum of the Oregon Territory, and see erratics at Fields Bridge Park in West Linn. News stories and quotes contrast contemporary critics of Bretz’s theory with its widespread acceptance in recent decades. See for Yourself! A spectacular view of the Falls draws visitors to the windows. Interactive panels show how industrial facilities, installed over many years, gradually screened off the Falls from the river’s banks. The base panel illustrates Willamette Falls as it appeared for thousands of years, before John McLoughlin built the first mill in 1837. Transparent overlays add groups of buildings from successive eras, so visitors can follow the rapid evolution of Oregon City as an industrial center. Before leaving the viewpoint, visitors may choose to capture a selfie––the first of many! Nature’s Bounty Moving along the viewing windows, visitors deepen their understanding: for wildlife, Willamette Falls is both a haven and a barrier. Show-stopping images portray the Falls as seen through the eyes of migrating salmon, lamprey eels,

Salmon leaping at the falls, 1950

Pacific lamprey

Photo: NOAA Historic Fisheries Collection

Photo: CCHS

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


View from the fish wheel, 1896

Fish wheel at Black Point

Photo: CCHS

Photo: CCHS

hungry sea lions, and dinosaur-like sturgeons. A video shares eyewitness accounts by Native youths, as they maneuver through rushing waters and along slippery rocks to gather eels, an important traditional food. In another video clip, a fish biologist explains how a system of ladders helps migrating salmon overcome the barrier of the Falls. Graphics contrast the life cycles of lampreys and salmon, connecting the Falls to the Willamette River and its tributaries, the Columbia River below Portland, and the open ocean. Harnessing the Power of the Falls Next, visitors see the Falls through the eyes of Irish-born civil engineer Thomas W. Sullivan. In a rear-projected video, a costumed actor brings Sullivan to life, complete with Irish brogue. Period drafting instruments and blueprints introduce his groundbreaking design for Station B, the first hydraulic generating plant to transmit electricity over long distances. A quote expresses Sullivan’s understanding of the potential of Willamette Falls for power generation; in the United cover: States, only Niagara Falls has more water by volume. Photographs and news stories convey the excitement that electric light brought to Portland, especially during the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905. Visitors are challenged to see how much electricity they can generate by pedaling a stationary bike or rotating an arm bike. A running tally compares their total to the amount produced by Station B.


Steamships on the Willamette River

Hawley Pulp & Paper Company Mill

Photo: CCHS

Photo: CCHS

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMS THE FALLS The West Coast’s First Industrial Center A schematic map of the American West in 1840 shows Oregon City as the first and only industrial center at that time and place. Here visitors view Willamette Falls through the eyes of those whose living depends on the Falls. Men and women of varied ages describe how their work––factory hand in a woolen mill or paper mill, lock-keeper, barmaid or housewife––relates to Willamette Falls. Replicas of workaday clothing are available for visitors to dress up for a family photo-op. Props add to the fun: replicas of products made at Oregon City mills, and workers’ necessities such as a lunch bucket, playing cards, and checkerboard for down time. A multi-layered timeline conveys the sequence of mills, locks, and generating plant on site. Photos of the buildings, images of workers on the job, tools of the trades, and sample products give a sense of the variety and productivity of industries powered by Willamette Falls. Quotes explain mill closures, the potential of reopening of the locks, and the amazing durability of Station B, with its turbines––designed by Westinghouse––still in operation. A fun interactive engages visitors of all ages with a three-dimensional puzzle. Sturdy blocks, sized to scale, represent the mills, locks, and other buildings that surround the falls. All are labeled with names and dates. The challenge is to fit them together to create today’s view of the Falls.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


Oregon’s First City A quote from a surveyor explains that until property lines are drawn, a piece of ground can’t become a city...or even a town. Looking through a surveyor’s transit, visitors see the land as a surveyor sees it. Visitors meet a contemporary surveyor, who introduces two treasures of the museum’s collection: the 1851 plat map of Oregon City, commissioned by John McLoughlin; and the original 1849 plat map of San Francisco, registered in Oregon City, the site of the American West’s first U.S. General Land Office. 19th century surveying tools complement these examples of the surveyor’s art.

PEOPLE AND THE RIVER The Gathering Place An oversize reproduction of a sketch by Joseph Drayton shows Native people fishing for salmon with dip nets at Willamette Falls. In a contrasting photo, contemporary Grand Ronde tribal members gather eels at the Falls. Candid shots of elders, families, and youth convey the celebrations and tradition of fishing, eel gathering, feasting, socializing, and trading at Willamette Falls, the cultural center of the Willamette Valley. Commissioned replicas by Grand Ronde artists represent traditional fishing and eel-gathering gear still in use.


Fishing at the falls, 1841 Image: Oregon Historical Society, 46193


Harley Crawford Stevens, Senior and Junior Photo: CCHS footer:

Farmers and Land Managers The Valley’s original landscapes––oak savannah and vast fields of camas, tarweed, and other crops––are evoked by gorgeous photographs of restored and remnant natural sites. Striking quotes by European immigrants reveal the Willamette Valley as “a sea of wheat.” In a short video, a tribal archaeologist describes how annual controlled burns kept the valley floor open and helped staple roots and grasses thrive. Another clip, narrated by a Native basket weaver, gives visitors some idea of the knowledge and time required to gather and prepare the surprisingly large amount of plant material needed to make a single basket. The basket woven in the video is on display for visitors to admire; a diagram and labels show how each plant contributes to the whole. Visitors also play a matching game, sorting Willamette Valley plants into traditional uses for food, medicine, basketry, housing, and clothing. Bilingual labels teach them some words in Chinook Wawa, once a trade language, still spoken fluently by many members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Newcomers The story of French Prairie, where retired Métis fur traders from Canada married into local Kalapuya families, is told by their descendants of today. Visitors come to understand early agricultural life as these farmers worked some of the richest soil in the Valley. Touchable furs, replica skinning and tanning tools, and photographs of historic sites are accompanied by period and contemporary quotes. Visitors get a sense of an alternate history that would have been possible, if Native villages and life-ways had been respected and preserved by most newcomers to the Valley. The Great Transformation Faces of 19th to 21st century Oregon Natives and non-Native immigrants are intermingled in a photo collage. Descendants of Native and pioneer families, as well as more recently arrived Oregonians, offer glimpses of their family stories in pithy quotes. Mementoes of this complex era are featured in postcard-like views of cityscapes, landmarks, commemorative events, and other key sites where history lives, and can still be experienced. What’s Your Willamette Valley Story? Reflecting on how people have fared in this region in the past 200 years, visitors are invited to write their own stories on notecards and post them on a reader board.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Interpretive Approach


UPRIVER AND DOWNRIVER In this farewell gallery, a participatory guidebook helps visitors plan their journeys through the Willamette Falls Heritage Area. They meet “guides” who use different modes of transport to introduce attractions and events. A Grand Ronde canoe team member, the owner of a recreational fishing boat, a teenage kayaker, hikers at Champoeg, a grandmother and grandchild at Fields Bridge Park; these are just some of the guides who speak to visitors from their own experience, in quotes that motivate people to go see for themselves. Visitors find these guides, and changeable information about upcoming events, open hours, etc., in graphics and interactive monitors along a tabletop “river” that winds through the space. Don’t-miss places to visit are highlighted here. Take-away resources, accessible by phone and Internet, ensure that Willamette Falls: Through the Eyes Of... will be the starting point for many rewarding adventures. Changing Exhibits Gallery Drawn from the extensive collections of the Clackamas County Historical Society, changing displays highlight aspects of local and regional history. Connecting past and present, these exhibits complement and enrich the stories told in the main gallery.


Willamette Falls Photo: Mr. Gadget 51 (also pages 2, 3, and 4)





Deconstruct Existing Exhibit and Space abatement to be determined at the time the project starts

$ 50,000.00

Fabrication of Exhibits ~$300/sq ft at 4800 sq ft

$ 1,440,000.00

SUBTOTAL (direct costs)

$ 1,490,000.00

Design Development through Installation 25% of subtotal

$ 367,500.00 $ 1,857,500.00


$ 371,500.00

20% contingency for cost escalation (assumes construction starting in 2022.)


$ 2,229,000.00

Assumptions: This estimate is based on the Interpretive Plan dated 06 July 2018. As such the accuracy is within the general ideas and layouts presented. Additional estimates are required thoughout the design process.

Interpretive Master Plan FINAL DRAFT: Exhibit Implementation Budget

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7556 NE Stanton, Street | Portland, OR 97213

CCHS & WFHC Interpretive Master Plan  

The interpretive master plan for the Museum of the Oregon Territory redesign project. Created by Alchemy of Design.

CCHS & WFHC Interpretive Master Plan  

The interpretive master plan for the Museum of the Oregon Territory redesign project. Created by Alchemy of Design.