Visited 6 Sep 2009 – In celebration of the 173rd birthday of the HBC Fort Umpqua Jerry Winterbotham, author of several books on Fort Umpqua, cut a symbolic rope and opened the gates to the reconstructed fort. The cutting of the rope marked the completion of the outer stockage walls and the two corner bastions. A large gathering of Fort Umpqua supporters looked on as Jerry cut the rope and the new gates were swung open to reveal a lone bagpiper. The rope cutting was preceded by remarks from Carol Beckley, Don Guentner, Merrel Smith and Keith Carr, all instrumental in the great success of the reconstruction of Fort Umpqua.
Following the gate opening ceremony a raffle was held for an elaborate quilt depicting pioneer quilting squares placed on a huge map of the early Oregon trails. Robin, the quilt raffle winner, donated the quilt to the new library in exchange for a replacement offered by Joanne Smith, the fort’s chief fund raiser. A flutter of butterflies was released at the gate and proceeded to inaugurate the passageway, except for a couple that didn’t want to to leave. A round of musket fire by period reenactors livened up the festivities and the birthday cake was served. Copies of Jerry’s book, “Hudson’s Bay Fort at Elkton, Oregon: A short History” were offered for sale and Jerry generously signed them.
This was a great way to mark what has been a tremendous community effort to reach this milestone. Lots of work remains to complete the three interior structures but this group of dedicated volunteers has done a great job getting to this important milestone. This fort will be a great historical asset to Elkton and to the State of Oregon, shedding light on an almost forgotten era of our history.
The trip down to Elkton was marked by some rain showers but, as always, it is a beautiful drive and takes only about two hours from Salem. If you haven’t yet seen the reconstructed Fort Umpqua, it is ready for visitors.
This post was written by JohnStanton on September 8, 2009