Elkton, Oregon, puts on a big Fort Umpqua Days event every year on Labor Day Weekend in celebration of the town’s history.This year it’s Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31.The British Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Umpqua in 1836 near where Elkton sprouted a few years later. It was the company’s southernmost fort in the Oregon Territory in the days when they essentially ruled the area, chasing the lucrative fur trade–before all those American pioneers started trekking west over the Oregon Trail.
The first fort burned in 1851, and a flood in 1861 washed away what was left of it. A few years ago citizens of the area decided to reconstruct the fort on a site just downriver from the original, and the work continues today with new buildings going up inside the wooden palisade walls, with considerable effort made to keep things authentic. Now the HBC flag flies again.
So, during Fort Umpqua Days we celebrate with a parade and a history pageant, a craft fair, and other events. I’ve enjoyed serving on the writing team for the pageant the last few years, in which the history is told with a bit of humor and a bit of truth. And this year I’ll have an outdoor booth for selling and signing my book about one of those intrepid American pioneers–my own ancestor Martha Poindexter Maupin.
Last year kids came into the fort grounds to learn how people at the old fort cooked and kept gardens and washed their clothes, which was probably a whole lot more fun for the kids than for those guys at the original fort. Inside, there are furs and stories aplenty to whet the imagination.
The event is open to the public and fun for kids of all ages. If you enjoy taking a step into the past, here’s a great place to do it. 🙂