I can still remember logging onto a computer to play the Oregon Trail video game when I was a child during the 1990s. My wagon would slowly attempt to make its way west so that my characters could have better lives. You could never be sure if one of your party members would catch cholera or not. One of the most exciting days of my childhood was finding out that the Oregon Trail had actually existed and that there were museums you could visit to learn more about the real life adventures of regular people.
The End of the Oregon Trail is located in Oregon City, OR and is the definitive place to learn about the Oregon Trail in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors come from all over the country during their road trips to stop at this wonderful museum. Oregon City was at the end of the trail so it’s only appropriate that there is a major museum presence. Although it was closed for some time, it was recently announced that the museum is back in business and doing better than ever.
What to See?
The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center’s mission is to bring history alive. Instead of relying on having stagnant displays alone, costumed actors reenact many of the situations at the settlers went through on their way to Oregon during a show every hour. The museum only costs $5 per person (children under three are free) making it accessible to anyone who wants to visit. There is a movie playing about the Oregon Trail experience every thirty minutes for those who would like a more in-depth explanation on the history.
Be sure to check out the wonderful gardens outside the building. The gardens have been designed to showcase local flora. These gardens have won awards for their beauty and are quite stunning in my opinion. There’s even a wagon nearby the entrance that you can take a picture on. The whole campus is designed to make history interesting so that people keep coming back to learn about what was an important part of American history.
What to Eat?
There’s isn’t a café on site so you’ll have to eat something elsewhere in town or bring a picnic lunch along with you during your visit. The nearest decent place to eat is a Mexican restaurant called Super Torta Super Torta offers a fine selection of burritos, tacos, tortillas and other yummy foods.
What’s the Cultural Value?
As the official marker of the end of the Oregon Trail, this location is a high culture value. Its places like this that represents American history. The ground you stand on while visiting this museum represents the final stop on what was a difficult six month journey across dangerous territory where a good percentage of people didn’t make the trip alive. At the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center, you are able to truly understand the ideals of determination and the American dream in its finest form.
Recommended Place to Stay
The Best Western is a highly rated hotel right on the Willamette River. An interesting thing to note historically is that this was the river that many settlers sailed down to make their final approach towards the end of the trail. It has a lot of amenities and is an excellent location for you to get a good feel for what the area is like outside of the museum.
How Is the Overall Rating?
The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center is a great place to take your family for a positive educational experience. It’s one of the best museums regarding the Oregon Trail and has an approach that makes puts it above other museums in the area. The only major downside is that there aren’t any food options on site. I give this place a 4/5 because it’s a great educational experience that’s worth the visit.