ST. PAUL, Ore. -- If the pioneers didn’t tough it out and make their way across the Oregon Trail, we wouldn’t be here.
It was a rough journey back in the mid-1800s, and we still have a lot to learn from them today. Things like how they lived and what kind of tools they used. A lot of those artifacts are still around, but could disappear if they’re not moved soon.
That’s because a lot of them are being stored in a log cabin along the Willamette River. The Pioneer Mother’s Memorial Cabin to be exact.
"They couldn't cook with a stove or a microwave because they didn't have that back then," said 4th grader Caitlyn Cannan who was on a field trip to the cabin.
She’s just one of nearly 2,000 Oregon school children who visit the historic cabin every year. Students get hands-on lessons in baking where they learn to roll bread.
The kids work with wool – some of them feeling it for the first time.
“It feels weird,” said 10-year old Brooke Mondragon.
And the students get to wash clothes by hand, the same way the pioneers used to do it.
"I think we need to remember our heritage and the people that crossed the Oregon Trail and made it possible for us to live here," said Judy Van Atta, the director for the Pioneer Mother’s Cabin at Champoeg State Park.
She wanted to remind folks that Champoeg is where Oregon government began, but the town was wiped out by a flood in 1861. Nearly 70 years later, the cabin was built as a place to store Oregon Trail history and honor the pioneer women.
The log cabin sits on a beautiful piece of land on the bank of the Willamette River, which is a problem now for the property. In 1964, floodwaters from the Willamette reached the fireplace mantle and in 1996, the water reached the cabin steps.
If it floods again, there is fear that the cabin and everything inside, will be washed away.
"I think it's important that we take care of it and part of that is having to move it," said volunteer Carrie Friedrich.
The cabin will be moved this fall, taken apart piece by piece, nail by nail, and reconstructed about a mile uphill on the historic Newell House grounds.
The move will ensure that future generations can keep learning about Oregon’s past.
“How would we know what it was like back then, how would we know how they survived,"said10-year-old Michael McDonald.
If you want to see the cabin in its original location, before it moves, you can go anytime now until Labor Day. The director hopes they move it sometime after that.
Of course, the move doesn’t come cheap. It will cost nearly half-a-million dollars to move.
If you want to help here are a few ways you can do that:
Donations can be made through the website at www.newellhouse.com/SaveCabin.html or they can mail their donations to Pioneer Mothers Memorial Cabin, c/o Newell House Museum, 8089 Champoeg Rd., NE, St. Paul, OR 97137.
Or, have them call 593-678-5537 for more information.