Lewis and Clark: From Expedition to Exposition, 1803-1905

Starting a New Century: The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, 1905

Celebrating Settlement: Agrarian Oregon

The era of the Exposition was a time of agricultural optimism. Wheat farmers had begun pushing south from the Columbia River in the 1880s and were now supporting new towns like Wasco and Moro. Sheepherders traded their wool at Shaniko at the terminus of the Columbia and Southern Railroad. Hood River orchardists were sawing down the Douglas fir trees that filled the valley, killing the stumps with arsenic, and planting apple trees. James J. Hill began to push the North Bank Railroad (now the Burlington Northern) along the Columbia from Pasco to Portland in 1906 and Swift and Company built a huge new meat packing plant in North Portland. Headlines in a special issue of the Oregonian on January 1, 1910, told the excitement: “Wheat Output Will Be Enormous” — “Interior Towns Face Bright Future” — “Oregon Forging to Front as Livestock State.”

Each county had an alcove to show off its products and accomplishments. Baker and Josephine counties displayed mineral samples. Lane showed off canned goods. Douglas featured bunches of grapes and bottles of wine. Morrow and Umatilla highlighted sheaves and bags of grain. Stuffed sheep overlooked the Marion County section. Elk towered over Union County.

It is worth a special look at the Coos County exhibit, for the coastal community erected its own building, assembled from Coos County materials. “I was proud of Coos County,” wrote one visitor in her diary. “She is the only county that has a building. . . . one of their exhibits was the ‘North Bend manufacturing Company’. . . they had all sorts of fish, clams and oysters. . . some fine doors and other things.” The interior was paneled with coastal myrtle, maple, ash, madrone, chittum, yew, and cedar. Inside was myrtle wood furniture, veneers, dairy products, and coal. By the front door was a 403-year-old Port Orford cedar log with a 173-year-old spruce growing from it.

Coos County was in the midst of a logging boom. At the time of the fair it already had eleven saw mills, twelve creameries, two woolen mills, and six shipyards. Dr. J.T. Marshfield, reported the Oregonian, called Coos Bay “a modern Venice with 100 gasoline launches to take the place of gondolas.” A huge integrated mill would open in 1908, building a railroad to the company town of Powers, drawing lumber from the hills along the Coquille River, and shipping lumber on modern ships to California, Latin America, and the Pacific.

© Carl Abbott, 2004. Updated and revised by OHP staff, 2014.

Related Oregon Encyclopedia Articles

Related Historical Records

Wool Buyers at Shaniko

This photograph features wool buyers at Shaniko in eastern Wasco County. In 1910, the approximate date of this photograph, Shaniko was a major transportation hub linking central and Eastern Oregon to larger markets throughout the United States.

The name “Shaniko” derives from the surname of August Schernecknau, a German emigrant. …

Designing the Fairgrounds

The site of the Exposition covered 182 acres of land and 220 acres of stagnant …


Making a Timber Industry

In 1905, the business of logging had an entire building to celebrate its development. The …


This entry was last updated on March 17, 2018