Remnants of the Aurora Colony

June 23, 2009

Aurora was the destination for the June 23 bus trip. This was the site for the utopian society established by Dr. William Keil in 1856. By 1867, the settlement numbered 600 people. The pioneers built their own homes, shops and mills on the 18,000 acres of communal lands.

While the colony lifestyle required a measure of isolation from the world, proximity to markets and outsiders benefited colonists.

After Dr. Keil’s death in 1877, the colony dissolved their organization and each member received a fair share of the holdings and property. Many businesses and industries became privately owned. Some of them were operated by former colony members and their descendents. Today, Aurora is a historic district with about 20 Colony sites.

On our way up I-5, we stopped at the Santiam River rest stop for coffee and goodies provided by the Hospitality committee. Our Obsidian bird expert, Rick Ahrens, pointed out the different kinds of birds along the river.

Then off to the 1860 farm in Hubbard owned by a colony member. Aurora Colony Museum curator, Patrick Harris, gave us a tour of all the buildings set among the hop farms (also there in Colony times), and a superb view of Mt. Hood. This was a stunning view of life in the 1860s.

At Aurora we visited the old Aurora Colony Museum. Patrick gave us a tour of the cabin, barn house, garden and the ox-barn. We had lunch in the garden. It was a treat to see the old equipment and tools, many of which are still operable.

Aurora is known as an antique center, including businesses in Old Colony buildings. Obsidians found gems in the shops.

We also stopped at Vogets meats in Hubbard and the 1896 Baumen Farms in Gervais. The Bus Trippers helped the local economy

Riders were Rick Ahrens, Don Baldwin, Barbara Beard, Paul Beard, MaryLee Cheadle, Barbara Flanders, Dennis Flanders, Donna Halker, Verna Kocken, Earline Kopriva, Tom Kopriva, Dot Leland, John McManigal, Lenore McManigal, Barbara Payne, Don Payne, Dick Speelman, Janet Speelman and MaryEllen West; and guests Gloria Roat and Janice White.

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