Tasting Local History
It’s time for Fort Umpqua Days again, an annual event in my hometown of Elkton, Oregon, when we honor our past and have some fun doing it. It’s Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 5 and 6, pretty much all day, at the Elkton Community Education Center just west of town.
The photo above shows the massive gates for the reconstructed Fort Umpqua, which was the southernmost fort of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the 19th century. Thanks to the dedication of local people this fort was reconstructed with an eye to authenticity so folks can get a glimpse of life back then.
I’m particularly interested in the period because I write about it. In my first book, A Place of Her Own, my great-great-grandmother comes to Elkton near where the fort stood. The fort has fallen by the time she gets there and the British have left the area following the 1846 settlement of a boundary at the 49th parallel. However, conditions haven’t changed dramatically. It’s a part of her immediate history. And in my next book, a novel called The Shifting Winds, the story opens in 1842 when Oregon was still contested territory between the British and the Americans, and tensions stirred rumors of war. In my story a triangle romance parallels the conflict, when two young men, a Hudson’s Bay Company clerk and an American mountain man, vie for the protagonist, a young pioneer woman who never wanted to leave her New York home in the first place.
So I revel in events like this that help bring history alive. Also, I serve on the writing committee for the annual pageant that’s performed both nights of the event, where we bring out a little history with a bit of humor and music and dance and a whole lot of fun. During the day there are games for the kids down at the fort, crafts for sale, food, black powder demonstrations by our own mountain men, and more.
I’ll have a booth both days where I’ll be selling and signing copies of A Place of Her Own, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re in the neighborhood, welcome to a dip into our past.