SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Salem in 2000

World Events
  • Terrorists bomb USS Cole in Yemen.
  • The summer Olympics are held in Sidney, Australia.
  • George W. Bush defeats Al Gore in the closest presidential election in history
In Salem


 Historic Salem and Eola were two Oregon towns separated not only by a river, but also by county lines. In Polk County, Eola was absorbed by West Salem and, in 1947, the residents voted to be incorporated into the city of Salem in Marion County. However, there are many towns in Polk County that have distinct characters of their own, and it is this historical preservation that concerned residents who organized the Polk County Historical Society in 1959. In 1995, that society merged with a community group interested in establishing a county museum. Fortunately, a large private donation was offered for the project and this inspired smaller matching contributions. A mortgage for the last one-third of the cost was paid off in 2005, five years after the construction. The all-volunteer staff is proud that the only government support has come from Polk County cooperation in use of a portion of fairgrounds property, as seen in the photograph above.
The 14,000 square-foot, 2-story museum has dozens of different exhibit areas including Native American artifacts, industry from farming to timber, an automobile and stagecoach, an old-fashioned doctor/dentist office and period room furnishings. Its charm is in introducing visitors to a "home town" atmosphere that makes historic preservation a pleasure to experience.
Of special interest on the second floor galley is an inter-active time line teaching young students about important events in history. For researchers, the archive has approximately 6,000 photographs. The library contains 50,000 files on Polk County.

When you visit




Since the museum opened in 2000, Hwy 22, west from Salem, has had major renovations. The museum is now an easy 11 miles west of the Marion Street Bridge on that highway, turning south on 99E to Rickreall.

The museum also maintains the historic Brunk House. Harrison Brunk and his wife Emily Waller lived in Missouri before making the overland trip to Oregon. They freed their slaves and packed their possessions into two prairie schooners with four oxen to pull each wagon for the seven-month journey west. Following the Barlow Road, they arrived in Polk County where they took a Donation Land Claim northwest of Rickreall. The couple lived in a log cabin until their home was completed (by a neighbor) at a cost of $844 in 1861. More information about Polk County history is found in Pioneer History to about 1900 Churches of Christ and Christian Churches in the Pacific Northwest. This National Register property is on Hwy 22 near the junction with Hwy 51, Eola. Hours are Tuesday, 9-noon. No admission, donations only.

Other Events
  • Salem's population is 128,595.
  • Larry Wacker retired as City Manager and Bob Wells is appointed in an interim position.
  • Section 61 of city charter: annexations must be approved by a vote of the people. (Ballot Measure 24-34)
State of Oregon team keeping government computers working in 2000
  • As the capital city of Oregon, Salem was in the midst of the predicted Y2K crisis for state government computers. Much of the alarm was hype, but some of it was real, and state agencies did a good job to fix things before it could occur. Dedicated State of Oregon employees kept the state government computers from crashing as the calendar turned over into the new century.
  • A dedication ceremony for Courthouse Square was held on September 29. Dignitaries present included former U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield who acquired the federal funding for the transit portion of the project. Bus operations at the former on-street transfer facility on High Street ceased at the end of the day on Saturday, September 30 and began at the new R. G. Andersen-Wyckoff Transit Mall on Monday, October 2. The first phase move of county employees from the Customer Service, Operations Supervisors, and Security Offices at 183 High Street to the first floor of Courthouse Square coincided with the beginning of bus operations there. The second phase move of administrative employees from 3140 Del Webb Avenue to the new fifth floor offices at Courthouse Square was made the week prior to the opening of business there on Monday, November 6.
  • Fairview Training Center closed this year. Established by the state in 1908 as the Oregon State Institute for the Feeble Minded, it opened on December 1st of that year with the transfer of 39 adults and children from the Insane Asylum, until that time the only state institution that could provide them with any professional care. Harry E. Bickers of Pendleton was appointed Superintendent of that first home and had supervised the construction of the first five buildings—dormitory, administration building, laundry, a brick powerhouse, and a barn. A reporter described the main buildings as resembling "…a magnificent southern mansion." Here were located the superintendent’s office, reception rooms, attending physician’s office (Dr. W. Carlton Smith was the first to serve in that capacity), and schoolrooms. Separate dormitories for male and female students were maintained, and later the children were grouped in families of 20 to 25 according to levels of intelligence. When it closed in 2000, the few remaining residents were transferred to group homes or returned to live with their families.
  • A reprise of Salem Hospital's "Century of Service", written by John McMillan, is published online on the Public Library's Salemhistory website.

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