Looking for the Brownsville Historic Pioneer Museum? That’s our nickname. Officially, we are the Linn County Historical Museum, located in historic Brownsville, Oregon.
Founded in 1962, the Museum’s exhibits are displayed in Brownsville’s original railroad depot and six Southern Pacific railroad cars. Our collections cover the lives, work, and cultures of Native People, Oregon Trail immigrants, pioneer settlers, and early families and communities in Linn County. You will also find exhibits on the Brownsville Mill Race (the earliest source of local industrial hydro-power), the Brownsville Woolen Mill and regional mining. One of the boxcars is even a 29 seat theater, The Boxcar Theater. We also house a fairly extensive, and well used, Genealogy Section. Of particular interest is the Covered Wagon that carried the Drinkard family across the Oregon Trail in 1865.
The Historic 1881 Moyer House is also part of the Museum. Located just a block and a half South of the main Museum, you can tour the house on weekends, or by prior arrangement on any day the museum is open.
Now listed on the National Register of Historic places, this beautiful example of Italianate Architecture was built to as the home of John and Elizabeth Moyer. The Moyers were an influential couple in Brownsville who created a beautiful home in which they could entertain in style. The extensive painting and stenciling in every room is unique and impressive.
Lovingly restored over the years by the Linn County Museum Friends the Moyer House is now visited by school groups, history buffs, senior groups and the general public. Tickets are available at the Museum, $2.00 per adult, $1.00 per child 12 and under. Tours are scheduled on the hour.
History of the Museum
In 1962, the Linn County Historical Society and the City of Brownsville worked together to create the Linn County Historical Museum. Under the leadership of Floyd Jenks of Tangent and others, many county residents contributed time, talent, funds and artifacts to create the new museum. Frieda and Ben Fisher of Brownsville and Elaine and Edward Poland of Shedd led the search of the back rooms, barns and attics of Linn County for relics of its past. In only a few months they and others arranged for the June opening of the original store-front museum on Spaulding Avenue in Brownsville.
Over the years, the collection grew and expanded into an adjacent building and in 1984 was moved to the current facility at 101 Park Ave in Brownsville.
The new facility in the old relocated Brownsville Railroad Depot and 6 Southern Pacific boxcars was dedicated on June 16, 1984. It captures the essence of early Linn County life with replicas of a general store, a bank, a barber shop and milliner’s shop among others. Visitors are charmed by the “Grandmother’s Attic” feel of the museum with it’s scenes of domestic life and Main Street ambiance. Our exhibits are rich with the artifacts, clothing and turn-of-the-century tools of the trade.
The Drinkard wagon is one of the museum’s treasures…one of only 3 remaining wagons still intact after making the rigorous six month journey across the Oregon Trail. This wagon brought the Drinkard Family from Missouri to Halsey, Oregon in 1865. Seeing this rugged wagon allows visitors to understand the immense challenges early Euro-Americans actually faced during the great Westward Migration.
William Drinkard was a Confederate soldier imprisoned in Iowa when his wife Martha Ann learned he could be released on promise of leaving the war effort behind. Martha Ann sold their home and goods, purchased and outfitted this wagon, packed up the 4 kids and left Missouri for Iowa. Accompanied by several other family members they then headed West. Martha Ann drove this wagon, William drove his Mother’s wagon and the children walked or rode horses. They arrived in Halsey in the Fall of 1865, shortly before Martha Ann gave birth.
A truly unique feature of this museum is our Boxcar Theater. Housed in one of our 6 boxcars, the theater is equipped with 29 seats salvaged from Brownsville’s old Linn Theater, along with the original neon sign.
The theater is available for movie watching whenever the museum is open. We have a large selection of movies; comedy, drama, westerns, Disney, documentaries, old and new. Of course we also have the Famous movie filmed here in Brownsville…1986’s “Stand By Me”.
Watch for monthly movie nights featuring fun, seasonal, vintage and recent movies from our collection.
This is a perfect place for Birthday parties, school visits, family gatherings, rainy afternoons, or just to while away a little time. Come in and let us entertain you!
Movie list coming soon.
The museum has an extensive, well organized and well used Genealogy section. We have Linn County Donation Land Claim information, Cemetery Records, Census Records from 1849-1910, Marriage records 1850-1921, adoption records 1876-1919, obituaries and many, many photos of people, places and things from Linn County. We also have books and files on specific Pioneer families as well as general history books of Linn County places and people. Our wonderful staff and volunteers are always ready to help with your research.
In addition to the museum collections, the Brownsville Library also keeps local history and genealogy information, a short walk from the museum.
Come by and see us soon!