(Salem, Oregon - OR, USA)
For tourists who share an interest in different aspects of history, the museums of Salem will most likely deliver, and several of the best even feature free admission, making them all the more attractive.
The Willamette Heritage Center at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill boasts many interesting interpretive exhibits and historic buildings, and lives on the southeastern side of downtown Salem, close to the Bush Elementary School. Alternatively, at the expansive Antique Powerland, you could easily fill up an entire day wandering between the multitude of museums and riding along its scenic railroad.
Standing right next to the Willamette River, the A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village is to be found in between the Riverfront City Park and Marion Square Park, where it enjoys healthy visitor numbers. This is very much a family themed museum, with plenty of hands on fun for all ages to enjoy. The Forest History Center is another worthy distraction for visitors, as are the museums sited within Bush's Pasture Park and the Corban University campus.
Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill
Address: 1313 Mill Street Southeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 585 7012
Located just a stroll away from the Martha Springer Botanical Garden is the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill, which is a museum-type attraction based around the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill. The mill itself dates back to the latter part of the 1880s, while almost onsite are some additional old buildings, which have been relocated here and fully restored, and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These structures include the Methodist Mission Parsonage and the Jason Lee House - two of the oldest buildings still standing in Salem and dating back to the beginning of the 1840s. The John D. Boon House and the Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church also stand in as part of the complex and add further appeal, as does the monthly Big Band night.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 10:00 to 17:00
Admission: museum, charge, discounts available for seniors, students and children, Tuesdays and children five years old and under are free, free access to grounds
Forest History Center
Address: 2600 State Street, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97310, USA
Tel: +1 503 945 7208
The Forest History Center sits on the eastern side of downtown Salem, on State Street and just down the road from the State Lands Ballfields City Park. This attraction came into being to both preserve Oregon's rich forestry history whilst providing a place where members of the public can come to learn and research about this important legacy. The building itself is of historical interest, since it was built in the 1930s for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) next to Mill Creek. The following decade saw the building become the property of the Oregon Department of Forestry, and in 2001, the whole structure was actually lifted, placed on wheels and carefully relocated to its present setting. Exhibits include a selection of old black and white photographs, which show Oregon's tall lookout towers, oxen logging methods and the devastation of forest fires. There are also displays of vintage logging and firefighting tools, early radios and information about reforestation, as well as modern-day methods of forest maintenance involving satellites and computers.
Open hours: June to August, Friday and Saturday - 10:00 to 15:00; September to May, Friday - 10:00 to 15:00, or by appointment
A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village
Address: 116 Marion Street Northeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97301, USA
Tel: +1 503 371 3631
This museum is named after Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who was born right here in Salem in February 1884 and later became a famous inventor and toymaker, being best remembered for his 'Erector Set' (Meccano). A number of period buildings make up this complex, namely the Gilbert House, the Parrish House and the Rockenfield House. The community built open-air Children's Discovery Center is the perfect distraction for younger visitors on a sunny day, with its 16-meter / 52-foot Erector Set Tower, wooden paddle steamer, recreation of a woolly mammoth dig, rock climbing, miniature village, discovery garden, echo tube, talk boxes and amphitheater, which is perfect for picnicking on and features large games tables. Also worth looking out for is the small model railway and its working American Flyer trains, once one of the world's most popular toy trains and championed by Gilbert himself.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 10:00 to 17:00, Sunday - 12:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discounts available for seniors and children, children under one year old are free
Address: 3995 Brooklake Road Northeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97303, USA
Tel: +1 503 393 2424
When it comes to attractions dedicated to steam engines, old tractors and historic agricultural equipment, they don't come much bigger than the Antique Powerland. However, this is just for starters - this sprawling site combines an assortment of additional museums and attractions. These include the extensive Willow Creek Railroad and its sit-on passenger carriages, the Antique Implement Society, the Brooks Historical Society, the Northwest Blacksmith Association, the Northwest Vintage Car and Motorcycle Museum, the Oregon Two Cylinder Club, the Pacific Northwest Truck Museum, and the Oregon Fire Service Museum, Memorial, and Learning Center. Also based here is the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society, which offers its visitors antique electric trolley rides around the perimeter of the complex. If you are here at the end of July or in early August, then you will be able to join in the fun at the annual Great Oregon Steam Up, where demonstrations of sawmills, wheat harvests and historic farming gear are all part of the fun.
Open hours: March to October, Wednesday to Sunday - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, children 12 years old and under are free
Prewitt Allen Archaeological Museum
Address: 5000 Deer Park Drive Southeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97317, USA
Tel: +1 503 589 8128
Established in the middle of the 20th century, the Prewitt Allen Archaeological Museum is to be found within the library building on the campus of Corban University (second floor), on the southeastern side of Salem. Visitors will find close to 1,000 ancient artifacts on display, the majority of which originate from the Eastern Mediterranean and include ceramics (with remains from 3,000 BC), coins, clay tables, perfume bottles, important documents, various Bible-related objects and a rather exceptional collection of oil lamps dating back to the Bronze Age. There are also examples of the Egyptian art of mummification, along with numerous arrow heads and tools. However, the crowning glory is without question the ancient papyrus parchment from the turn of the 8th century, which is often referred to as the Allen Palimpsest.
Open hours: Monday to Thursday - 08:30 to 22:00, Friday - 08:00 to 17:30, Saturday - 10:30 to 17:00
Admission: free, donations accepted
Bush House Museum
Address: 600 Mission Street Southeast, Salem, Oregon (OR), 97302, USA
Tel: +1 503 363 4714
Close to the 2,500-seater McCulloch Stadium, the Bush House Museum resides within Bush's Pasture Park and tells the story of Oregon's rich history, heritage and culture. Guided tours will reveal many authentic period furnishings from the 19th century, together with original light fittings, portraits and other paintings. Additional features include a restored conservatory dating from the early 1880s, the Bush Barn Art Center
and a series of surrounding walking trails, which connect the Civic Rose Garden and several children's playgrounds.
Open hours: March to mid-December, Wednesday to Sunday - 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00
Admission: charge, discounts available for seniors, students and children, children five years old and under are free