Northwest Blacksmith Association

Oregon’s Iron Jubilee: Celebrating 150 Years

Date(s) - 09/09/2017
3:00 pm - 9:00 pm

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Oregon iron industry. The discovery of iron near Oswego in 1861 was an important event in the development of the West. Prior to 1867 all iron on the Pacific Coast—both rough bars called “pig iron” and finished iron products—had to be shipped 17,000 miles around the Horn in a hazardous voyage that took five months. The cost of these imports was often ten times their cost in the East. On August 24, 1867 the first iron manufactured on the Pacific Coast was cast at the blast furnace that still stands in George Rogers Park.

Newspapers from British Columbia to San Francisco hailed this event as “a cause for sincere rejoicing.” Legendary San Francisco photographer Carleton E. Watkins captured images of the new works shortly after they went into operation. To satisfy a curious public, Watkins produced both mammoth prints and stereo views of the works. The importance of the iron industry to Oswego is commemorated in its oldest street names. When J. C. Trullinger filed the plat for Oswego in January 1867, he named six of the streets after the furnace and the men responsible for building it. This original town site is now Lake Oswego’s Old Town Neighborhood.

On September 9 the Lake Oswego Preservation Society and the City of Lake Oswego will celebrate the birth of the Oregon iron industry with a family-friendly jubilee in George Rogers Park. Festivities will include a pioneer base ball game; bluegrass music and clogging; a blacksmith demonstration; horse drawn wagon rides between the furnace and the Society’s new museum housed in the last remaining Iron Company Worker’s Cottage. The celebration will highlight the City’s nationally recognized role in preserving the furnace and the workers cottage. The festival’s grand finale will be a fireworks display.

Sponsorship opportunities for the Jubilee, the first festival to celebrate Lake Oswego’s history, are available. Please contact Debbi Campbell:

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