NaNo Day Twenty-One inspiration: A Little Historical Research

I was happy to be invited on my weekend to join with CKI as their keynote speaker. In addition to its being a great opportunity to share my skills with students, getting there gave my husband the opportunity to visit his Mom, and us the opportunity to make a road trip out of a speaking engagement.

I let him do the research; his goal was to find some fun stops along the way that would give us something to explore and a place for a nice meal before he dropped me at camp.

He gave me the options he’d found, and one of them spoke to me right away, of course, becuaue it was historical! Imagine my delight when I realized that the site he chose for us to explore was a working farm started in 1911 – though in a neighboring state, encompassing the time from the setting of my book, which takes place between 1915 and 1919. These connections help me to visualize the world of my characters, so for me, it was a research trip.

This wasn’t just any working farm, established in 1911. This was the Multnomah County Poor Farm, now McMenamin’s at Edgefield.

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McMenamin’s restaurants are, so many of them, located in historic buildings. This McMenamin’s site is much more than a restaurant. It’s a whole complex, with, among other things to experience, regular full-menu restaurants plus a host of pubs and other places to enjoy some refreshment.

We chose a rainy day to explore, but that didn’t get in our way, too much. The grounds are large, and we followed the map from place to place, poking into this shop or that, cupping our hands to look through the windows of establishments which weren’t open at the time. Each building’s historical use was detailed on the back of the map, and I referenced it frequently, gaining a picture of long ago in buildings standing before me.

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It was hard to imagine just how much acreage of farmland was tended by the inmates, partly because the modern landscape has taken over somewhat. However, I got a sense of what was expected of those who worked this very active and productive farm. One of the things which was expressly forbidden to the inmates of the farm was walking on the highway. I found this most interesting. One of the lists of regulations indicated that they were not to block traffic. That was probably an issue when roads were narrow and not well-maintained.

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We wandered through the kitchen garden for one of the restaurants. I was almost sorry later that we’d chosen a different one for dinner, but I couldn’t be too sorry. The meal we enjoyed was lovely.

We left after dark, so missed some of the features, such as the Jerry Garcia statue and the amphitheater. But we didn’t miss this.

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Or this.

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Or this.

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We wondered what might grow in this bed in the fanciful herb garden…

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A little historical tour goes a long way to inspire.

Next up: the other end of the road trip: another historical tour, this time on the highway.

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About vst3in

I am a writer, avid reader, library techie, birder and runner. I make felt and teach others. I love colors and textures and birds and books. I'm working on a historical novel and reading lots of books for young people. I am running to get stronger, and I sail with my husband. This blog contains thoughts about all these things.
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