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Oregon Trail 1843-1993

Many different businesses, both old Portland and new, sponsored our publications. We published 10 numbered editions in our volume on the Oregon Trail and two more that were primarily promotional pieces. We planned many of our next volume while we were working on them. Our Oregon Trail Historical Gazette editions are dedicated to telling the history of the largest voluntary Western Migration. We did not re-write history to suit our tastes, but instead presented it as we found it, in the stories of the day. We chose to do two editions per decade, ending with when the train came into town.

1843 Emigrant Wagons Roll Westward

1849 Gold Seekers Rush to California

1856 Border Wars or Indian Massacres

1859 Oregon Territory Joins the Union

1863 War Disrupts Manifest Destiny

1869 Roads Bring Soldiers & Emigrants

1873 Oregon, Land of Gold & Opportunity

1877 Chief Joseph Surrenders to Col. Miles

1880 The Columbia River: Trail to Trade

1883 Trains Roll Emigrants Westward

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19 October 2017 ~ Maybe you own one of my Oregon Trail Historical Gazettes, perhaps tucked away in your souvenirs from those days in 1993. I made several appearances at different events. I either gave away or sold my Gazettes. Perhaps you met me at the Oregon Fair in 1993. I had a table at the Oregon Author's Table, thanks to an arrangement by Bert Weber, a book publisher for whom I did some minor sales work. He published new, and reprinted old books, about Oregon and the Pacific NW designed specifically for tourism. His niche was unique, profitable for him, and my Historical Gazette spoke to same audience of historical tourists. Today, the trend seems to be adrenal gland experiences that people seek rather than brain exercise and pondering of humans' history. The pendulum will swing back the other way some day. Perhaps when the number of elders tip the scale again.

Toward the beginning of publishing my Oregon Trail editions, the first couple of editions were published about the same time. One of them was an Oregon Trail Merchandise promo piece done for Made In Oregon. Evangelia K. O'Dell, a lovely, petite, dark-complexion woman with flashing eyes, she smiled much of the time we met to plan this edition. As I remember and review the creation of these different editions, I realize that I have several women I must thank for their help, their encouragement and their guidance in these history papers. O'Dell wrote a small article for one of my Oregon Trail papers in addition to being the main collaborator on that Made In Oregon Trail Merchandise edition.

I published at least 1,000 copies of that editon. Sold or given for free, it doesn't matter to me today, but at the time I was told that this particular edition would be given away as a value added item. By selling them, the stores had no incentive to order my later editions. Which ever way it worked, these were distributed by Made of Oregon to their own shops to explain what was happening in the coming months of 1993 and to keep in touch with those who already knew about the tourists that were coming down the trail. Or, so they thought. No one had bargained on it being one of the rainiest springs ever. Later, at the beginning of the Internet, I was contacted by many people in the Midwest who said they had planned a trip to Oregon to help celebrate the Migration, but couldn't do it because of the bridges being out on the Missouri river.

Another story covered by us during that Oregon Trail celebation years...of "Weinhard's Wagons Roll Westward". A peek: In the autumn of 1993 At the request of Henry Weinhards Brewery public relations team, we prepared a special reprint of 10,000 using the first "Emigrant Wagons Roll Westward" with a different Page Two to tell the story of the commemorative wagon train journey. These special reprints were presented in Oregon City at the End of the Trail Interpretive Center when the wagons returned home after being out all summer. The train could not go as far eastward to begin their journey as the spring rains had made floods in much of the midwest. A large crowd gathered in Oregon City to celebrate and greet the wagons with their re-enactors who were recreating some of the long journey made by the pioneers in 1843.

Twelve editions I recount here. All were individually different. As time goes along, I hope to add more of the back story of how they came about. I want to tell you about Ms. Kim Bates, Maryhurst student who helped me with the first edition of the Oregon Trail. She was a great help. I had the pieces, but couldn't see the big picture. She suggested several layout designs and made my job easier. During that time my trail was hard and my health wasn't the best. She was a big help. I do appreciate her, and thank also her counselor, Mike Burton, who sent her to me. I knew him from his time at Metro. Burton was a great resource in my search for stories and support.

I hope to elaborate more on the help I got in the early days from my typesetter, Alexis Morrison. She helped me along with my design and layout. Later, she told me that I inspired her to set out on her own and do her own business. I believe that she has managed quite well by doing that. I wish her well. When I first met her, I found her working for an old fashioned place, Baker Typesetting. He wasn't doing much work any more and she could tell she was the bread and butter, so better to set out on her own. She did and let me know it. I'm very glad she did. Thanks again, Alexis Morrison. She not only did work for me, but taught me how to do that work for myself using the program Pagemaker. The upgrades in the PC OS made the program unstable and shifted the layout so much it wasn't easy to use any more. Adobe stopped supporting this program as it became obsolete and I was unable to change horses mid stream. I stopped my paper publishing. Soon after, the Historical Gazette began to exist only on the Internet. In my mind, I still design them in my mind and hope some day to pass along this ability.

Other women I'd like to thank include Lynette Stinson, Chamber of Commerce (1991-1992), Jackie Linklater (OHS Bookshop, 1991-1996) and these are in addition to those I mention in my Women Win the Right to Vote edition... of course, I did have help from some men, but usually they were historians, authors and business men. I mention them elsewhere in reference to their profession and how they were involved.

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Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97205
(503) 222-1741
The place to learn about Oregon history and, a must do in Portland, is the Oregon History Center. Home of the Oregon Historical Society, which can trace roots back to the 1870's when the Pioneer families decided to mark their places in history. They collected things and photographs that they knew would be unique and treasured by future generations. This Pioneer Association founders eventually formed an organization with a library worthy of any place on the planet.

Without this research library, the Historical Gazette would have been, at times, devoid of copy. We would have been lost without their help navigating the volume of history available. How to choose, what to pick. What media of yesterday would I choose to be my featured writers of today? These were questions that were impossible to decide alone. It was my decision to publish stories as they appeared in the newspapers of yesterday without changing them. Other times, I decided to do my journalistic thing and write the story as if I had press released from which to draw the story. My chosen witnesses to history were often the newspaper writers of the day on the dates I was featuring. For an 1843 story, the written material had to be written during that time, or soon afterward, by a person who lived during that time. I spent hours in the Central Library downtown Portland, Oregon pouring over the microfiche that held the newspaper stories of the day.

With guidance of the librarians and research clerks, plus help from the local historians who were good to give me their time and opinions. Among my most trusted counselors, I found author, E. Kimbark MacColl and historian, Chet Orloff gave me clues and news as to what to use in my paper. I also shall be always grateful to Bill Naito, who offered up suggestions and encouragement in spite of others in his organization working to spite me. They put my product under cover and sold my papers when they had been done as a promo donation, gratis. I had blessings and I had curses. I lived because of both. One helping me, and the other, challenging me. Like the boomtown publishers and pioneers we wrote about, we were always on the edge of starvation.

That'd be me and my partner, Keith Whittle. He helped me do my projects, like the Historical Gazette and I helped him do his projects, like the Atomic Veterans History Project. It was pretty much just he and I... he and me... Him and I... how ever you say it, it's been mostly just us two all along. That and our keyboards. Without the computer and the Internet, much of what we've done would have been impossible. Long live the right to read and think what you want. Let's work to keep these tools at our fingertips. He says he's retired... and so am I... but I just can't help doing what I've always done... read, interpret... write up my thoughts... my ponderings... and so, when I feel good enough, I work on the things that make my heart beat faster, my mind think harder and my spirit soar in hope for our future... I'm putting all these links together at a place I call Alma Haus Press... Come visit me sometime.


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Bridget E. Smith, editor & publisher

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Historical Gazette
Published in Portland, Oregon
© 1991-2017