THE NATIONAL HISTORIC OREGON TRAIL INTERPRETIVE CENTER
   150 years ago, pioneers came for two thousand miles over the Oregon and California Trails to find new lives in the West.  Mothers, fathers, and children walked with their wagons across endless prairies, scorched deserts, craggy summits, and swollen rivers. Days were hot and nights were bitter cold.  Often, they fought starvation, and for five months straight they marched as far as twenty miles a day.
  Despite the distance and perils, over 300,000 departed from Missouri. Between 1810 and 1860, approximately 60,000 of those pioneers came to Oregon, mainly to find farmland. At the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center at Flagstaff Hill in Baker City, Oregon, visitors can learn and re-experience the Oregon Trail story.
    The Oregon Trail interpretive Center offers a variety of opportunities. An exhibit hall uses artifacts, graphics, videos, and quotes from pioneer diaries to acquaint you with the Trail.  For most visitors, the most impressive feature of the Center is a 100 foot long gallery in which trail life has been dramatically re-created with full size replica wagons, human and animal figures, and sound effects recreating creaking wagons, pioneer chatter, and the jangling chains of plodding oxen.
    The Leo Adler Theater offers living history dramatic presentations, lectures, and films. Outside the 23,000 square foot interpretive Center, over four miles of trails lead hikers to different vistas of the spectacular Baker Valley and Blue Mountains. Ruts of the Oregon Trail still exist at the base of Flagstaff Hill, and visitors can walk alongside ground firmly trampled by thousands of pioneer wagons and footsteps.
    The Center focuses on six themes: Natural History, Pre-emigrant travelers and explorers, Native Americans along the Oregon Trail, and Emigrant Life, The General Land Office and Bureau of Land Management, and the Mining and Settlement of Northeast Oregon. A pioneer encampment with wagons and tents is frequently staffed by re-enactors demonstrating cooking and crafts. A lode mining camp, including a five-stamp gold mill is currently under construction, to recreate a typical setting from the mining era, which lured many settlers to Northeast Oregon in the 1860ís.
     The Center has been open since 1992, and is operated by the Bureau of Land Management in partnership with Trail Tenders, and The Oregon Trail Preservation Trust.
    Visitors should plan at least two hours to take advantage of all the exhibits, theater programs, and hiking trails, and to visit the Oregon Trail Shop with its large selection of books and products related to Oregon Trail history. Many travelers combine a trip to the Center with visits to Hell's Canyon, the historic mining town of Sumpter or a tour of the restored buildings in Historic Baker City.
    The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is open seven days a week, except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. November 1st through March 31st hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 1st through October 31st it is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission fees are charged. For more information, call the Center at 541-523-1843, or the Baker County Visitor and Convention Bureau at 1-800-523-1235.
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