Thursday, July 5, 2018

Brownsville: My New Home Town

Five years ago my wife and I moved away from Eugene, a Mid-size city/college town at the South end of the Willamette Valley. We had lived there for close to fifty years, but knew we didn't want to retire there. We moved about 35 miles up the road toward Portland to a quaint little town called Brownsville. (pop. 1630) It's one of Oregon's oldest pioneer communities. We were still working at the time, so we commuted from here to Eugene until we retired.

Most people have heard of Brownsville. Maybe even been there a couple of times. When I tell someone who knows of it that I live there. Their reaction is almost always the same. Their eyes light up and a wide smile crosses their face. It seems their whole demeanor changes.
It's as if someone had offered them a whole box of glazed jelly donuts. And almost without question, the first words out of their mouth are, “Really, I've been to Brownsville. I love Brownsville. That's the coolest little town.”

I couldn't agree more.

Welcome to Brownsville, Oregon

Today I'm on an early morning walk. It's the start of another beautiful Summer day. I find myself at the south end of town and as I turn North onto Main street I can see it. Off in the distance, at the far end of the road is the town's original hardware store. It's in the “old town” section of town. The building sits perfectly framed under the steel girders of a faded green truss bridge that spans across the slow rolling Calapooia river. Like a patriarch from the past, it greets everyone who turns north off the highway onto Main street. “Carlson's”. The stores' name is emblazoned across the front of the freshly painted covered boardwalk.

Bridge over the Calapooia. Carlson's straight ahead

It's impossible not to take notice of the old wood and brick framed structure. It comes complete with a couple of hitching posts out front for that subtle hint of authenticity and a reminder that at the time this structure was first built, horses still ruled. I'm impressed at the foresight the original owner must have had. This is a prime real estate location if I ever did see one.  

It may be a simple hardware store, but don't let that stop you from taking a venture inside. As soon as you step through the door you'll get a sense of the towns rich history. The musty smell and easy feel of the old wood floor is unmistakable. The many years of constant use play upon the cracks of the original oiled boards. With each squeak and creak beneath your feet, you'll be hearing the same tune these old growth fir boards have played for over a hundred years. I love it. Maybe you will too.

Carlson's Hardware Store

I'm a regular at the hardware store, but it's only one of many commercial buildings that line Main Street. Several others go way back to the towns early years including the historic Brownsville saloon. Some of the greats of country music used to frequent the saloon in years gone by. It's rumored that actor, Sam Elliott , who makes his home just outside of Brownsville, stops by to tip back a cold one from time to time.  

The Brownsville Saloon

The town also boasts many older historic homes. Some of these grand old manors date back as far as the late 1800's.

The impressive Moyer house is one of them. Its elegant grandeur will catch your eye. What a fine example of an Italianate Villa style home. Built in 1881 by John and Elizabeth Moyer, the house has been completely restored to its original design. It now serves as the town's unofficial ambassador as it beckons passers by to stop and take a closer look. The property is associated with the towns museum and is open for tours.

The Moyer House In Oldtown Brownsville

Brownsville is an easy town to fall in love with. There's a rich history here. A history complete with a gracious and caring community of people who still believe in going out of their way to help a neighbor in need.

For the few years I've been here, I can honestly say I like this town. For what it's worth, all of you “out-of-towners” who get that “glazed jelly donuts” look on your face when you find out I'm from Brownsville. I eat those donuts and yes, they're good.

Main Street in Brownsville, Oregon