New exhibit details 1800s exploration


Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 12.35.25 PMBAKER CITY — The name of John Charles Fremont is woven into history from the years 1840 to 1880 — from his frontier exploration up through the Civil War.

A new exhibit at Baker City’s National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center details the life of Fremont, and his impact on the settling of the west. Titled “Finding Fremont: Pathfinder of the West,” the display will be up in the Flagstaff Gallery through Dec. 10. The center is open daily at 9 a.m., and is located five miles east of Baker City on Highway 86.

Fremont’s 1843 to 1844 expedition passed through eastern and central Oregon and northern Nevada with guides Kit Carson and Billy Chinook. His exploration provided a reliable guide and map for most of the Oregon Trail. In the late 1840s, he also collected at least 32 types of plants previously unknown to science during one of his expeditions west.

The Nevada State Museum and the Deschutes County Historical Society developed the exhibit, which started its tour in Carson City in 2015. It includes photographs by Loren Irving who in 2009 traced Fremont’s passage through Oregon using his published journals and coordinates.

The exhibit includes a replica of the party’s mountain howitzer cannon, plus carriage relics, coins, cooking pots and similar artifacts found at campsites. Pieces come from the Nevada State Museum, Arizona Historical Society, the Deschutes Historical Museum and the U.S. Forest Service.

Earlier this month, Irving presented a program on how modern day volunteer explorers located and documented the historic campsites of Fremont’s expedition through central Oregon. Using coordinates and reports by Fremont, the team found several of the campsites and relics of the expedition, including pieces of a howitzer cannon that were abandoned in 1844.

The Center is currently open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 adults, $4.50 for seniors, and free for children 15 and younger. Federal passes are also accepted. Call 541-523-1843 for updates on programs and events or visit

Also this month

Special programs are planned for nearly every day at the Interpretive Center:

July 20:

  • “An Evening Chat,” 11 a.m.
  • Thursday Outdoor Club, 1 p.m.

July 21:

  • “Campfire Conversations,” 11 a.m.
  • Fire Making Demo, 1 p.m.

July 22:

  • “Joe Meek,” 11 a.m.
  • Fire Making Demo, 1 p.m.

July 23:

  • Pioneer Demo, 11 a.m.

July 24:

  • “Women of the Oregon Trail,” 11 a.m.

July 25:

  • “Poultry Pioneers,” 10 a.m.
  • History Hike, 1 p.m.

July 26:

  • “Campfire Conversations,” 11 a.m.

Mary Kaye Knaphus is returning to Baker City to present programs July 28-29. She will give an evening concert at 6:30 p.m. July 28 and perform her “Spirit of the West” programs at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. July 29.

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