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Cottage Grove Mural Walking Tour

Published: July 29, 2021

 

The Cottage Grove mural walking tour is an easy self-guided tour you can do in one day. Ten spectacular murals adorn the sides of buildings throughout Cottage Grove's downtown historic district, telling Cottage Grove's story through early settlement, the gold rush, and then discovery by Hollywood. 

Cottage Grove is a charming town; known for its historic covered bridges, lake front bike paths, antique shopping, local theater and craft breweries.

Set aside several days to explore all of Cottage Grove and enjoy the slower paced vibe. Add in a cycling tour of the historic covered bridges, enjoy water sports on one of the town's lakes or hike to a waterfall in the foothills—Cottage Grove offers many things to do!

Here are the ten scenic murals in the historic downtown area that can be explored along with nearby dining and other points of interest:

1.    "Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly" Mural

106 S. 10th Street, east of Highway 99

Start your tour with this large and bright tribute to a very small and beautiful species in the Willamette Valley — the endangered Taylor's Checkerspot butterfly. This colorful butterfly once flitted abundantly across the Willamette Valley's grasslands but as its natural habitat was disturbed by more building and agriculture, its numbers declined. To raise awareness, Portland artist Roger Peet painted the "Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly" mural on the side of the Bohemia Food Hub building as part of a national project to highlight endangered species in communities across the U.S.

2.    "Cottage Grove Station" Mural

911 E Main St, east of Highway 99 

Also on the east side of the highway is the "Cottage Grove Station" mural. This is one of at least half a dozen Cottage Grove murals painted by Jim Evangelista, co-founder of Eugene's Reality Kitchen, a non-profit bakery centered on inclusive community working together.

Nearby is the Cottage Grove Visitor Center — a great place to start any area exploration! And there are several restaurants too, depending on the time of day you start your walk you could enjoy breakfast at Buster's Cafe or a cold craft beer at the Covered Bridge Brewing Group. Big Stuff Barbecue also serves up delicious lunchtime fixings.

3.    "Buster Keaton" Mural

819 E Main St (9th & Main St)

This "Buster Keaton" mural at the signed entrance to historic Main Street depicts scenes from the 1926 silent film "The General" which was filmed in and around Cottage Grove. Painted on the side of the former Cottage Grove Hotel where Buster Keaton stayed during the filming, the building now houses Buster's Cafe and Bottleshop, a great place to enjoy a late breakfast or early lunch. 

The "Buster Keaton" mural was painted by local artist Howard Tharpe. During his career Tharpe painted numerous signs, billboards and murals throughout Cottage Grove, Eugene and California; working for Universal Studios, Obie Media and King Retail Solution. Along with "Buster Keaton", Tharpe's work includes the Opal Whiteley mural you'll also see on this tour, and the official 1984 Olympics signs in Los Angeles. As of 2021, the mural is being restored and you may be able to view restorationists at work over the summer.

Buster Keaton in "The General"

Photo: Joni Kabana / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

4. & 5.    Historic Coca-Cola murals

7th St & Main St and 8th St & Main St

These two advertisement throw-backs were painted by an unknown artist. They set the tone for the soda fountain days, and luckily if it inspires your thirst, you can pop into nearby Buster's Bottleshop to find your favorite soft drinks.

"Drink Coca Cola" at 7th & Main St

Photo: Joni Kabana / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

"Drink Coca Cola" at 8th & Main St

Photo: Joni Kabana / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

6.    Opal Whiteley Mural

711 Main St

Another famous mural by Howard Tharpe adorns Cottage Grove's All America Park in downtown. The "Opal Whiteley mural" was a collaboration with artist Connie Huston, memorializing the significant culture and history of Cottage Grove.

Thorpe painted Opal Whiteley in the middle, the notable Cottage Grove resident in the late 1800s, considered by some a child prodigy, and by others, a fraud. Her controversial life inspired the book "The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow" by author Benjamin Hoff. Regardless, her story is touching, tragic and memorable. As a lover of nature, her connection with plants and animals is illustrated by fluttering butterflies around her. One butterfly on the mural makes a perfect selfie-backdrop if you want to stand in front of it and have wings!

Look for the historic film sign in the park for information on scenes filmed in Cottage Grove for the movie "Animal House".

Opal Whiteley Mural Collection

Photo: Joey Hamilton / EugeneCascadesCoast.org

7.    1920s Main Street mural

501 E Main St on the west wall (Main St & 5th Ave)

An authentic photo of Cottage Grove in the 1920s was used to paint this look back in time. The "1920s Main Street" mural showcases the same street and buildings with the nuances of a bygone era. Once again artist Connie Huston creates a lasting legacy.

1920s Main Street Cottage Grove

Photo: Eugene, Cascades & Coast

8.    Catherine Filmer Park

600 block of Main St

This sweet, sprawling mural depicts a pleasant park scene painted by the Art Guild in Cottage Grove.

9.    Centennial Covered Bridge Mural

401 E Main St (look up from the parking lot)

Muralist Jim Evangelista memorialized the Centennial Covered Bridge — an important symbol to the community known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the West" — in this beautiful bridge painting. The Centennial Covered Bridge itself was built in 1987 to mark Cottage Grove's 100th birthday. Designed as a pedestrian walkway, Centennial Covered Bridge is right in town and you can visit it along this walking tour before going on to the final mural. The bridge's construction utilized reclaimed lumber from two other regional covered bridges that had been demolished, giving those historic timbers a second life.  

10.    Fourth of July Parade Scene Mural

119 S 6th St (south wall of the Flower Basket gift store)

Like many small towns, Cottage Grove enjoys its patriotic displays, and here this is memorialized as an Independence Day parade, another great mural by Howard Tharpe. 

From here, Coast Fork Brewing is just around the corner, so rest your feet while enjoying a cold craft beer paired with their delicious chicken pot pies or a pastry.

See More Murals

You can also do a more extensive driving or cycling tour of almost twenty Cottage Grove murals city-wide.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.