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Saving the Stories that Teach Us Where We’ve Come From

Published: April 12, 2018

When our youngest child went off to college in 2004, my wife and I decided it was time to move from the neighborhood we’d lived in for 21 years. A clean slate lay before us and we logged a fair number of miles looking at neighborhoods with Eugene - Springfield and many surrounding communities. Being the second offer on a Santa Clara neighborhood house created anxious moments and when the first offer was accepted we were again on the hunt for a new place to call home.

That home, for eight years, became Junction City.  Nestled in a neighborhood in the northwest part of town, my wife and I fell in love with our neighbors and the community. It was tough to beat walking to the heart of downtown in 15 minutes, having access to DMV, a post office, grocery shopping, restaurants/cafes and fun community events.  

Junction City Oregon by Linda Van OrdenOur short stint in Junction City pales in comparison to Linda Van Orden’s 70 plus years in the community. At a TriCounty Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Linda presented her recently released book, “Junction City, Oregon, Memories of the 20th Century.

In her unassuming way she exudes a passion for maintaining the history of this community, its families and businesses. Her self-deprecating “I’m not a writer,” was said more than once and I suspect she underestimates her ability and is simply being modest. I was impressed by the emphasis Linda placed on having contributors “speak in their own voice,” which meant editing for grammar rather than style. This gives the stories an authenticity that is refreshing. Being a compilation of short stories and photos collected from contributors far and wide, this book gives readers the option of reading it from beginning to end or simply gravitating to stories that peak their interest.  

From the book: “Dad had a great run to the ripe age of 87.  He was born in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. Early lessons of being thrifty and enjoying what you have helped steer his humble success.” -- Shannon Nill, Guaranty RV

Linda shares "It is very important to remember that if Ben Holladay had not decided to build the switching point for his Oregon & California Railroad at this location there would be no town of Junction City. Junction City was a “town of the railroad” for thirty years before A.C. Nielsen found this to be the place he wanted to establish a Danish colony... In 1902 Mr. Nielsen arrived in Lane County looking for a 5,000 to 10,000 acre tract. He could not find such a large tract. A real estate agent from Eugene took him to visit the farm of Gideon Millett between Junction City and the river. There he agreed to purchase 1,600 acres for $50,000. Mr. Nielsen advertised in Danish language newspapers in Iowa and Minnesota, and by spring there was enough interest to form a colony.” 

The self-financed book was a “labor of love” that will undoubtedly enrich the lives of youth who wish to understand the roots of the place they live and for the rest of us provides a glimpse into a “railroad town” that for many of us is seen as the place we come once a year for glimpse into the Scandinavian culture that is celebrated with aebelskivers, meat pies and traditional dances.

I picked up my copy of the book at the Guaranty RV Super Center store on Highway 99, but it is also available at Camas Country Bakery, Primtiques or online through Amazon.com.

Author: Andy Vobora

Andy Vobora works as Travel Lane County's Vice President of Stakeholder Relations. Andy has lived over 40 years in Lane County, and is a UO graduate and former football player. When he is not at work Andy enjoys drift fishing the rivers, cycling in the foothills and wine country and officiating high school football each fall. In spring, his passion for track and field has led to 29 years of officiating/volunteering at Hayward Field. 

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