Fort Dalles Museum, in The Dalles, Oregon, is housed in the former Surgeon’s Quarters; the only remaining officer’s quarters of the 1856 Fort Dalles military complex. One of Oregon’s oldest history museums, it first opened its doors in 1905.
The glory days of Fort Dalles were brief. The Civil War removed most Federal troops, and by its close the tide of Indian warfare had moved east and south. In the 1860s the fort became mainly a stopping place for state militia. River trade became less important with the expansion of regional railroads. The beautiful officer’s houses burned one by one — they apparently suffered from faulty mortar in the chimneys — and were not replaced. Only the Surgeon’s Quarters, along with barracks and various other buildings remained. The fort became inactive in 1867. An army caretaker remained until about 1884, when the land was turned over to the city and the surviving buildings left to squatters and the elements.
A group of civic-minded pioneer women were instrumental in saving the building at the turn of the century. Through an act of Congress it became the property of the Oregon Historical Society, which authorized the ladies of the “Old Fort Dalles Historical Society” to open it as a museum in 1905. Since the early 1950s it has operated under the management of a City/County Museum Commission.
Almost all traces of the building’s military past were gone long before the museum opened, but it became a repository for city and county history. Native American artifacts, pioneer tools and housewares, Umatilla House Hotel artifacts, clothing, furniture, and many historical photographs help preserve the area’s heritage.
Another attraction is the collection of historic vehicles; both horse– and motor-powered. In the 1970s, a collection of hand-hewn log buildings, part of a Swedish emigrant community established on Pleasant Ridge south of The Dalles in the 1880s, was donated to the museum complex. The Anderson House, Barn, and Granary now offer a glimpse into life on a family farm 100 years ago.
Your admission includes the entire museum complex!