Artifacts make Favell Museum a must-see

My Spokane friends Rich and Rita recently visited our area and decided to stay a few days at the Running Y Ranch near Klamath Falls.They invited me to join them for a pleasant Saturday afternoon, and at first, I thought, "Great! I could use a little R&R."

Then I paused, recalling my last trip to pelican country, when I took the cats on vacation and regretted my decision.

If you go

WHAT: Favell Museum, with Native American and Western artifacts, and Western art.

WHERE: 125 W. Main St., in Klamath Falls.

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

ADMISSION: Normally $10, but presently free through July 12 because of a special exhibit, "The Art of Survival — Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake," which focuses on the Japanese-American experience at the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II.


But it is a short jaunt to get there — just over an hour's drive, the Running Y is a beautiful, beckoning facility, and I was resolved to ignore the yowling no matter how much the boys begged to ride along.

The journey was pleasant enough despite the fact that my timing was poor, and I had to grab lunch at the only market still open along that stretch of Highway 140. It consisted of so-called ham and a square of American cheese on the whitest white-bread roll ever to slide off the conveyor belt.

A side of Fritos provided the fiber.

Meanwhile, Rich and Rita, good planners that they are, picked up brochures from the visitor's center — one of them for the Favell Museum, which specializes in Native American and Western artifacts. I'd never heard of it, but I was along for the ride and feeling reckless.

Following our trip through the exhibits, my first thought after picking my jaw off the floor was, how in the wide world of George Armstrong Custer could I have lived in the Rogue Valley for more than 30 years and never heard of this incredible place?

The humble, 1970s building houses the most comprehensive collection of rare and beautifully displayed artifacts I've seen. Highlights among the treasures are a world-famous fire opal arrowhead, an original Charles M. Russell painting, "The Scout," a miniature firearms collection including everything from Gatling guns to inch-long Colt 45s, and an impressive lineup of six, life-sized, bronze busts of Indian chiefs.

Eugene Favell lived a life of high desert exploration, thanks to adventurous parents. As a boy, Favell rode the running board of his folks' rig as they scoured the wilderness of southeast Oregon in search of Native American artifacts and other treasures of the Old West. For more than 30 years, this was Gene's avocation.

When the Favell home could no longer contain his collection, the museum was built in 1972 to share the love. Its mission statement reads, "The Favell Museum is dedicated to the enhancement and the understanding of the history of the West, preservation of Native American artifacts and culture, and exhibits of notable and contemporary Western art." And it shows.

Now through July 12 there's added incentive to make the short drive and check out the offerings. Until then, admission is free (normally it's $10 per adult) because of a special exhibit in addition to the ones described. The Department of the Interior and others have funded a special offering entitled "The Art of Survival — Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake."

The traveling exhibit depicts the situation facing Japanese-Americans detained at the facility in Newell, Calif., near Tule Lake during WWII.

They present a written account, including oral histories, along with the fine art photography of Hiroshi Watanabe and skillfully created works fashioned from seemingly insignificant materials, such as pipe cleaner dolls and flowers made by the residents. It is a beautiful and thought-provoking experience.

To learn more, see The museum is located at 125 W. Main St., in Klamath Falls. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

With an upcoming lecture series combining art and Old West history, and the top-tier Favell Museum Invitational Art Show and Sale this fall (reception Sept. 27-28), I plan to make more than one return trip.

Who knew we had such a treasure so near?

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at

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