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Butte Falls plans weekend history celebration

The Old Medco Caboose is one of four heritage sites to visit during a Butte Falls history celebration this weekend. Mail Tribune/File photo
Free events planned Friday and Saturday

Nestled in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest with closeup views of Mount McLoughlin, the town of Butte Falls is celebrating its history with free events Friday and Saturday.

The weekend kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday with a movie night and popcorn at the Ernest W. Smith House and Bill Edmondson Memorial Museum, 432 E. Pine St. Watch a video of locals recounting what it was like growing up in Butte Falls and the surrounding area. Their tales were collected as part of the “Stories of Southern Oregon” oral history project.

From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, the museum will be part of a tour of four heritage sites.

The Big Butte Historical Society established the museum in the early 1990s as a tribute to two significant locals. Smith was an inventor, photographer and surveyor. Edmondson, whose family owned and operated the Butte Creek Mill, was a prolific wood carver. See examples of their work in a 1950s vintage cottage along with historical exhibits, gardens and more.

Another attraction on the heritage tour, the Old Medco Caboose dates to the late 1890s. The caboose is open to the public thanks to the work of Butte Falls teacher Cy Carrigan’s history students and the Southern Oregon Railway Historical Society.

Climb into the cupola, play with a Thomas the Train Engine set and see moving images and old postcards. Students will be on hand to tell about the train, local logging history and their experiences learning about history and reopening the museum.

The caboose is next to the Butte Falls library at 626 Fir Ave.

About a mile east of Butte Falls at 580 Fish Lake Road, visit a fish hatchery built in 1915 that now serves as the Natural Resource Center outdoor learning lab for Butte Falls Charter School students. Phil Long, superintendent of Butte Falls schools, will give tours at the top of each hour.

The fourth heritage site is the Butte Falls Pioneer Cemetery, located two miles west of town off Butte Falls Highway on North Obenchain Road.

Charles Arnold was the first person laid to rest there in 1868, and since then many Butte Falls families have called the cemetery their own. Michael Smeltz, manager of the Butte Falls Community Forest, will be on hand all afternoon to show visitors around one of the best maintained and most visited cemeteries in Southern Oregon.

People who visit all four heritage sites will win prizes. Pick up a Heritage Hop entry card at any of the four locations. Turn in your stamped card at the Sugar Pine Company Cafe, 342 Broad St., by 4 p.m. Saturday to collect a prize.

This year, the town of Butte Falls bought 430 forested acres from the Weyerhaeuser timber company to create a managed forest buffer around the town.

Organizers of the heritage weekend said the scars of the 2020 South Obenchain fire are a stark reminder of why a buffer is necessary. Townspeople plan to manage the forest for fire prevention, sustainability, recreation and education.

Butte Falls Heritage Day is made possible in part by a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission to the Big Butte Historical Society with the support of Southern Oregon University.