The Fort Dalles Museum/Anderson Homestead Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) not for profit Oregon corporation, was established to assist Wasco County, City of The Dalles, and the Fort Dalles Museum/Anderson Homestead Commission in preserving and advancing this premier historical museum (the oldest continuously operating museum in Oregon) and protecting and conserving its many valuable historic assets.  The museum is owned by Wasco County.   We have been in direct communication with the City of The Dalles, Planning Department and have gone through the “Preliminary Site Team Application” process.  We are now submitting a Conditional Use Permit Application so we can establish a viable project that we can raise funds for.

The foundation’s immediate goal is to raise funds to construct and maintain a vehicle storage, public display, and conservation building (see attachment).

Project Description

The Fort Dalles Museum owns a large and significant collection of historic horse drawn vehicles built between 1870 and 1919. These are currently housed in three old, rough buildings – a barn, Quonset hut and lean-to – all of which are unsealed from the weather. These conditions place the collection at risk from insects, birds, small animals, vandalism and theft and have resulted in the vehicles deteriorating over time. This arrangement also prevents the proper display of the collection for public education and enjoyment.

This project will construct a single fully-sealed building to protect, preserve and display the vehicles and other portions of the museum collection. The building has been designed to resemble the historic buildings on the property and will be fully ADA accessible. The attic portion of the building is designed to organize, prepare for display, digitally preserve, and store small historical items that will be available to the public on a rotational basis.

This project relates to surface transportation through preservation of historic horse drawn vehicles previously used in Wasco County for road building and other activities such as mail, cargo and stage coaches.  Site development activities include storm sewer extension, on-site parking (including one ADA van accessible space), possible paving of the alley for lower level access, mandatory half street paving along the length of the museum expansion on 17th Street, all underground utilities and mandatory landscaping. The property where the building will be constructed is currently owned by Dennis and Mary Davis, who have agreed to hold the property in trust for the purpose of the museum expansion.

Purpose and Need

Without a fully-enclosed building, the vehicles will continue to degrade and lose historic value. In 2009, the Fort Dalles Museum Board of Directors brought in Gary Manning, an Oregon expert in the restoration of horse drawn vehicles and antique automobiles and equipment, to assess the condition of the vehicles and develop suggestions for their long-term preservation. He observed that many of the surface finishes have deteriorated to the point that accelerated degradation of the structures can be expected. Although the Board was interested in restoration and conservation measures, he recommended that investing time and money in these efforts would not be effective without a more protected housing environment to store the vehicles.

The three buildings currently housing the vehicles have themselves deteriorated enough that restoration of the buildings is not an option. Furthermore, these buildings do not allow for the proper display of the collection and are not characteristic of the historic buildings on the property. The full cost of constructing a new building is beyond the current financial capabilities of Wasco County.  The Fort Dalles Museum-Anderson Homestead Foundation has applied for $1,294,443 ODOT-Transportation Enhancement funds and we are one of 31 finalists vying for a total of $17,000,000 of available funding.  Final project selection and approval by OTC will take place on May 18, 2011.

This project will benefit all of the public through preservation and display of Oregon’s transportation history.  The new building will enhance tourism opportunities and support economic development efforts to promote The Dalles and Wasco County as an important destination for historical tourism.


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