Linn County Historical Museum Now Open Winter Hours

Brownsville Historic Pioneer Museum

Looking for the Brownsville Historic Pioneer Museum? That’s our nickname. Officially, we are the Linn County Historical Museum, located in the historic town of Brownsville, Oregon.

Founded in 1962, the Museum’s exhibits are displayed in Brownsville’s original railroad depot and six Southern Pacific railroad cars. Our collections cover the lives, work, and cultures of Native People, Oregon Trail immigrants, Black and White pioneer settlers, and the early families and communities of Linn County.  You will also find exhibits on the Brownsville Mill Race (the earliest source of local industrial hydro-power), the Brownsville Woolen Mill and regional mining.  One of the boxcars is even a 29 seat theater, The Boxcar Theatre.  We also house a fairly extensive, and well used, Genealogy Section. Of particular interest is the Covered Wagon that carried the Drinkard family across the Oregon Trail  in 1865. Not to be missed is the elegant 1881 Moyer House, open for tours most weekends and by request.

Come by and see us soon!

Moyer House

The Historic 1881 Moyer House is also part of the Museum.  Located just a block and a half South of the main Museum, you can tour the house on weekends, or by prior arrangement on any day the museum is open.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic places, this beautiful example of Italianate  Architecture was built to as the home of John and Elizabeth Moyer.  The Moyers were an influential couple in Brownsville who created a beautiful home in which they could entertain in style.  The extensive painting and stenciling in every room is unique and impressive.

Lovingly restored over the years by the Linn County Museum Friends the Moyer House  is now visited by school groups, history buffs, senior groups and the general public.Between Labor Day and Memorial Day the Moyer House is open for tours every Saturday between 11:00 and 4:00, during the summer months it is also open on Sundays between 1:00 and 5:00. Admission for adults is $5.00 and children under 12 is $1.00.  Weekday tours can be arranged by calling the museum at 541-466-3390.

History of the Museum

In 1962, the Linn County Historical Society and the City of Brownsville worked together to create the Linn County Historical Museum. Under the leadership of Floyd Jenks of Tangent and others, many county residents contributed time, talent, funds and artifacts to create the new museum. Frieda and Ben Fisher of Brownsville and Elaine and Edward Poland of Shedd led the search of the back rooms, barns and attics of Linn County for relics of its past. In only a few months they and others arranged for the June opening of the original store-front museum on Spaulding Avenue in Brownsville. Over the years, the collection grew and expanded into an adjacent building and in 1984 was moved to the current facility at 101 Park Ave in Brownsville. The new facility in the old relocated Brownsville Railroad Depot and  6 Southern Pacific boxcars was dedicated on June 16, 1984. It captures the essence of early Linn County life with replicas of a general store, a bank, a barber shop and milliner’s shop among others. Visitors are charmed by the “Grandmother’s Attic” feel of the museum with it’s scenes of domestic life and Main Street ambiance. Our exhibits are rich with the artifacts, clothing and turn-of-the-century tools of the trade.

Between Labor Day and Memorial Day the Moyer House is open for tours every Saturday between 11:00 and 4:00, during the summer months it is also open on Sundays between 1:00 and 5:00. Admission for adults is $5.00 and children under 12 is $1.00.  Weekday tours can be arranged by calling the museum at 541-466-3390.

The Drinkard Wagon

The Drinkard wagon is one of the museum’s treasures…one of a very few remaining wagons still intact after making the rigorous six month journey across the Oregon Trail.  This wagon brought the Drinkard Family from Missouri to Halsey, Oregon in 1865.  Seeing this rugged wagon brings home  the reality of the immense challenges early Euro-Americans actually faced during the great Westward Migration. William Drinkard was a Confederate soldier imprisoned in Iowa when his wife Martha Ann learned he could be released on promise of leaving the war effort behind.  Martha Ann sold their home and goods, purchased and outfitted this wagon, packed up the 4 kids and left Missouri for Iowa.  Accompanied by several other family members they then headed West.  Martha Ann drove this wagon, William drove his Mother’s wagon and the children walked or rode horses.  They arrived in Oregon in the Fall of 1865,  before Martha Ann gave birth to her 5th child in February, 1866.

The Boxcar Theatre

A truly unique feature of this museum is our Boxcar Theatre.  Housed in one of our 6 boxcars, the theater is equipped with 29 seats salvaged from Brownsville’s old Linn Theatre, along with the original neon sign. The theater is available for movie watching whenever the museum is open.  We have a large selection of movies; comedy, drama, westerns, Disney, documentaries, old and new.  Of course we also have the most famous movie filmed here in Brownsville…1986’s “Stand By Me”. This is a perfect place for Birthday parties, school visits, family gatherings, rainy afternoons, or just to while away a little time. Come in and let us entertain you! Movie list coming soon.

Genealogy Research

The museum has an extensive, well organized and well used Genealogy section.  We have:

  • Linn County Cemetery Records
  • Linn County Donation Land Claim information through 1855
  • Census Records from 1849-1910
  • Marriage records 1850-1921
  • Adoption records 1876-1919
  • Obituaries
  • Over 2000 photos of people, places and things from Linn County
  • Books and files on specific Pioneer families
  • General history books of Linn County places and people.
  • WPA Writer’s Project sponsored “Haskins Pioneer Stories” in 1936-1939 resulting in a wide ranging history of local residents and their memories of pioneers and early residents, all indexed by the names of people mentioned in the stories.
  • Historic Resources Inventories covering buildings and structures indexed by original owner’s name

Our wonderful staff and volunteers are always ready to help with your research. In addition to the museum collections, the Brownsville Library also keeps local history and genealogy information, a short walk from the museum.

Stand By Me Day 2022

Due to Pandemic restrictions this year’s event was limited to an enhanced self guided walking tour, souvenir sales, 2 showings of the movie and some wandering troubadors. You can still pick up the new walking tour map at the museum and find the QR codes for two new  Apps designed to add some extra fun.

In 2022 the 36th Anniversary of the release of Stand By Me will fall on a Saturday and we are already making big plans!

Some of our traditional events that we hope to have back next year… 50’s Car Cruise In, Blueberry Pie Sales and Tractor Churned Ice Cream, Guided Walking Tours, a 50/50 raffle, games like 4 Square, Hopscotch, Jump Rope and Hula Hoop.  We will be running the movie all day in our Box Car Theatre and there will be a Fun Facts and Fan Forum…you never know who might show up…  There will be music and a Costume Contest and of course…souvenir sales! A Pie Eating Contest and a showing of the Movie in Pioneer Park are also under consideration.

Stay tuned here for new info as plans for 2022 get solidified

Join us for all the fun in Castle Rock, Oregon (Brownsville, Oregon)

Photo by Peter Campbell Thompson 2019
Photo by Peter Campbell Thompson 2019

Hands on History 2022

Hands on History 2021

has been cancelled due to the Pandemic.

Please join us next year on August  27 for the return of this

hands on experience of Oregon’s Pioneer history 


Step back in time and try your hand at the crafts and activities practiced by the folks who lived here long ago, listen to the music and stories of the pioneers; black and white, and tales of the native experience. Library Park will be filled with activities you can give a try…Wheat grinding, Beeswax Candle Making, Crosscut Sawing, Blacksmithing, Quilting, Weaving, Spinning, Bread Making, Cider Pressing and more.  Try your hand at washing clothes with a Washboard and tub, play with pioneer toys, make yourself a pioneer doll. Get your hands dirty panning for gold and watch a Kalapuya elder demonstrate flint knapping.  In 2022 we will be adding even more activities at the Moyer House for spinning, tatting, piano music and maybe an old fashioned card game, prepping Flax…stay tuned!  We may even have a native Salmon bake! This free activity is supported by a generous donation from Randy Tripp.

Carriage Me Back 2022

Carriage Me Back  2022

will take place on May 7 & 8 

Thank you to all the wonderful folks who joined us  for our last annual Carriage Me Back event in 2019 it was a great sucess!   That year we traveled  back in time to 1888 and experienced what was happening in Brownsville, Linn County, Oregon and the country back in the day.  The railroads were criss crossing the country, immigrants were flooding in, industry was expanding and Grover Cleveland was running for re-election. There were costumed re-enactments and hilarious skits all around town and in our historic Moyer House.

You will once again board a horse drawn wagon at the museum, travel around town with your host and a gaggle of local actors then be dropped off at the Moyer House where more scenes are presented.  It is history and hilarity combined for a fun day out and an important fundraiser for the Museum.

Next year, on the first weekend in May we will once again be traveling back in time , mark your calendars now and make your reservations starting in March.

Plan Your Trip

Linn County Parks offers family-friendly well-maintained parks, fishing, boating, camping, museums, and historic sites.

Find a Park

Hiking trails, waterfalls, covered bridges, and swimming areas are among the points of interest at our 30 parks.

Places to Camp

Spend a weekend in the heart of the Willamette valley at one of more than 400 campsites.