Linn County Historical Museum

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 historic 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, 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. Tickets are available at the Museum, $5.00 per adult, $1.00 per child 12 and under. Tours are scheduled on the hour every weekend.

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.

The Drinkard Wagon

The Drinkard wagon is one of the museum’s treasures…one of only 3 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 allows visitors to understand 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 Halsey in the Fall of 1865, shortly before Martha Ann gave birth.

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 peopl.
  • 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 2018

Thank you for joining us on July 23rd for a day of fun and celebration! See you next year on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

The 2018 Stand By Me Day is scheduled for Monday, July 23, a full schedule of fun events is planned for our favorite fans from Noon till 7:00 pm.  Scheduled so far:

Noon:  Walking tour, DaJoys food truck open, Blueberry Pie sales, Fresh churned Ice cream

12:30, 2:00, 3:30,  5:00 Movie showing in Box Car Theater at the Museum

1:00 – 3:00 Fan fun: videos, conversation, trivia at Hospitality Room with DJ (Legion Hall)

1:00-4:00 Hula Hoop demo & lessons, Hopscotch, Jump rope, 4 Square in Library Park, Matchbox Races in Market Square

2:00  –          Walking Tour

3:00  –          Walking Tour

4:00  –           Walking Tour

4:00 – 7:00 “Uncaged Locals” bandstand in Library Park

4:00 – 7:00  Cruise In on Park Avenue Vintage cars incl. movie cars

5:30            Costume Contest, Bandstand in Library Park

                    50/50 Raffle, Bandstand in Library Park

Noon -7:00 pm    Souvenir sales, Blueberry Pies, Tractor Churned Ice Cream, Cherry Pez Girl, Tattoos, Photo Ops, Ima Blueberry

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



Hands on History

Thank you to all who joined  us for our

1st annual

“Hands on History” event on

on Saturday, August 25, 2018


Watch here for info on next year’s event on Saturday, August 24, 2019, more of the same fun and a few new things.

Step back in time and try your hand at the crafts and activities practiced by the folks who lived here long ago, listen to stories of the pioneers, black and white, and tales of the native experience.

Between opening and noon the Crazed Weasels will be playing 1850’s music followed by an opportunity to learn some dances of the period. At 1:00 gather under the big trees for tales of Oregon history and the pioneer experience from Gordon Munro, master storyteller.  Between 1:30 and 4:00 Gwen Carr from the group Oregon Black Pioneers will be telling of the state’s black settlers from as far back as 1788!  Be sure to stop by her tent and learn of these little known stories.  At 10:30, 12:30 and 2:00 native Kalapuyan Stephanie Craig will be teaching an hour long, free basket weaving class where you will make a native style cattail and jute pouch to take home.

All day there will be wagon rides taking off from Park Avenue pulled by Tom Marquette’s impressive Belgian cross mules, much the same as the mules that pulled wagons across the Oregon Trail.  You will also encounter Sandy & Jerry Grulkey on their  velocipedes wheeling their way around Park Avenue…a rare sight to see these days.  In the museum itself you are welcome to pull on some Pioneer era clothes and take your picture in front of our authentic covered wagon.  Dave Erickson will be there to share stories of covered wagon lore, and help with your pictures.

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 and Cider pressing.  Try your hand at washing clothes with a Washboard and tub, play with pioneer toys, make yourself a Pew doll and visit a Fur trade encampment.

This activity is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage and by the Linn County Cultural Coalition, along with a generous donation from Randy Tripp.



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.