The Fort Rock Heritage Museum in Central Oregon reminds me of similar historical displays in Texas. One that I am acquainted with is the Buffalo Gap Village, south of Abilene. So similar are they that the universality of early settlement spans from coast to coast. Similarities in building construction, decorative accoutrement, hardware, furniture, even floor plans. Americana ranges far and wide across this nation, then and now, when modern houses seem to be cookie stamped on mirrored subdivided lots.
Despite the repetition, many little personal and individual touches were scattered in the Fort Rock museum. Even the outhouse (which is lacking in the Buffalo Gap Village; outhouses are apparently omitted from Texas history). The main focal interest here is the setting. Many of these buildings once had residents from various parts of the country who came looking for a new life in the ‘promise land.’ Publicized and touted as prime farm and range country, families bought land and built lives here, if only for a short time. They fled when their crops dried and cattle died. It was a hard life; when they had enough, they left and tried elsewhere.
Many of the buildings were moved here, renovated, and stabilized, placed in some semblance of a thriving community of ghosts that can’t leave the past behind. Instead, we’ve all left them behind, coming to visit and see how easy we have it now since grandchildren of their grandchildren. And, after we’re done browsing amonst their lives, we leave and continue on with our own. Some remembering, others never really knowing.