Hometown Proud: Some unique Oregon history in the town of Umatilla

UMATILLA, OR - For this week's segment of Hometown Proud, we got a one-stop-shop history lesson for Umatilla's past.

The Umatilla Historical Museum provides a look at everything that has happened in and around the Oregon border town. Right along 6th Street in Umatilla, you can step inside a storefront to another time.

Larry Nelson is the manager of the Umatilla Historical Museum, a place where you can step out of the 21st century and into Umatilla's past: early interactions with local Native Americans, Columbia River ferries, the building of the McNary Dam, and more.

Nelson showed reporter Rex Carlin the section of the museum dedicated to the Petticoat Revolution of 1916, when just four years after women received the right to vote, females took all four city council seats, recorder, and treasurer.

And in the most important race in the city's election, the incumbent mayor lost in a landslide vote to his wife.

"Because they now had the right to vote in 1916," Nelson said. "And they won."

During the museum tour, Nelson told Rex about what the area was like in the late 40s and early 50s, when the population of Umatilla more than doubled.

"The city served the purpose of getting the dam built," explained Nelson.

One of the coolest parts of the tour was going into the back room of the museum, formerly the city jail.

"I have toured people in here that have actually been in here, locked in," said Nelson.

But what about present-day Umatilla? Nelson says he hopes some of the city's vacant storefronts can be filled to help revitalize the city.

"Trying to get those things filled. Let's get some businesses in here," Nelson said. "The larger businesses."

When Rex asked Nelson why he and his wife chose Umatilla, his answer was simple.

"Weather's nice, the people are friendly, the opportunities are great...why not?"

The museum is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., so come on by and Nelson can give you a tour.

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