Friday, January 1, 2010

Culture: Visiting Pendleton, Oregon

Main Street in historic downtown Pendleton, Oregon was observed on 29-December-2009

KENNEWICK, WASHINGTON - As a non-gambler, I have to find something else to do when accompanying people to the Wildhorse Casino of the "Confederated Tribes" (Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla) east of Pendleton, Oregon. In the past, I've experienced the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, an impressive history museum located not far from the casino, but this time I decided to see what the town of Pendleton had to offer.

The one-time Carnegie Library in Pendleton, Oregon now serves as the Pendleton Center for the Arts, observed on 29-December-2009

Best-known for the Pendleton Round-Up held each September, I wasn't certain what the town would have to offer the rest of the year. As it turned out, I probably was there the worst week of the year, as most of the town's museums were closed between Christmas and New Year's, including an extensive museum of the Umatilla County Historical Society in the former Union Pacific depot and the prohibition-era Underground Tour. Even the famous Pendleton Woolen Mills facility didn't have its factory tours this week. So, there will be plenty to do on a return visit.

Hamley's has been in the same location in Pendleton, Oregon since 1905--and continued to hand-make saddles on 29-December-2009

That doesn't mean that I was at all bored. Hamley and Company may no longer be owned by the original Hamley family, but the business continues in the same 1901 building where it has been located since 1905. Most significantly, the company continues to hand-craft saddles in a room accessible to the public off the sales floor.

What might be best described as a confused mammal was found along Main Street in Pendleton, Oregon on 29-December-2009

There was little question that I was in a small town, as a plate of cookies was just sitting out at Hamley's for anyone to eat, people said "hello" on the street even in the freezing weather, and people around town were mentioned by first name at the Tourist Information Center. There were some things that were more likely to be found in larger places, though, like the street art shown above, and I think the holiday store windows I found, foremost at Calico Country on Main Street including the one shown below, were better than those in many of the big cities that I have visited this season.

One of the best holiday store windows I saw the entire holiday season was located at Calico Country in Pendleton, Oregon on 29-December-2009

Pendleton was once a significant stop on the Oregon Trail, and it remains an interesting stop along I-84 to this day, worth a visit even when the Round-Up isn't going on.

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