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Historian sleuths out public library's origins

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Historian Kathryn Hurd measures off the volumes on Estacada history in the library. With little documentation on Estacada's history to be found, Hurd has had to rely heavily on oral remembrances of the past to piece together what the Estacada area was like in times past. Hurd will give a talk on the history of the Estacada Public Library at the library centennial celebration on Saturday, Sept. 7.Local historian Kathryn Hurd stepped into the library the minute it opened on Thursday, Aug. 22, to discuss her research with Estacada News.

No sooner has she crossed the threshold when Michele Kinnamon, director of the Estacada Public Library exclaimed that she was just about to call her. She’d “found something new.”

That “something new” turned out to be an ordinance from 1960 establishing the library as a city library.

This is exciting because there is a large gap in documented history about the Estacada Public Library from 1925 through about 1991.

Hurd is preparing to give a talk about the history of the library in Estacada during its centennial celebration on Saturday, Sept. 7.

But Hurd has had to work hard to piece together a history.

“There are gaps in all history about Estacada,” she said.

From her research, and she’s done a lot, she’s found very few published books on Estacada’s history.

Last year Arcadia Publishing released Hurd’s “Estacada” book as part of its Images of America series.

Hurd said that she felt envious when looking at the author’s acknowledgements in the Lake Oswego volume of the series.

The images in that book came from Lake Oswego Public Library. From the author’s acknowledgments, Hurd surmised that the Lake Oswego’s historical information had been largely centralized to that city’s library and historical society, the Oswego Heritage Council.

Hurd’s experience gathering information for the Estacada volume was very different.

She had to rely heavily on oral histories of Estacada and interviewed more than 200 people for the project.

Documentation was not easy to come by.

That’s what’s hard about researching times past in Estacada.

That’s also what’s fun about it.

Hurd likened her research to a jigsaw puzzle.

“That’s what I find exciting about research; when you find a little thing and can say, ‘Aha!’” she said.

She gave the example of discovering that Still Creek’s name had nothing to do with the calmness of its waters. “Still” was a local family’s last name.

Hurd has been hard at work preparing her presentation for the Estacada Public Library’s centennial celebration.

Not surprisingly, “As far as information on the library, there isn’t a whole lot.”

She explained that it takes about 15 minutes to glance through the library’s box of archived items from its history.

Again, she’s been relying heavily on oral histories of people’s memories of the library and their parents’ memories of it.

But she has found out a thing or two.

You’ll have to come to her speech at the library’s centennial celebration to hear of how a group of women got together to form the library in 1913 and why they did so.

But Hurd was willing to share a few details about what was going on at the time in Estacada.

“At that time it was what was considered a ‘bawdy’ town,” she said.

She’s come across comments along the lines of “there are more saloons than there are churches.”

She’s discovered accounts of brawls breaking out amid an infamous triangle of saloons near where the Safari Club building is now.

In 1913, two years after the completion of the River Mill Dam, Estacada’s population was smaller than it is now; but they were much more closely knit.

Hurd explained that people settled around where City Hall is now. And there were more businesses back then.

“It was a very prosperous time in Estacada,” she explained.

Around the time the library came into being, Estacada was getting phone lines, lighting and streets with “nice timber sidewalks.”

Hurd has uncovered enough information to give one a sense of life in Estacada 100 years ago.

But that’s all we’re giving away for now.

To learn more:

To learn more about the start of the library 100 years ago, and what Estacada was like back then come to the Estacada Library for its centennial celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 7 in the library’s Flora Room.

Everyone is invited.

Enjoy a library history exhibit while enjoying live music by the Upriver Dulcimers at 11a.m.

At noon, Oregon State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen will give a talk, Hurd will discuss the Estacada Public Library’s origins and what Estacada was like at the time and author Stevan Allred will read an original piece on his personal experience with libraries.

Guests are invited to enjoy coffee, lemonade and gourmet cake at 1 p.m.

The library will hold an open house from 2-4 p.m. with a trivia hunt and raffle prizes and the opportunity to have your name commemorated in the Skip-A-Week Quilt Club’s library centennial quilt.

Can you fill in the gaps?

If you have any information on the history of the Estacada Public Library please get in touch with Kinnamon by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or dropping by the library.



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