Historical society program to be held Feb. 20

by Karen Nitz

for the Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County keepsake pin. (Submitted photo)

The Harney County keepsake pin. (Submitted photo)

Imagine for a moment that you are standing in the middle of a wide, dusty street, haphazardly lined with a dozen or so wooden buildings, sagebrush and rocks. Loaded freight wagons lumber past in clouds of dust. Thirsty cowboys linger on the wooden porches of the post office and saloon while awaiting the next cattle drive. A scene in Burns much like this greeted the early settlers 125 years ago at the time that Harney County was born.

In celebration of the anniversary of the creation of our county in 1889, on Thursday, Feb. 20, the Harney County Historical Society (HCHS) will be taking a lighthearted look back at the battle for the county seat at its February gathering. A battle of words was waged over the merits of cities that were, cities that weren’t, and cities that might have been. Did you know that our county seat could have been located at Bird’s Nest or Silvies City? Following the lively debate, the second part of the Oregon Trail documentary that was shown last month will be continued, due to popular demand.

The program will take place at noon at the Burns Elks Lodge on Thursday, Feb. 20. It is free and open to the public. You do not need to be a historical society member to attend, but membership forms will be available if you wish to join. An optional $6 lunch will be served beginning at 11:30 a.m., and the program will follow at noon.

In commemoration of this special anniversary of the county, everyone who attends the gathering this month will receive a specially designed Harney County Historical Museum keepsake pin, featuring local iconic images of a homestead and windmill, backed by Steens Mountain, and framed by sagebrush. The historical society will also be giving away two individual yearly memberships to be drawn at random from all who attend. The winners may choose to keep the memberships for themselves or give them away as gift memberships

This month will also kick off a fundraising drawing for “A Window in Time,” a beautiful hand-made quilt, crafted by Linda Beck, featuring pioneer scenes and warm earth-tone colors. The quilt will be on display at this month’s historical society gathering. Tickets will be available for $1 each or 6 for $5 at the Harney County Chamber of Commerce, The Western History Room at the Harney County Library, from HCHS board members, and at the monthly gatherings on the third Thursday of each month. The drawing will be held during Pioneer Days weekend in June.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the official anniversary of the county, the Harney County Historical Museum will be holding a special pre-season open house with free admission to all from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have not visited the museum in a while, or if you have not visited at all, take advantage of this opportunity to browse through the exhibits and old photographs. Later, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., during the special open house the same evening at the Harney County Courthouse, the historical society will feature a display of local historical publications which will be available for purchase.

In preparation for the open house at the museum, volunteers are needed on Saturday, Feb. 22, for a general work day. If you are interested in helping, please contact the museum at 541-573-5618. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization and we are always looking for people who are willing to contribute as little as one afternoon a month to help us keep the doors open. Whatever your interests and talents, we need you! No previous experience or special knowledge is required — just an interest and some enthusiasm. Do you like to greet visitors, plan and arrange displays; perform living history, tinker with antiques, and putter with landscaping? There is something that everyone can do. If you would like more details about how you can help, email harneymuseum@centurytel.net or westernroom@harneycountylibrary.org. Our new website is up and running at  www.hchistoricalsociety.com. Give it a look and let us know what you would like to see on it. You can also find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarneyCountyHistoricalMuseum.



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