Horse plaza informational panels provide history, details of community, region

Looking over the new informational panels that had just been installed in the horse plaza at Skirvin Park in Philomath, 83-year-old Marlyn Weaver can share a story behind most of the images on display.

On a section about Hull-Oakes Lumber Co., Weaver provides details on the 110-foot, 28-by-30-inch long timber that came down in the historic windstorm of 1962.

“That’s their whole timber crew and their mail crew on this 110-foot timber that came out of a tree that fell during the Columbus Day storm. The tree was probably 250, 300 feet tall, who knows, but it had to be pretty tall … They made the world’s longest loveseat and they shipped it way back to Memphis.”

On another panel, he points to an old black-and-white photo that shows two trains.

“This is just about a mile west of the ‘Y’ or a little less in the little community of Noon out there, but there’s two trains here and the one in the distance is the one that goes to Toledo and this near train is the one that went up the side of Marys Peak as a logging train and they had a mill here.”

Later, Weaver picks out a photo that appears as part of a collection on fishing and recreation.

“These twins here are the fifth generation of the Ray and Sarah Davis family, who essentially was one of the first people out of the Blodgett area. We thought it was nice, we could get a fifth generation family in there.”

It’s those photos of multi-generation families, loggers, volunteers and others who have been a part of the community through the decades that excites Weaver the most when he talks about the history-filled display boards, which are situated near the horseshoe sculpture of a rearing horse in Skirvin Park along South 13th Street.

“Almost all of the pictures that have people in them have names that most people recognize if they’ve lived here very long,” Weaver said. “I think a lot of the people that have been here a long time and have extended families here a long time are probably going to appreciate it more than anybody else.”

Added Debbie Weaver, his wife and project contributor, “I think that’s one of the things that I hope will mean something to the younger generations because they’re going to see their parents and their grandparents and their great grandparents in some of those pictures.”

Horse plaza display boards
The display boards are located near the horse sculpture in an area along South 13th Street. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Volunteers covered the cost of the project through labor, donations and in-kind services.

“People would volunteer for doing certain things or if there was something to be paid for, they would volunteer to pay for it as it came up,” Debbie Weaver said. “It’s all volunteer.”

A group called Friends of Skirvin Park served as the organizational force behind the effort.

“I think it started out with five people and we’re up to 101 now,” Debbie Weaver said. “They came forward, they wanted to be a part of it. A lot of them are just people that spread mulch for us or they did something with the pavers or cut the grass … It was just all volunteers and that’s the good part.”

The installation occurred on May 18 after the Weavers received word that the sealant job had been completed.

“We were very pleased because you worry about the color when you put a sealant over it and it’s absolutely perfect,” Debbie Weaver said.

Marlyn Weaver said Jeff Lamb of Commercial Coatings did the sealant work on the panels. Lamb also helped with providing photos of the 1990s construction of the local library, one of the largest volunteer efforts ever seen in the community.

“The whole idea of volunteerism is what was trying to be conveyed in some of this because Philomath is known as a volunteer community,” Debbie Weaver said. “That’s why we wanted to keep all of this as all volunteers, too. It’s just like the library — all of the volunteers that came together.”

One of the display boards is missing a panel, which could not be finished in time for the installation. It will include additional information related to the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo and will also list people and organizations that worked on the project.

“There’s just always something that takes more time than you think it will,” Marlyn Weaver said.

The display boards detail several facets of the history of Philomath and the surrounding area. Debbie Weaver hopes local students will be exposed to the Philomath history found within the displays.

For Marlyn Weaver, he finds the informational boards provide a sort of personal flashback to his life in this area.

“When we lived out at Blodgett, we were afraid Japan was going to invade our coastline at that time and we had blackouts,” Weaver remembered. “We had to cover our windows at night and Adair was the second largest city in Oregon, so there were huge convoys and all the little kids were down on the side of the highway watching those long convoys heading to the coast and waving at every vehicle.”

Weaver paused for a moment, and added, “If you’ve lived all that you look at it differently than if you haven’t. … To me, it’s kind of like living my life all over again, you might say, simply because I’ve lived all of those things and I know most of these people.”


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