Fort Rock Homestead Museum

The Fort Rock Homestead Museum

The Fort Rock Valley Historical Society’s Homestead Museum opened in 1988 with a goal of preserving some of the few historic buildings remaining in Central Oregon’s remote Fort Rock Basin. The Homestead is a collection of original homestead era (early 1900s) buildings including a church, school, houses, homestead cabins, and several other buildings moved from nearby locations and assembled in a village setting. The area’s extreme weather and the museum’s limited resources make ongoing maintenance a challenge, and several structures are in immediate need of repair. 

News and Updates:

Summer 2016

Restore Oregon staff visit with local partners of the Fort Rock Homestead Museum

November 13, 2015

Listed as one of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places

Historic Significance

During the early 1900s, hundreds of families flocked to Oregon’s Great Basin to “prove up” 320-acre parcels of land which was promoted by the Federal government as suitable for dry farming. Many communities sprang up in the Fort Rock Valley, an ancient lake basin, as a period of unusually heavy rain made long-term agricultural productivity seem likely. But the rain did not last, and neither did the people.  They left, and the government repossessed much of the land for leased grazing use.

Interest in the lives of the homesteaders proved strong, however, and in 1984 a group of eight formed the Fort Rock Valley Historical Society, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring and preserving the history of these people. Land was acquired, and remaining homestead buildings brought together on one site.

Today, the museum consists of a visitor’s center, and eleven homestead buildings, each a museum in itself. There are residences, a church, a school, a post office, blacksmith, trapper, general store, a garden partly consisting of plants also brought from homesteads, and, yes, a three-hole outhouse.

Why it’s Endangered

Through grants and hard work by volunteers, the integrity of the buildings and their contents has been largely maintained. However, UV radiation, extremes of hot and cold weather, packrats, mice, and birds, are taking a toll on the buildings. Several buildings have compromised structural integrity, which must be addressed to ensure long-term preservation.

On some structures the siding is so warped that birds have begun nesting in the walls, sometimes becoming trapped within the buildings. Paint inside and outside the buildings is peeling to bare wood, logs of cabins need preservation, and many windows are loose and falling out due to aging of the wood and shrinkage of frames. Volunteers in recent years have not been able to keep up with the effects of the environment and investment in weatherization and repair of degraded materials is needed to ensure the continued viability of these structures.

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3 Responses to Fort Rock Homestead Museum

  1. Gary Gregor November 15, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Hey folks, the address for this page includes %20, which means the person clicking will go to a “Page not found” notice.

    • Denise Bartelt November 16, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks Gary – too many moving parts for four people. Sorry you missed the event!


  1. Restore Oregon Endangered Places 2016, Painting the First Set | D.Katie Powell Art - December 7, 2015

    […] The following locations are shown in this set: the Rivoli Theater; the Jantzen Beach Carousel; the Wong Laundry Building; the Chateau at the Oregon Caves NM; and the Fort Rock Homestead Museum. […]

Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation