The Iron Workers Museum
Admission to the museum is free!
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the need for social distancing, the Iron Workers Museum will be closed until further notice.
The museum is housed in Lake Oswego’s oldest house that is open to the public! It’s located at 40 Wilbur Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034 in the Old Town Neighborhood. Museum hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays and the first Saturday of every month from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm unless one of these regularly scheduled days falls on a holiday. It is also open by appointment for school classes and other group tours.
About the Building
The 1880s cottage is the last remaining, intact residence from Lake Oswego’s iron era and the last iron company worker’s cottage remaining west of the Rockies. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and the City of Lake Oswego’s Landmark Designation List. It is one of seven sites on the Oswego Iron Heritage Trail.
The cottage was built using box construction, a technique used primarily for temporary buildings. There are no studs—planks were nailed to header and footer boards and the structure rests on piers. Inside the front door, a section of the wall has been left visible so visitors can view the construction of interior walls.
The Society leases the building from the City of Lake Oswego. We don’t receive any funds from the City to operate this facility.
1867–2017 Oregon’s Iron Jubilee: Celebrating the First Iron Furnace on the Pacific Coast
The museum’s permanent exhibit entitled 1867–2017 Oregon’s Iron Jubilee: Celebrating the First Iron Furnace on the Pacific Coast was curated by historian Susanna Kuo and designed by Corinna Campbell-Sack.
Displays include City-owned artifacts, which have never before been on public display, as well as items from the Society’s collection.
The museum also hosts special exhibits and events.
Visit the Museum
40 Wilbur Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Open Tuesday & Thursday, plus the First Saturday of Every Month.
Hours: 1:00–4:00 pm and by appointment
The museum is ADA accessible. Three parking places, including one ADA space, along with bicycle parking, are accessible from the alley behind (south) of the museum.
The nearest TriMet bus stops are South State and Wilbur Streets (northbound) and South State Street and Middlecrest Road (southbound).
Please let us know if you are interested in becoming a volunteer docent: 503-481-2479. By volunteering at the History Center & Museum, you’ll not only help your fellow residents and visitors learn more about Lake Oswego’s rich and unique history, your service will also strengthen and promote community involvement.
About our Donors
We are very grateful to our generous History Hero donors who each contributed $1,000 or more to the museum fundraising campaign. A permanent plaque prominently displayed in the museum honors these donors.
John & Diane Bradshaw
Stephen & Nancy Dudley
Gerald Morgan in memory of Phil & Peg Morgan
Nancy, Susan, & Mary Jane Headlee
Leon Drennan in memory of Leon Bullier, Consuelo Bullier, & Margot B. Dewart
Aase Maja Besson
Francine & Joe Smith
Erin O’Rourke-Meadors & Gregory Meadors in memory of Florenceann O’Rourke
Bonnie Allen & Quinn Walsdorf
Kasey & Steve Holwerda
Frank Kuo in memory of C. Herald & Virginia Campbell
J. J. Walsdorf in honor of Emily & Alison Walsdorf
It’s never too late to support the museum by becoming a History Hero. No capes required!
Three Rooms in Old Oswego
by Kim Stafford
This hometown was a mining town, frontier capital of industry, a backwater realm of sweat and clanking steel, where in forest mounds of charcoal great old trees smoked into fuel for smeltering stones dug deep from Iron Mountain.
- There was that lamplit cave in the warren of tunnels that dragged men into the dark to scrabble ore that strained their tendons carrying buckets of dead weight toward light to be dumped into battered skips for their journey to the furnace.
- Then the white heat of the furnace tower of basalt, a monument with a mouth that gobbled ore to melt rock into slag and iron flowed channels of sand to cool as pigs snapped loose and stacked for travel—north to Seattle for water pipe, south to structure Frisco’s City Hall.
- But at last this room, the worker’s curtain could be pulled aside by a hand with its glove of soot—a pitcher of rain, a bowl for becoming human, clean, and then a bed for dreams of hell in the mountain, inferno in the tower, a folded letter from home carried in the pocket of the coat here hung from a peg on the wall.
This wall, that stone tower, that tunnel into the mountain all forged our ancestors. And when the tunnels collapsed, the furnace fire
went cold, and the workers’ cottages one by one came down, we were left with stories filled with frenzied beauty, heroes without names, picks prying, fires roaring, and the dreams of workers here, always the humming of dreams.