Oakland, Oregon: The town that time forgot, but we hope that people don’t forget. One hundred years ago Oakland was the center of commerce at the end of the rail line. Everyone came to Oakland to ship their wool, hay, turkeys and timber to bigger markets. Other local cities have long since surpassed Oakland in size and commercial activity, and the train no longer stops in Oakland. But that doesn’t mean Oakland is a ghost town. In 1968 the downtown historic district was the first city to be placed on the state’s historic register, and then in 1979 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic buildings are preserved but have modern uses and the town is alive and well in 2019.
Oakland celebrates its heritage with festivals, events and engaging shops. Next up is the First Annual Oakland Brewfest from noon to 5 p.m. on Aug. 3. Downtown will be closed to traffic to allow visitors to wander, check out all the local brews, food trucks, vendors and live entertainment. Then at 6 p.m., there will be a dance party in the Speakeasy. $25 gets you 10 tastings and a commemorative glass. Go to oaklandoregonevents.com for more information.
The Speakeasy transformed one of the big storage warehouses alongside the railroad to an event center. The Speakeasy can now be reserved for barn dances, weddings or other gatherings. To see it firsthand come to the First Annual Brewfest on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Also in August is the Quilt Show, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16 and 17. Quilts will be displayed in the Historic Washington School at 637 Locust St. with some vintage quilts displayed in downtown buildings. For more information, go to Oakland Oregon Historic District on Facebook.
While in town check out all the new, and old, businesses. The Carriage Works that built horse-drawn vehicles until the 1960s has been replaced by 1819 Speed Shop which repairs and upgrades motorcycles. The Speed Shop is on Maple Street across from Bart’s Oakland Market. It is another modern use of the old building. Although you won’t see many carriages, Oakland is a favorite stop for many old car, motorcycle and bicycle groups.
Riley’s 1905 Emporium is the newest addition to an array of boutiques and antique stores. It is located in the old Ice House on Locust Street. They are no longer making ice but they do have old time candies and vintage sodas, and everything else imaginable from tools and toys to boots and hats.
Each antique store has its own style and type of merchandise so one needs to visit them all. Good thing Daisy Hill Bakery and the Eye Opener Café and other eateries are spaced between antique stores as it can take all day to see everything in town. A piece of pie at Daisy Hill Bakery, coffee at the Eye Opener or ice cream at Tolly’s provides a perfect break from shopping. Speaking of eateries; Tolly’s has reopened and is returning to its former glory. Paul Tollefson, son of the original owners Carol and Terry Tollefson, has revitalized the restaurant with a sumptuous dinner menu while bringing back the old favorite lunch sandwiches. Oakland Tavern is a local and regional favorite place for sandwiches, drinks and camaraderie. The Lamplighter Café has new owners and a new menu. These provide ample variety and choices for places to eat.
But it isn’t all food and antiques. Pepper & Co. hair design on the corner of Maple and First Street; and Lotus across from Tolly’s, both embrace current trends and styles. There is nothing historic about Chelsea Gibbins’ hairstyles at Pepper & Co. except for the warm ambiance of her shop. Rachel Dean at Lotus offers everything from yoga and massages to classes in macramé.
If all the shopping and sightseeing leave you in need of refreshment, Triple Oak Wine Vault in the old Bank building on the corner of Locust and Second Streets offers wine from their own vineyard as well as other wines from the Umpqua Valley. Come in for a glass of wine and to see how they have repurposed the old bank vault. Besides sampling the wine, you can enjoy music events, rent the space for private parties or come to “Wine Therapy” every Friday evening.
If it is too much for one day there are now several places to stay, check out Airbnb.com. Last, visit our delightful museum which showcases life in Oakland’s early days, but as one Google review stated: “The whole town is a museum.”