The little town of Aurora fully embraces the past. Founded by pioneers who traveled across the continent along the Oregon Trail to create their own version of a utopian society in the new open countryside of the Oregon Territory. The town feels like a living history museum, but it is not. It is a community filled with white picket fences, little white churches, and antique shops. The active historical society has added colorful bright blue benches where you can sit down and soak in the sun and the atmosphere of a slower pace of life.
It was a perfect sunny Autumn day when I last visited. The shops were decorated with their fall decorations, and the business association had a scarecrow decorating contest. As you wandered around town you could vote for your favorite on display. There are a surprising number of antique shops for the size of the town, making it a must-stop for any lover of vintage and collectibles. The museum offers a free virtual guided tour they call “A Walk With Emma” that will give you some history on each building and house. Most homes are privately owned, but have a plaque outside describing who originally lived there and a bit of their history. You can learn more information with the “Walk With Emma” brochures found around town shops. Don’t miss the gigantic black walnut tree outside the carpenter’s house – planted no doubt as a valuable hardwood for future projects.
The original creators of this idyllic village arrived beginning in 1856. They wanted to create a Christian utopian commune and at its height, had about 600 people. Mostly families from the Missouri and Pennsylvania areas and of German or Swiss descent, their woodworking skills are evident.
The uniform white painted homes tie the village together as a whole. Located on the rail line, the original rail road depot is now a unique antique store run by a friendly life-long resident who can tell you all kinds of stories about the town and activities.
The museum is very active and has many living history demonstrations, tours, and plenty of opportunities to get the kids engaged in history. It makes for a fun trip for the whole family to visit, or just for someone who enjoys wandering through antique shops, walking through a bit of Oregon’s history, and taking a drive in the beautiful countryside on a crisp and sunny Autumn morning.
In the area, you might also enjoy visiting nearby Filbert’s Farmhouse Kitchen for lunch or do some wine tasting at Aurora Colony Vineyards. Perhaps visit the nearby Historic town of Butteville and a visit to the Champoeg Musuem or ride the ferries that cross the Willamette River.