Bybee-Howell House

The Bybee-Howell House will be open for tours for the first time in 25 years.

The Sauvie Island Jubilee, the first of its kind, is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Howell Territorial Park on the island.

The celebration is in part a celebration of an anniversary: This year marks the 75th anniversary of the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District (WMSWCD). Co-organizers Eric Jones, an anthropologist and professor from Oregon State University and Renee Magyar, Communications and Outreach Manager of WMSWCD, have been working on the Sauvie Island Jubilee for a little over a year. The organizers said the jubilee celebrates both the district’s anniversary and the island community where the district was originally founded as the Sauvie Island Conservation District.

The event is free and according to Magyar, it will be a community festival in the spirit of past “Wintering In” harvest festivals. During those events, participants were invited to do activities such as candle making and iron work. This year’s event, according to Magyar, will have a lot of those types of activities.

According to Jones, many different partners will be participating. Those partners include the Scappoose Historical Society, the Columbia County Historical Society and Museum Association and the Sauvie Island Center, among others.

Les Watters, curator for the Columbia County Museum, will be displaying photos that will educate onlookers about shipbuilding that occurred on the north part of Sauvie Island in Columbia County during World War II.

“I’ve seen some of the pictures and they’re just terrific. And you know, it doesn’t take too many decades and generations for people to forget that there was all that infrastructure down there,” Jones said.

Watters said the pictures displayed will range from the years 1916 through 1920 and will feature ships that the St. Helens Shipbuilding Company, owned by the McCormick family, built during that time period. According to Watters, ships were often used for the lumber trade, and would often carry both lumber and passengers from Portland to San Francisco on a regular route. One of the ships that will be displayed in a photo will be the Wapama, a ship that was featured for many years in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

The booth will be stationed near the rear entrance of the Bybee-Howell House, an old house built right before Oregon was granted statehood in 1859 that will be open for groups to tour for the first time in 25 years.

Because the event is meant to be family-friendly, there will also be plenty of activities for kids to do. Some of those activities include corn husk doll-making, scientific games in the island’s forest, a scavenger hunt and a salsa bar activity where children will make salsa from local ingredients.

In addition to the Bybee-Howell House, groups will be able to tour wetlands in the area.

Overall, the event will particularly focus on conservation. According to Magyar, 34 exhibitors will be coming to the event, some of them nonprofits that the WMSWCD works directly with, and others that are local organizations.

Jones also stressed that he wanted residents of Columbia County to attend the event, partly because one-third of Sauvie Island is inside of Columbia County.

“The island is a very special place for a lot of people in the broader region, including Portland, but especially towns along the Multnomah Channel where people have long gone to Sauvie Island and still go for everything from bike riding to being on the Columbia [River] with the beaches to duck hunting and wildlife viewing. It’s a beautiful jewel, in Oregon’s landscape,” Jones said. “There’s a long, interconnected relationship and history between St. Helens, Scappoose, Warren and Sauvie Island.”

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