Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Big Fair by Janet Chester Bly


Lewis & Clark Centennial Overview
Lewis & Clark Centennial Overview

Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition 1905 by Janet Chester Bly

Check end of article to participate in book giveaway ...


The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition* happened June 1 to October 15, 1905 in Portland, Oregon. 

The theme suggested by the Oregon Historical Society  centered on the 100-year celebration of the explorers' Meriwether Lewis and William Clark 1805 crossing the U.S. to the Pacific Ocean. But finances originally spurred the project.

Oregon suffered from the nationwide Long Depression of the 1890's. The state's business leaders tried to devise ideas for boosting their economy. An international fair was suggested and a Board of Directors established with Henry W. Goode as president. Other board members included Portland's wealthiest and most powerful men.

Lewis & Clark Centennial Lake View
Lewis & Clark Centennial Lake View
After funding received by personal investments, government backing,and citizens who purchased stock certificates, they searched for a site. They finally chose the Guild's Lake area at the edge of Portland. Guild's Lake provided groves of trees, acres of pasture, and 220 acres of shallow water at the center. Also the marshland sprawled with dogwoods, maples, blackberry vines, and flowering currants.

John Olmstead, the landscape architect, prepared the layout to imitate the "White City" of Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The vast majority of the structures overlooked Guild's Lake. A wide staircase led down to the lake and a myriad of amusements. Beyond that scene rose four snow-clad mountain peaks: Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Hood. To the west was the Cascade Range through which Lewis and Clark made their trip to the Pacific Coast.

The majority of the buildings resembled Spanish Renaissance style, decorated with flourishes such as ivory
Lewis & Clark Centennial Federal Building
Lewis & Clark Centennial Federal Bldg
white domes, cupolas, arched doorways and red-colored or moss green roofs. The massive Federal Building "looked like a cross between a railroad depot and a Mexican cathedral." (Oregon Historical Society).

Other architecture formed the massive colonnade entrance.

Lewis & Clark Centennial Colonnade Entrance

Exhibits and Parks 

Exhibits included agriculture, technology, and music themes and featured The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and various other concerts, the Smithsonian Institute, and artist displays such as Claude Monet. An amusement park included a Ferris wheel. The sidewalks teemed with sideshows. There were novelties such as free motion pictures and blimp excursions. Every night fireworks displays lit up the skies.

Lewis & Clark Centennial Sacajaweah sculpure now in Washington Park
Sacajawea in WA Park
Numerous marble statues dotted the grounds and experimental gardens. Alice Cooper's Sacajawea sculpture is now erected in Washington Park. Over 100 thousand light bulbs outlined the buildings, bridges, and statues for a spectacular nighttime view.

Adjacent to Vaughn Street Park, usually a baseball stadium, the Lewis and Clark Centennial sponsored the National Track and Field Championships. The site also became finish line for nation's first Transcontinental Automobile Race.

Plywood was introduced at the Fair which featured many of the latest innovations of the day. The elaborate, but temporary buildings largely constructed of plaster over wooden frames were eventually dismantled and torn down. Not even Guilds Lake remains today. Over the years it was filled with dirt and covered with industrial buildings.

The major exception to this was the Swiss Chalet-styled Forestry Building dubbed the "World's Largest Log
Lewis & Clark Centennial Forestry Building
Lewis & Clark Centennial Forestry Bldg
Cabin." Constructed of 54 long unhewn logs, three stories high, with rustic tree-lined interior, it was 200 x 200' wide x 200' long and 72' tall. The building remained until destroyed by fire in 1964. The World Forestry Center, a replacement museum, was erected in Portland's Washington Park.

Other buildings still in existence from the fair include the Fairmount Hotel, the American Inn (the only on-site hotel and now converted into condos), and the NCR Building (St. Johns Theater and Pub).

Some controversies surrounding the Lewis and Clark Centennial:

* Many of the speakers advocated support of women’s right to vote.
* A Philippines display showed tribal native people preparing and eating dog meat.
• A Chinese exclusion order was discussed.
• In Portland, the Cooks and Waiters Union asked union members to boycott restaurants employing Chinese cooks.

Lewis & Clark Centennial Oriental Palace

Vice-President's Speech

On opening day, Vice President Charles Fairbanks announced a theme for Oregon’s new century.
“The future has much in store for you. Yonder is Hawai’i, acquired for strategic purposes and demanded in the interest of expanding commerce. Lying in the waters of the Orient are the Philippines which fell to us by the inexorable logic of a humane and righteous war. We must not underrate the commercial opportunities which invite us to the ‘Orient.’”
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* The official name was Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair. The "Oriental Fair" reference added mostly to take advantage of tax shelter providing for trade with the Far East.

For more info about the Lewis and Clark Centennial 1905, check out: The Great Extravaganza: Portland and the Lewis and Clark Exposition (Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1981)
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Stuart Brannon's Final Shot

The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition played an important part in Stuart Brannon's Final Shot, my husband Stephen Bly's last novel that I and my three sons finished for him. Selah Award Finalist. Read that story here: http://www.blybooks.com/2012/03/coping-with-loss/

To find Stuart Brannon's Final Shot click here: http://www.blybooks.com/product_category/historical-western-novels/

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY ... A choice of paperback or hardback/large print copy of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot given to two random winners. Offer open 24 hours from time of article posting. Sign up here:

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26 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Janet. Thanks for bringing us this.

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    1. Susan: You're most welcome! Blessings, janet

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  2. This is fascinating info, Janet. I haven't heard of the Lewis and Clark Exposition. I imagine it was an exciting event for Oregon's people. Too bad so many of the buildings were torn down. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Vickie: It was so fun to work a story around this event. I couldn't get over how they determined from the beginning to destroy most of the buildings. I guess that's true of many other world fairs too.
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  3. Janet, This is a very interesting article . Such a wonderful and challenging project to accomplish .
    I can picture all the people being amazed at such a display! Loved learning about this.
    Thank you
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(com)

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    1. Jackie: Thanks much for comments. Can so envision the whole fair after all the research. Such fun!
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  4. Sorry I forgot to mention that what I like the most is that scavenger hunt gives me opportunity to learn of new books and authors.
    thank you

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  5. I loved learning about The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition! What an exciting celebration! I am eager to learn how the Expo played an important part in STUART BRANNON'S FINAL SHOT. Thank you for sharing this interesting post and offering this generous giveaway!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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    1. Britney: Hope you get to read Stuart Brannon's Final Shot with the special scenes at the Centennial.
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  6. I love fairs and have always been fascinated with the Lewis and Clark story. Your post makes me wish I had been around at that time to visit the Centennial Expo. Thanks.

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    1. Martha: Thanks for commenting. I would have loved to be there too! What an experience!
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  7. Great info! This all reminds me of my book report on Lewis & Clark - I never finished the book. When the teacher started asking me questions I didn't know, I lied. I know, terrible!! But it was 5th grade and I hated reading. LOL. He asked me if Lewis and Clark ever made it to where they were going and I admitted I had no clue. ;)
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

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    1. Susan: We all have unpleasant memories like that. If you win the novel, I hope you can gain a more positive view of Lewis and Clark! :-)
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  8. Thank you for sharing about the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. I didn't know anything about it.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

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    1. Susan: We didn't either before working on this fiction project. One of the absolute fun parts of writing ... the process of discovery!
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  9. Love hearing about background info on the books you and Steve write/have written. Totally awesome! Blessings, Connie Sue

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  10. Connie Sue: Thanks so much for the awesome comments!
    Blessings to you,
    Janni-Rae

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Thank you for this great post. It is so interesting! And thank you for the great giveaway. I always love reading from the different blogs during a scavenger hunt.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Melanie: Thanks for commenting and entering this giveaway.
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  13. I love meeting new authors and scavenger hunts are a great way to do that. I think it is so great the way you and your family really pulled together to finish your husband's book. When I first read the story it brought me to tears. Such love is displayed in that one simple act. I know Stephen is smiling in Heaven. I have been wanting to read this book. I used to be a huge western fiction fan but I haven't read any in awhile now. I'd love to read your collaborated efforts.

    Blessings,
    Wanda Barefoot
    flghtlss1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Greetings, Wanda: My family felt so privileged as well as greatly challenged to finish my husband's novel. Thank you so much for your comment. Hope you get a chance to read the book - maybe even win it!
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  14. I was interested in the new product called plywood. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Greetings, Sharon: Often events such as world fairs provide looks at future products. Fun to see what was new in 1905.
      Blessings,
      Janet

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  15. Congratulations to Britney A. and Susan M. as winners of a copy of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot.
    Blessings,
    Janet

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  16. Janet, thank you for this delightful post. I enjoy fairs, expositions with an historical theme, and home/garden/ranch shows. Don't have many of any of these in our little spot in southwest Colorado, but maybe next year.

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