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Hops Are Our Heritage: Exhibit Panels for Independence

November 6, 2013

By Andrea Pittman

Did you know that Independence, Oregon was at one time known as the Hop Capitol of the World? The rich alluvial soil on the farms surrounding Independence made it perfect for growing the climbing hop plant for nearly a century, from the 1860s through the 1950s.  In recent years hop farming has come back and there are several farms in the area as well as breweries and pubs. Hops are most commonly used as a bittering or flavoring agent in beer.

The eight exhibit panels about the history of hops in Independence.

The eight exhibit panels about the history of hops in Independence.

Due to a generous Oregon Heritage Grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, in partnership with the Polk County Cultural Coalition, the Independence Heritage Museum has just finished a set of eight exhibit panels that tell the story of hops in our community over the decades. From transportation, to ethnic diversity, to the hop production process, people will learn how hops affected this community. In addition, six panels were printed that each have an old newspaper page related to the Independence-area hop industry. For example one headline from the Morning Oregonian, July 12, 1912, reads “Independence: Live Town in Heart of Rich Country–fertile soil, ideal climate and ready market combine to attract homeseekers to Willamette Valley City.”

Detail of an exhibit panel.

Detail of an exhibit panel.

Four sets of these panels were ordered: one for the museum to display, one for the museum to use for local events, one for the museum to loan out, and one permanently displayed on the columns by the amphitheater. For more information the panels direct the inquisitive to the Heritage Museum and/or the “Extended Information” portion of the museum’s website.

Because of the Oregon Heritage Grant, we were able to enlist the layout and printing services of the Imagine Group in Eugene. Jon Bogart did a great job and was very patient with our many edits; we kept sending him “final drafts” and he would send proofs and we’d send another set of edits and on and on! Finally we bit the bullet and gave them the go-ahead to print.

Our hope is that both visitors to Independence and its citizens will view the panels and better appreciate this small community we call home.

Andrea Pittman is the Independence Heritage Museum Assistant.

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