by Deborah Steele Hazen
“Of Days Gone by and Days to Come – Clatskanie: 100 Years!”
That was the theme of Clatskanie Heritage Days in 1991, the same year that the City of Clatskanie celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Clatskanie as an incorporated city – in February of 1891.
That was not the beginning of Clatskanie as a town. The first settlers actually arrived in 1853 – 38 years before the city was incorporated. But, I digress.
In 1991, Heritage Days celebrated Clatskanie’s centennial with a “Centennialfest” event sponsored by the Clatskanie Arts Commission with live music and artists all day in the park on Saturday, June 29, as a precursor to the 4th of July events held the next week.
The last Saturday of June in 1991 also featured the “First Cruise of the Next Century,” a vintage car “show and shine” held on Lillich and NE Conyers streets by what is now Cope’s Park. In 1990, the “Columbia Cruisers” had sponsored a car show at the Trojan Park. That group evolved into the “Clatskanie Cruisers.”
While we hesitate to name names because we’re afraid of leaving someone out, it is our understanding that Dick and Arlene Long and Eddy and Diane Wood were responsible for organizing that first show and they have remained active ever since. Other early car show organizers, who continue to this day are Larry Garlock, Malcom and Jackie Groulx, joined as the years went on by others who share the mammoth task of organizing such a great event year after year.
In 1992 the “Second Cruise of the 2nd Century” was held on the last Saturday in June, also in the downtown area.
The next year its name was changed to the Heritage Cruise car show and the event was moved to the grass of the Clatskanie City Park. In 1996 – the year of the great flood – when the park grass was still covered with mud – a couple of blocks of Nehalem Street, in addition to Lillich and Steele streets, were closed to traffic to allow for the car show – which had grown that much in its first six years.
The Heritage Cruise car show moved back to the park in 1997, and has been there ever since on the last Saturday of June – providing a roaring start to Clatskanie’s annual 4th of July festivities, helping to increase Clatskanie’s reputation in collector car circles around the western United States and Canada, and, not least of all, raising funds for the entire Heritage Days celebration.
For most of the years of the car show’s existence, the Clatskanie Cruisers have been the largest single contributor to the Heritage Days celebration – the whole community owes them a debt of gratitude for that. From the proceeds of the raffles, they have also provided a scholarship for Clatskanie High School seniors.
So, not only is the Heritage Cruise car show a great event, it is a major reason why Heritage Days as a whole continued over the years, and is yet another example of how people working together for a common cause in this community have and will accomplish great things.
Our thanks and congratulations to the Clatskanie Cruisers on their 20th annual car show.
Let’s all go “Cruisin’ in Clatskanie” this weekend and on through the 4th of July!