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Gerald Hopkins, left, and Charlie Horn examine a lantern in June in a cell of a building that once served as Elgin’s jail. Hopkins is president of the Elgin Museum and Historical Society and Horn is curator of the Elgin Museum.

ELGIN — The doors to Elgin’s past will be unlocked this weekend.

The Elgin Museum is set to reopen Saturday, Sept. 12. This weekend will be the first of at least eight it will be open in September and October.

Gerald Hopkins, president of the Elgin Museum Historical Society, said the museum could stay open after October.

“It will depend on the weather,” Hopkins said.

The museum’s season opening on June 18 was prevented by a spike in the COVID-19 cases in Union County. Face coverings are now required to slow the spread of the virus and ward off other spikes in cases, and everyone visiting the museum must adhere to social distancing rules. Free masks will be available to all visitors.

The historical museum moved into the former Elgin City Hall, 180 N. Eighth St., allowing it to reopen for the first time in a decade in May 2019.

It operated on the second floor of the Elgin Opera House for a number of years before closing because of space issues.

A noteworthy new feature at the museum is one of Elgin’s oldest jails, which Hopkins and others relocated and restored. The old jail, on Saturday, will be open to the public for the first time since its renovation.

The jail was originally on Seventh Street in Elgin, from 1895 to 1914. The small wooden building was moved to an Elgin farm sometime after the Elgin Opera House was built in 1912. A jail was put inside the opera house following its construction. In 2001 the old jail was moved to a site about 50 feet east of the Elgin Opera House, where it stood unidentified and overlooked for nearly 20 years. In 2019 it was moved to where it is today, about 10 feet from the west side of the new Elgin Museum.

The museum features historic artifacts ranging from the turn of the 20th century to present day, including uniforms from the Elgin Fire Department and its old police department, clothing from the World War I and World War II eras, Elgin Stampede memorabilia and photos dating back to the late 1800s showing the town’s business and agriculture.

Ads from old businesses, such as Owl’s Drugstore and Sander’s Texaco Service Station, also are on display.

The museum also has a collection of Northeast Oregon memorabilia, which the historical museum society hopes to expand, Hopkins said. People who would like to donate local American Indian memorabilia should call Hopkins at 541-534-4390 or Charlie Horn at 541-805-9617.

The museum will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during September and October, plus Sunday, Nov. 1. Admission will be $2 per person regardless of age.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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