Cottage Grove

The coat that proved unsinkable


Cottage Grove, being a small town out in the sticks, doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of the drama and tragedy associated with the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage.
At the time of the 1912 disaster, Cottage Grove could boast of 1850 inhabitants, just 300 more than the number of lives lost on the ocean liner, The Titanic. One of the 710 who survived the sinking was Miss Marion Wright, who was crossing the Atlantic to start a new life as the future wife of Cottage Grove orchard owner Arthur Woolcott.
After the survivors landed in New York City, there was much confusion before the couple was able to be reunited. When they finally found each other, they began the journey that took them across the country to the Willamette Valley.
Traveling with them was the coat that Mrs. Woolcott had put on along with her robe the night she was rudely jostled from bed by an iceberg.
That coat has made a few journeys as well recently, traveling to the Ronald Reagan Museum and just finishing a stint at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. Mrs. Woolcott’s coat is due back in town this month to take up its life in an updated display case at the Cottage Grove Historical Museum following the tour.
To learn more about the famous coat, the Woolcott’s lives, and more historical background of the R.M.S. Titanic, you are invited to the first of a new series of historical presentations. Tara Sue Hughart, coordinator of the Cottage Grove Historical Museum, will be at Magnolia Gardens, 1425 Daugherty Ave, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free, the public is welcome, and refreshments will be provided.
Hughart will also be discussing many interesting facts about the Titanic’s construction, sinking and rediscovery in 1985, as well as its Cottage Grove connections.
Coordinator Hughart will host the first in a new series of Historical Presentations that will be offered at Magnolia Gardens each third Tuesday. These monthly interactive talks are a collaboration of our local historical groups: The Cottage Grove Historical Society, The C.G Genealogical Society, The Oregon Aviation Historical Society and the Cottage Grove Historical Museum.
These organizations will take turns making presentations. Holly Turpin, board member of the Historical Society in Cottage Grove, explained the rationale for this new series of presentations.
”It is a new way to reach folks who aren’t able to attend the regular Saturday morning events by the historical society,” she said. ”Each of the talks will begin with a Cottage Grove connection, but then branch out into general historical facts about the subject because not all the attendees are Cottage Grove natives.”
The inspiration for these talks comes from two longtime fixtures from the historical community, Joann Gray and Marcia Allen, Hughart told me. They wanted another way to reach community residents to further the knowledge of local history and preserve memories that are disappearing with change.
Please mark your calendar for the third Tuesday and come out to Magnolia Gardens at 2:30 p.m. to learn more about parts of community that have been. I am certain you will also learn some living history from the residents, as their memories will be shared in questions and comments that the planned talks will no doubt generate. To learn from the past is to understand the future.
Dana Merryday can be reached at: 541-942-7037; [email protected]



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