55 years after it was first constructed as part of the original Fort Hoskins overlooking the Luckiamute River; under the supervision of 2nd Lt Phil Sheridan, the Commander's House is finally returning home to its foundations on Officer's Row at Fort Hoskins in Benton County, Oregon on Sunday, Oct 21, 2012.
The 12-ton house was built back in 1857 to house Captain Christopher Columbus Augur (a future Civil War General), his wife and children, during his assignment to the frontier outpost. Records show that two more children were born to the Augurs during the stay at Fort Hoskins. Of the 9 commanders of the companies stationed at the frontier outpost during its nine years of operation (1856-1865), Augur, Sheridan and two others were West Pointers who returned back east to participate in the Civil War.
Chris Arsenault LLC of Terrebonne, Oregon is the company in charge of the 14-mile move that will be hauling the venerable old house from a Pedee farm in Polk County south along Highway 223 and back to the Fort Hoskins site in Benton County, Oregon. Over the past 20 days, they have been preparing the structure for the move, separating the house into two sections that a crane will lift onto two separate dollies. Reducing the height of the moved sections will allow the Commanders House to fit under 70 power line spans that are strung over the roads and the countryside, and shaved off an additional $70,000 (estimated $1000 per power span) from the total moving bill which will now come to about $52,500. At one time, Benton County was considering the use of a helicopter to lift the Civil War era home over the power wires.
Although it will take only one hour to move the Commanders House to the park, another seven hours will be needed to haul the two sections along an old skid road and then to winch the house up a hill to its original footprint. In an interview with the Polk County Itemizer-Observer last week, Arsenault project manager Steve Long explained that the movers plan to bypass the main entrance to the park. "...It's winching it up to the new location that will take a while," he said. "It's fairly steep."
Neighbors in Kings Valley and even some of Oregon's Civil War re-enactors are planning to witness the event. Protected viewing areas will be provided in the park where spectators can view the final stages of the move from above. A "Ballad of Fort Hoskins" has been posted on YouTube to commemorate the return of the Commanders House to the historic park. Despite current extended weather forecasts for Kings Valley that show a 40% chance of showers, the October 21 move promises to be a memorable occasion and another example of how Oregon is contributing to the national observance of the Civil War's 150th Anniversary. With military-like precision, the move of the Commanders House back to Fort Hoskins is preparing for all eventualities and would even make Civil War General Phil Sheridan nod his head with approval.