Winter Comes: Oregon’s Nordic Ski History

Come out and experience a new exhibit at the Deschutes Historical Museum that explores Oregon’s Nordic Ski history.

Winter Comes: Oregon’s Nordic Ski History exhibit at Deschutes Historical Museum

Long before the invention of the wheel, humans used skis for means of winter transportation. The strong influence of the Scandinavian culture allowed Bend to be on the forefront of Nordic skiing since the early 1920s. Yet, the history of Nordic skiing in Oregon, Bend and Central Oregon has never been told in a comprehensive way, until now. The development of the exhibit is under the leadership of museum executive director, Kelly Cannon-Miller, co-curator, Tim Gibbons with the Oregon Nordic Ski Foundation, and local historian, Tor Hanson.

The Deschutes Historical Museum, 129 NW Idaho Avenue in Bend, premieres Winter Comes: Oregon’s Nordic Ski History on March 1, 2016. The 1,200 square foot, interactive exhibit will feature oral histories from sons and daughters from ski pioneers, the history of Nordic skiing, as well as reproductions of past skiing equipment and clothing, to current technology. Adding to the uniqueness of the exhibit are significant donations or loans of artifacts from across Oregon, plus ski museums in Sweden and Norway.

Unique to the exhibit is the loan of Emil Nordeen, early Bend Nordic ski pioneer’s, ‘The Klamath’ trophy he won in 1929 and 1931 at the Fort Klamath to Crater Lake cross-country ski race. The Klamath is one of only three trophies manufactured by Wallace Trophies in Pittsburg, PA. It measures 39 inches tall and is made from solid silver. At the time, the Klamath was valued at $1,600 and was recently appraised at $32,000.

The exhibit is made possible through generous grants from the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Nordic Ski Foundation, and many local donors and businesses.

The exhibit runs through November 2016. While portions of the exhibit will travel to Klamath Falls and Mt. Hood during 2017-2018, the artifacts, photographs, historic films and oral histories gathered will remain on display or as part of the permanent collection at the Museum.

The Deschutes Historical Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is only $5 for adults, $2 for youth 13-17, and children 12 and under are free. For more information, call 541-389-1813 or

Highlights of exhibit:

The Västerbottens Museum in Umeå, Sweden is loaning the Klamath Cup trophy for the exhibit. Emil Nordeen won this large (38” high) and expensive trophy in 1931 from his second win in the Ft. Klamath to Crater Lake ski race.

* Oral histories, artifacts and videos on prominent ski pioneers Emil Nordeen, Olaf and Nels Skjersaa, Hjalmer Hvam and Jack Meissner and others.

* Photos and stories of John Day, co-founder of the Oregon Nordic Club

* Artifacts and video of Virginia Meissner, past president of Central Oregon Nordic Club

* The Norwegian Ski Museum in Morgedal is hand crafting skis in the design and methods of the 1860s along with birch bindings, leather boots and poles.

* Shared community memories

* Reproductions of Altai skis handmade in China