Dr. John McLoughlin by Adrian Voisin, 1933

Dr. John McLoughlin by Adrian Voisin, 1933

At the 99 E turnout at Willamette Falls in Oregon City is this bronze bust of Dr. John McLoughlin, chief factor, or superintendent of the British Hudson’s Bay Company which he founded at Ft. Vancouver in 1824.

The bust is by Adrian Voisin, a popular sculptor whose work was often seen in corporate board rooms in the 1930s and 1940s, and who died, I think in San Francisco, in 1979. The only other Voisin I know of in the area available to the public is at Jefferson High School in North Portland. They have two – a bust of Hopkin Jenkins, a longtime principal of the school, and a commemorative bas-relief in bronze of the journey of Lewis and Clark.

The sculpture is both in a terrible location and is badly damaged by the weather. Tourists stop to look at the falls and look at their maps, but the bust, which looks out onto the steam-belching paper mill, is easily missed. Driving, blink and you miss it.

Bronze develops a green patina when exposed to the air. The McLoughlin bust has, as you can see, gray, black and brown corrosion. The bust sits on a roughly sculpted boulder. The level eye line with the sculpture is about eight feet high, so the best view of the sculpture is standing on the cliff barrier (drop is only about 70 feet). With the advanced damage, and location, it’s hard to look at from any angle.

MAP – See a the location of this artwork

From a 2004 Oregon City Commission report –

The bust of Dr. John McLoughlin was a gift from the Oregon Congress of Parents and Teachers to the State of Oregon commemorating the deeds of its founder, Dr. John McLoughlin. It was dedicated on June 8, 1941 at its location in Oregon City. The bronze bust was mounted on a natural stone block and placed between the (Pacific) highway and Willamette River at the Falls Vista overlook. The bust of Dr. McLoughlin was sculpted by American artist Adrian Alexander Voisin who completed it in 1933 at a cost of $2,000.

For six years the Oregon Congress of Parents and Teachers (PTA) worked through it organizations with parents, teachers and children, using the slogan “Two Copper Pennies for a Big Bronze Bust” to raise the money for the statue. Parochial, public and private schools responded along with children’s organizations and PTA groups to contribute to this noble gift. Original plans called for placing the bust in the garden of the McLoughlin house but following its renovation in the late 1930’s, the McLoughlin Memorial Association suggested it be placed overlooking the Willamette River and Falls, as Dr. McLoughlin cherished it so much that even upon his death bed he asked to be carried to the window to “see the setting sun’s reflection upon the waters of the river.” The State Highway Commission, acting upon the suggestion of chairman, Mr. Henry F. Cabell, purchased the property upon which the statue now stands overlooking the Willamette Falls.

EXTRA – John McLoughlin, father of Oregon
EXTRA – John McLoughlin, from Wikipedia