The Jefferson County Historical Museum, located for many years in the upper floor of the historic old County Courthouse in downtown Madras, was established in the 1970s. Since 2012, the museum’s collection has been moved twice — first to the former Westside Elementary School and then to a secure storage site in late summer/early fall 2022 — as the Historical Society raises funds to build a new museum. The collection is crammed with historically significant objects, artifacts, records, photographs, and archival materials. Each item tells its own distinctive part of the story of Jefferson County from Native American times to the homestead and railroad-boom era, through the Great Depression and drought to the advent of irrigation, dam construction, light industry, and tourism. A new museum, to be built on property on the west side of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, will feature regular exhibit changes and interactive displays as well as permanent features, so you will be able to discover for yourself how people really lived in these parts in earlier times. A special attraction in the new museum will be a “Children’s Historical Playhouse.”
Nearby, on the fairgrounds, you can step into our authentically furnished 1914 homestead farmhouse, a gift of the Farrell family of Gateway; and also go back to school in our one-room country school. Adjacent to the homestead and school, lovers of old farm machinery will enjoy a fine collection of horse-drawn and early motorized implements, including a very rare locally-built 1900s water-wagon, and probably one of the only horse-powered “stump-pullers” (for clearing fields of juniper trees) still in existence.