(Above) Downtown Creston in 1964. (Below

(Above) Downtown Creston in 1964. (Below

Creston Museum’s historical tours offer unique look at history

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I just took two trips back in time to the Creston that existed before the first automobile coughed its way along mud-rutted downtown streets. Creston Museum manager Tammy Hardwick played the role of Jean Ramsey Mallandaine, an immigrant from Scotland, who moved to Creston in 1904 to teach in Creston’s first school. Dressed in period costume, Hardwick began the tour by introducing herself and explaining that her friend, Hannah Maxwell, has a grandson with an app that lets her travel through time. She stays in Mallandaine’s character for the entire tour.

The bus makes several stops in the hour-and-a-half tour and at each stop, Hardwick displays several old-time photos that show what the area looked like back in the early 1900s and tells about the dreams and escapades of the people who lived and worked here at that time. Her research is impeccable and includes anecdotes that make Creston’s past residents into real people with real challenges, real secrets and real successes.

Her photographs are carefully chosen. While parked in the parking lot behind the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce building, she held up photographs of Fleet Street, which ran along the west side of the railroad tracks where wooden boardwalks formed the waiting platforms at the train station. At this stop, Hardwick pointed out Creston’s first newspaper office, the Review, the Mawson brothers’ store and the Pacific Café, where Matt, the Chinese restaurateur, gave food to people whether they could pay or not. Crestonites have been taking care of each other for a long time.

The next stop was between the two drugstores on 11th Avenue North where we looked at photographs that showed Creston’s first auditorium, a small convenience store, a bakery and Richard Bevan’s garage where you could buy a Model T Ford. Mrs. Mallandaine expressed awe at the fact that Richard Bevan was able to drive all the way to Cranbrook in five and a quarter hours.

There were several more stops on the bus tour and at each one, Mrs. Mallandaine showed photos of 40-acre apple orchards that existed that are now residential areas. One of these orchards belonged to Dr. G. B. Henderson, who, unlike other doctors of the early 1900s (and many doctors of the present day), bought land and stayed in Creston. Dr. Henderson and his wife, Nurse Ellen, attended the medical needs of Crestonites for several years.

I also took part in the orchard tour that was led by a student employee. We began with a tour through the orchard display behind the museum with hands-on activities to give us a feeling for what it was like to own and operate an orchard in Creston’s early days. Children had an opportunity to try some of the old equipment. Adults role-played some of the historical figures in the Creston orchard industry.

The hands-on experience got real when a bus took us to a cherry orchard where we picked cherries for the Harvest Share program and were allowed to keep a third of what we picked for our own use. I now have a good-sized jar of dried cherries ready to be added to my winter porridge.

Both of these tours are fascinating. The orchard tour offers a fun family event and the downtown tour with Mrs. Mallandaine offers a glimpse into how our community evolved from huge apple orchards to the town we live in today. Kudos to Tammy Hardwick and the Creston Museum.

To join the Orchard tour, be at the museum on Thursdays at 4 p.m. and to join the downtown tour, be there on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. These tours also afford an opportunity to support our local museum. They are $15 per individual with a family of four rate of $45. Additional family members can join at $10 per person. It’s money and time well-spent!