A Visit to the Evergreen Museum by Eric Rehm

A long, long time ago, when I was 15, I visited the Spruce Goose in Long Beach California.  I was fascinated with the huge eight engined behemoth of a flying boat which was, even in the ‘80s, steeped in legend and had only flown once.  I desperately wanted to go inside the Goose and visit the flight deck but inside tours were suspended on the day of my visit.  Since then, it has always been on my bucket list to revisit this living piece of history. 

Fast forward a bunch of years later and I finally got my chance on a recent overnight in Portland Oregon.  The Spruce Goose now resides in McMinnville Oregon as the centerpiece of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.  McMinnville has its own municipal airport KMMV of which the museum is right across the street.  I arrived by car only a one hour drive from the Portland International Airport.  

I was actually jumping up and down a little as I entered the museum and saw the Spruce Goose sitting quietly in its new building, beckoning me.  I paid a little extra for a docent’s tour of the cockpit which is a must if you ever go.  I learned a whole bunch of arcane knowledge from the docents as I peppered them with questions.  I won’t bore you with them all here but if you see me at Galt and are interested, just ask and I’ll tell you all I know.  One fun fact is that the Hughes employees christened the plane the “Birch Bitch” as it is made entirely of Vermont birch, not spruce.  The press could not print the word bitch though and asked Howard to come up with a different name.  He apparently rolled his eyes and derisively made the name “Spruce Goose” up on the spot and much to his chagrin, it stuck.  

Even without the Goose, the Evergreen Museum is worth a visit.  It consists of two buildings chock full of old and interesting aircraft and spacecraft.  If that wasn’t enough, there is a third building which houses an indoor waterpark.  Not just any old run-of-the-mill waterpark though.  This one has a Boeing 747 sitting a top it with water slides coming out of its empennage and twisting back into the building.  Crazy!

You can find out more about the museum at www.evergreenmuseum.org