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Oregon is featured in more than 500 films, and a project by the state film office is marking movie locations with informational signs.
Baker County has three signs, all dedicated to the 1969 musical “Paint Your Wagon,” which was filmed here in 1968.
The markers can be found outside Baker Heritage Museum, 2480 Grove St., inside the lodge at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, and outside the city hall in Richland, once the ground thaws (this one will eventually be placed at Richland’s future playground).
“It’s a nod to the fact that this community played an important part,” said Jane Ridley, who works on marketing communication and special events for the Governor’s Office of Film & TV (Oregon Film Office, for short).
The project is called The Oregon Film Trail.
“The trail stitches together communities, locations and films,” Ridley said. “It’s a very rich history.”
Each sign has two parts. The top is the movie title, its release year and a synopsis. The bottom panel has “Did you know?” information.
Ridley said Oregon’s film history dates to 1907 when “The Fisherman’s Bride” was filmed in Astoria.“A lot of silent movies were made here in that era,” Ridley said.
The first sign was placed in 2018 at Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site in honor of “Sometimes a Great Notion,” named for Ken Kesey’s book of the same title.
Many of the trail signs feature recognizable films, such as “Kindergarten Cop” and “The Goonies” — both filmed in Astoria — “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which has a sign at the Oregon Museum of Mental Health in Salem, and the 1991 movie “Point Break” filmed near Cannon Beach.
There’s even a sign for an animated movie — “Coraline,” the first stop-motion film by Laika Studios that was inspired by Ashland.
Ridley said searching for movie sites is a slice of Oregon’s tourism, and these new signs could drive economic development across the state. “The numbers are staggering,” she said. “Film tourism is definitely on the rise.”
The Oregon Film Office has partnered with an app call SetJetters, which allows a user to search for a movie and find out where it was filmed. It’s called the “Reel to Real Experience.” “You can search to see wherever in the world it was shot,” she said. And then go there, and preserve the occasion with a selfie, and maybe stick around to shop or eat or sleep. “It’s a small part of growing the economy,” Ridley said. “We really want these (signs) to help communities.” Each sign has a QR code to scan for quick access to the SetJetters app and directions to exact scene locations.
Users can even pose to recreate a specific scene from the movie. For the sign project, the film office worked with partners across the state to determine placement and wording. In Baker County, each sign has slightly different information. “Everyone has a piece of ownership and communities have been really supportive,” Ridley said.
Dave Hunsaker was part of a county team that worked on wording for the signs.“Each one of these signs is interesting with a site specific piece,” said Hunsaker, who is on the board of directors for the Baker Heritage Museum. He and his wife, Joyce Badgley Hunsaker, watched “Paint Your Wagon” multiple times to capture the wording. “There were several aspects of language we wanted to get right — we watched it forward and backward,” he said. He’s hoping the sign will entice people to visit the museum to see movie memorabilia, including a model of No Name City.
Across the state
An interactive map of the 41 signs can be found at www.historicoregonfilmtrail.com/map.html.
(Baker City’s three signs aren’t on the map yet.)
One site — Portland International Airport — isn’t dedicated to a particular film. Instead, it honors the state’s film history with a 160-foot mural of art, movie posters and Oregon landscapes.
In Eastern Oregon, Ridley pointed out a 350-mile loop that goes from Pendleton to La Grande to Baker City (with an Anthony Lakes side trip) then to Richland, Halfway, Wallowa Lake, Joseph, Athena and Pendleton.
“There’s quite a lot to see,” Ridley said. “Eastern Oregon’s been on my wish list for a long time to get signs there. I’m super excited about the Eastern Oregon loop.”
Travelers can find six signs — and lots of scenery — along that road trip. Here are the highlighted movies:
• “Paint Your Wagon” (1969) — Anthony Lakes, Baker City and Richland.
• “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” (1993) — Wallowa Lake and Joseph.
• “City Girl” (1930) — Athena.
Brian Vegter, who served on the team with Hunsaker, sees the partnership between the Oregon Film Trail and SetJetters as a boon to the local economy.
“They’re helping shine a light on these areas,” he said. “It gives people another reason to come out here.”