Closed border meant fewer visitors to Oroville’s visitor center and museum

Furthest visitors came from China and Kazakhstan

Gary DeVon/staff photo
The Oroville Depot Museum and Visitor Information Center (VIC) has closed for the season. With the border closed because of COVID-19 the number of visitors was down considerably compared to normal years Arnie Marchand, who works at the VIC and museum says he is available to take small groups through the museum by appointment.

OROVILLE – The Oroville Visitor Information Center, housed at the Depot Museum, experienced a big drop in visitors this year, mostly due to the U.S./Canadian border being closed to all but ‘essential’ people heading south into the U.S.

“The closing of the border has had a dramatic affect of our Visitors Information Centers’ ability to function,” said Arnie Marchand, one of the hosts at the Visitor Information Center (VIC) and museum. “We started on May Day this year and decided to wait until the last week in May to open on a limited basis.”

Arnie Marchand
He said this year, the information center and museum, which is operated by the Borderlands Historical Society, was visited by people from three countries other than the U.S. Despite the border being closed, he said there were visitors from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. In addition there were visitors from China and some from Almatg, Kazakhstan. People from 13 states that visited with 42 guests were part of this year’s 658 visitors. During normal years those numbers are two and three times higher.

“The most interesting number were the people not from those states or countries, but the rest of them. They, each and every one of them, had some connection to Oroville or the Okanogan Valley. All had wives, husbands, relatives, parents or grandparents that had some relationship with us,” he said. “It proves that we are and will always have need for our VIC/Museum and the people from our area do return, even in all of the problems with this Covid Pandemic, they return.”

The VIC was open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., during the months of June, July and August.

“September was the deciding factor on whether to close in the middle of the month. The schools were open again in Canada and that is where much of our usual visitors are coming from, so to close was easy,” Marchand said, adding, “The good news is that we are not going to take down the center display until late in the year.”

Marchand says that will allow him to open up the museum upon request for small groups and grade school and high school classes and he will be able to assist the Wenatchee Valley College at Omak should they wish to visit.

Marchand can be reached daily between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. by telephone at 509-476-2440 or by email at cerastoneus@gmail.com.

“Arrangements can be made should the group be too large for one day and I need only a few days prior to heat the back room on the day of the event for your convenience,” he said. “Remember, I will be available to help should you need a visit to our most interesting VIC/Depot Museum.”

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