• History of the Haggart Observatory

    ObservatoryThe Haggart Observatory is named for Harold Haggart, a long-time resident of the Oregon City area and one time professional telescope builder. As part of his life-long interest in astronomy, he constructed a personal observatory, originally called the Oregon Trail Observatory,  attached to his residence which housed a sophisticated telescope of his own design and making.

    Before his death in 1984 he sold the telescope to the City of Portland. In May, 1988, Mr. Haggart's widow, Darcy Haggart, completed negotiations with the Clackamas Community College Environmental Learning Center (ELC) for the donation of the dome and drive assembly from her home. The dome and drive, constructed in 1948 by Mr. Haggart who hand cut and crimped each Wedge-shaped piece, was still weather tight and in perfect working order.

    Coast Crane of Portland donated the use of a crane to lift the dome onto a truck allowing the ELC to build a public observatory. Construction of the Haggart Observatory began in the summer of 1988 with Lee Engineering as the designer of the project’s structure. Even as the structure was under construction, details of the design underwent many changes.

    The final design resulted in an observing area that stood 45 feet above ground, to put it above tree level. A circular stairway leads up to the six foot wide viewing deck. Each of the 32 steps in the stairway was purchased for $250 each by donors to help cover he construction costs. Their names are inscribed on a step riser. The deck is used during the day to observe the grounds and ponds of the ELC and occasionally for solar observing.

    The Observatory was finished and opened to the public in time to view the partial solar eclipse on March 7, 1989.

    In 1999, the observatory was temporarily closed for major renovation. Thanks to the generosity of the local community, it was reopened two years later. Over $160,000 of donated materials and services resulted in a new deck structure, warming hut, and stairs. Harld Haggart’s original dome still rests atop the new structure.

    The Observatory is really made up of two structures nestled inside each other.  The main structure, comprising the dome, observation deck, and stairway, is supported on a ring of eight power poles. The second structure is the concrete column and base which is located in the center of the Observatory and supports only the telescope. These two structures never touch, keeping the telescope steady even when people are walking around and causing the main structure to vibrate or sway.