The co-founder of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Eugene “Debbs” Potts, also built the Historic Pottsville Museum north of Merlin, Ore. He started work on the museum in 1959 in conjunction with the Oregon Centennial celebrations.
Potts once said, “I want to perpetuate a place where … poor man or rich can go to look at things for free, and maybe learn a little about Oregon history. People need to understand our past.” He built a replica of a small Oregon town of the early 1900s on the 30-acre site, and he continued to work on Pottsville until his death in 2003. He was born in 1908.
The outdoor display includes early 20th century logging equipment and farm machines, a stagecoach, a fleet of old cars and an ozone machine used in butcher shops before the availability of refrigeration.
Potts served in the U.S. Navy, was mayor of Grants Pass, Ore. from 1958 to 1960 and was an Oregon senator from 1960 to 1984. His portrait hangs in the Hall of Governors at the Capitol Building in Salem for serving as acting governor for 196 days during Tom McCall’s tenure.