History of the Haggart
Located at the John Inskeep Environmental
Learning Center of Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, Oregon and
managed by the Rose City Astronomers
The 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
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 Clackamas
Community College (CCC) for the donation of the dome and dome drive
assembly. The dome and drive, constructed in 1948 by Mr. Haggart,
features hand-cut and crimped wedge-shaped wall pieces, and still is
weather tight and in perfect working order.
Construction of the Haggart
Observatory began in the summer of 1988 within the Environmental
Learning Center (ELC) on the CCC campus. Lee Engineering of Oregon
City designed the basic structure as a public service project.
Coast Crane of Portland donated the use of a crane to lift the dome
onto a truck for transport to CCC.
Design details of the observatory
underwent many changes even as the structure was being built. The
result is an observing area 45 feet above the ground (to put it above
the level of trees on the ELC grounds) reached by a circular stairway
and surrounded by a 6 foot wide deck. A total of 32 steps in the
stairway were "sold" for $250 to donors to cover construction costs.
The name of each buyer is inscribed on a step riser. The Observatory
was finished and opened to the public in time to view a partial solar
eclipse on March 7, 1989.
In 1999, rotting timbers were discovered in
the main deck structure. The observatory was subsequently closed to the
public for major renovation. Nearly two years later, the observatory
re-opened. Thanks to over $160,000 in donations from local businesses and
individuals, the deck structure, warming hut, and stairs were rebuilt.
Harold Haggart's original dome still rests atop the new structure.
There are really two structures nested
inside each other that make up the Observatory. The main structure,
comprising the dome, observation deck, and stairway, is supported on a
ring of eight power poles. The second structure is a concrete pier located
in the center of the Observatory that 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.
Recycling and Sustainable
Building At the Observatory
Recycled materials were used extensively in
both the original construction and the renovation.
The supporting power poles were salvaged
from a Portland General Electric substation in Welches and transported to
the site by ELC staff.
Most of the original framing timbers in the
main structure were recovered from the burned remains of the old Smuckers
Jelly Cannery (now the site of the Clackamas Community College Art
The flooring in the dome and metal struts
supporting the telescope mount came from bleachers discarded by CCC.
The deck hand railing is made from 100%
post-consumer recycled plastic (milk jugs!).
The spiral stair rails are a plastic/wood
The new deck is steel; the warming hut is
sided with corrugated steel.
The flooring in the lower room is made from
shredded and recycled tires.
Other information about
If you have any further
question, contact the RCA Haggart Observatory Coordinator via email: