Atlantis Arisen/Chapter 8
OTHER TOWNS OF THE WALLAMET VALLEY.
Proceeding up the Wallamet, we come in about six miles to Oswego, the seat of the Oregon Iron- and Steel-Works, a busy little place on the west bank. Nearly opposite is Milwaukee, famous for having been the place where the first nursery of the Pacific coast was planted, on the grounds of Meek and Lluelling. The young trees were brought across the continent in a wagon-box filled with earth. The earliest export of this fruit was made in 1853 to San Francisco, where two hundred pounds brought five hundred dollars. The same firm sold the following year forty bushels of apples for sixty-two dollars and fifty cents per bushel. “The land of red apples” and “the land of cider” are still synonymes for the Wallamet Valley among Californians. Milwaukee was also noted for the flour produced there, but as a town it has no development.
About three miles above Milwaukee, on the east side, there comes in the Clackamas river, the lowest tributary of the Wallamet, and nearly opposite the Tualatin. There is a fish hatchery on the Clackamas where between five and six million eggs were taken in 1890, most of which will be fish. Above here another three miles are the Falls of the Wallamet, and Oregon City, built upon a bed of solid basalt, a ledge of which extends quite across the river, cropping out on the other side. This ledge is about twenty feet higher than the surface of the river below the fall, and is broken into a ragged crescent with rather a sharp angle in the middle, where the water deflects towards the western shore. In low or ordinary stage of water the stream divides into several parts, seeking the deepest channels in the rocks, and forming a number of different cataracts; yet the central one, at the angle spoken of, is always the principal one. Above the falls the river parts, flowing around an island of rock, on which once stood a mill belonging to the Methodist Mission, but which was carried away in the great flood of 1862, along with numerous other buildings from the mainland.
The current, always strong just above the falls, is terrific when the heavy rains of winter have swollen all the tributaries of the river, and filled its banks with a rushing torrent fifteen to twenty feet in depth. At such times the rocks are mostly hidden, and the falls extend from shore to shore, or about a quarter of a mile.
The Falls of the Wallamet constitute the great water-power of the State. The favorite term for Oregon City is, “ The Lowell of the Pacific Coast and there is indeed every natural agency here for the making of a second Lowell. One of the largest woollen-mills of the State is located here. It is built substantially of stone and brick, four stories high, and one hundred and ninety by sixty feet in ground area, and contains twelve sets of the most improved machinery. Its manufactures are blankets, flannels, and cassimeres and light cloths. The “ Imperial” flouring-mill, and another custom mill, a saw-mill, a box-factory, paper-mill, and the Portland Electric-Light Power- House are located here. An important work has been performed here, nftmely, the construction of locks on the west side of the falls, by which boats may pass up and down without transshipment, which for many years was necessary. However, as the government fails to keep a boat on the upper river with apparatus for removing sand-bars and snags, the benefit to the State of these locks for half the year, at least, is lost.
If one is informed of the history of this region, he may step aside from the main street of Oregon City, and in the enclosure about the Catholic church read on a modest head-stone: u Hr. John McLoughlin, died Sept. 3d, 1857, aged 73 years. The Pioneer and Friend of Oregon. Also the Founder of this City.”
From Oregon City, for a distance of more than fifty miles by the river, there are no towns of any importance, though there are numerous “ landings,” where freight is put on or off for various places in the interior, indicating that there is a considerable population scattered through the valley. About eleven miles above Oregon City the Molalla enters the Wallamet, near the mouth of which was Champoeg, the oldest settlement in the valley. The river here makes a bend to the west and receives the Yamhill River. South of this bend was where the French Canadians had their farms as early as 1829. As might be ex
peeted, it is in a fertile and desirable location, yet has never become a business centre. Here it was that the “ Organic Laws” were adopted by a majority of the Oregon settlers, in May, 1843, and a provisional government erected, to last until such time as the United States government should see fit to acknowledge Oregon as one of her Territories. There is also a memorable spot twelve miles below Salem, on the east bank, where the Methodist Mission made its first location in 1834, this being the very first American settlement in the Wallamet Valley. Here, too, in 1843, after the acceptance of the Organic Laws, was held the first Legislative Assembly of nine persons, their Council Chamber being a public room in a building belonging to the mission, known as “The Granary.” Subsequently the Legislature removed its sessions to Oregon City. The high- water of 1862 carried away a portion of the old mission ground, which was on the bank of the river, where the open prairie approaches quite to it.
While we are overcoming the last twelve miles of quiet voyaging between the “ Old Mission” and Salem, we maj’ as well consider their relationship. In the autumn of 1840 the Methodist Mission built a mill on a stream twelve miles south of their first establishment, at a place called by the Indians Chemeketa, and, finding the situation every way a better one than that, removed the mission to it in the following year. The first dwelling was erected at some distance back from the river, on the bank of a stream known as Mill Creek, in a very pleasant and convenient location, with an extensive plain on one hand, and a charmingly wooded, rolling landscape on the other. In 1843 the large frame building, for many years known as “ The Institute,” was erected, as a school for Indian children, but, the savages not taking very kindly to study, the mission was dissolved in 1844, after which time the Oregon Institute became a seminary of learning for whoever chose to patronize it, although it still remained under the control of the Methodist denomination, and was converted ultimately into a university.
Upon the sale of the mission property, the town-site of Salem was laid out by Mr. W. H. Wilson, and received its present name. It is very handsomely located upon a gravelly prairie, rising gradually back from the river, which is skirted with groves of tall trees. Other groves of firs and oaks relieve the level monotony of the landscape for a couple of miles away to the north and east; while the hills across Mill Creek are wooded like parks, with a variety of trees. Across the Wallamet, and fronting the town, is a range of high land called the "Polk County Hills," which makes the greatest charm of the whole view of Salem. In outline and coloring, these hills are poetically beautiful. The town is placed in a setting of the Polk County Hills to the west, the "Waldo Hills" (another arable range) to the southeast, the Blue Cascade Range with its overtopping snow-peaks to the northeast, groves of fine, large oaks and firs breaking the middle distance; while immediately about us are level farms and fields of waving grain, with a substantial farm-house, here and there, in their midst.
The residence part of Salem is comfortably built, with an air of stability and propriety about it. The streets are wide, the lots large, and the dwellings neat, often handsome, with well-kept gardens attached. Shade-trees—locust and maple—line the broad avenues, and the public square is of liberal proportions, promising "lungs" to the city, should it grow large enough to need this breathing-space in its midst. The business-houses are handsome and commodious, and the public edifices are numerous and costly. The city has about twelve thousand inhabitants.
Salem is the county-seat of Marion County, as well as the capital of the State. By the constitution of Oregon the State buildings are all located at the capital. The county court-house, which occupies a square, was erected at a cost of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The State-house, not yet entirely finished, has cost so far seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The State insane asylum is a magnificent structure, with accommodations for one thousand patients. The State penitentiary, school for deaf and mute children, school for the blind, and State Reform School are all worthy of this commonwealth.
The Willamette University, the outgrowth of the Oregon Institute, is a prosperous sectarian school, with an average attendance of three hundred of both sexes. The Catholics also have a school for young ladies at this place. The public high-school is a fine building, and the thirteen churches of different denominations give evidence of the prosperity of these organizations.
The great flood of the winter of 1889–90 carried away a fine bridge which connected the city with the country opposite, but it is being replaced by one more costly. An excellent water-power is furnished by a canal, only about one-third of which is utilized by two large flouring-mills, a fifty-thousand-dollar woollen-mill, lumber-mills, and sash- and door-factories. The wages paid to operatives in the different industries is three hundred thousand dollars per annum. The city is furnished with water-works and street-car lines; has the navigable river on its front, and the Southern Pacific at its back; and will soon, it is believed, be connected by railroad with Astoria by the sea.
Of the two or more newspapers published in Salem, the Statesman is the eldest. In the early history of the State it was a power, ably conducted, and unrelentingly Democratic. Its founder is at present a banker in this city and a "bloated bondholder," but delights in reminiscences of the time when the Statesman ruled Oregon. Its files contain a complete history of the State for ten years,—from 1851 to 1861. Salem has no public library, even the State library being sadly deficient, and the State archives needing care.
It is needless to say, that with all the advantages named, Salem is the centre of a wealthy and important section of the Wallamet Yalley. There are eighteen or twenty small towns in Marion County, each the centre of a farming community.
The government has an Indian school at Chemawa, a few miles north of Salem, where the sons and daughters of Indian parents are trained for civilized life. There are a number of buildings of a modern appearance, and a farm and orchard under improvement. The superintendent reports to the government the condition of his charge, and I believe the scheme is reasonably successful, considering the antecedents of the pupils.
About twenty miles above Salem the Wallamet receives the Santiam River, which separates Marion from Linn County. The county-seat of Linn is Albany, ten miles farther south, which is at the head of low-water navigation. Between Salem and Albany are several small places, chiefly on the west side of the river. Buena Vista is a thriving place, and manufactures and manufactures
common pottery. Monmouth is the seat of a denominational college, and also the State normal school. Warehouses and shipping points are frequent along this portion of the river, for the Wallamet here borders some of the most famous grain-raising counties.
The Calapooia Biver enters the Wallamet at Albany, on the east side. This stream furnishes fine water-power up in the foot-hills, where two towns—North and South Brownsville—are located. The former is a manufacturing place, having a woollen- mill, a flouring-mill, a planing-mill, and a tannery, besides machine-shops and other similar establishments.
Albany was laid out as a town site in 1848, by two brothers, Thomas and Walter Monteith. All that has been said of Salem as a well located and well-built town applies equally to Albany, which is the third in importance in the Wallamet Yalley, if not the second, this being a mooted question between the two cities. As a manufacturing place it surpasses its rival. Its waterpower is obtained by a canal from the Santiam, costing sixty thousand dollars, several mills and the electric-light plant being worked by this power. Like Salem, it is on the line of the Southern Pacific, with a railroad assured to Astoria, and is on the line of the Oregon Pacific.
There are many pleasant drives and resorts about Albany, and a fine view of that beautiful group of snow-peaks, the Three Sisters. Although there is much level prairie, there are also buttes and ridges so disposed about the valley as to give a charming variety to an otherwise monotonous landscape. Sweet Home Yalley is an oval shaped paradise surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, and facing the Santiam.
Lebanon, on the south fork of the Santiam, is a delightful spot, in the midst of a fine farming country. A few miles above Lebanon, at the falls of the Santiam, is Silverton, another small town, with flouring- and lumber-mills. Both of these places are the centres of a healthy business, dependent on agriculture and manufactures.
Gatesville, on the line of the Oregon Pacific, is the base of supplies for the Santiam mining district. King’s Prairie, opposite Gatesville, is a thrifty farming settlement, and surrounded by fine timber, which several mills are doing their b est to con-
sume. Halsey, on the line of the Southern Pacific, ships annually nearly three hundred thousand bushels of grain, and is a flourishing town.
Above Albany the pine-tree begins to appear, mixed with the fir, along the river-banks. The groves of timber are more scattering, and the country more level and open. Except the ash, maple, alder, and willow of the river-bottoms, there is little forest; but the isolated trees of pine, fir, and oak which beautify the plains are of the handsomest proportions.
Corvallis, a dozen miles above Albany, on the west side of the river, is about the same age with it. It first proprietor was J. C. Avery, by whom it was incorporated in 1857. The situation of Corvallis is remarkably handsome, having the river on one side of it, and the Coast Eange sufficiently near it on the other to give the landscape the look of being framed in a semicircle of hills. Its name, Corvallis, a corruption of coeur de vallee .— heart of the valley,—was given to it before Mr. Avery ever saw it. He called his town site Marysville, but, there being another Marysville on the California mail-route, the name was dropped, and the more significant one restored. This pretty little city is the seat of government of Benton County, which also has a seaport town, namely Newport, at Yaquina Bay, which is the initial point of the Oregon Pacific Bailroad, and also a popular summer resort. A commodious hotel is all that Newport needs to bring many visitors there every season. At Seal Rock, eight miles south of Newport, about seventy persons can be accommodated in cottages.
The entrance to Yaquina Bay in its natural state was not good, there being not more than eight feet of water on the bar at low tide, and three nominal channels. The channel most used was rendered dangerous by the presence of rocks, and the shifting nature of the bar left none of them safe for navigation. In 1881 the government commenced the work of improving the middle channel by a jetty three thousand seven hundred feet in length, which in 1884 was extended to four thousand feet. Another jetty, on the north side, was constructed in 1888, two thousand three hundred feet in length, with the result that there is now nearly twelve feet of water on the bar at low tide. A line of steamers runs regularly between Newport and San Fran
cisco, connecting with the Oregon Pacific Railroad, greatly to the relief of the central and southern portions of the Wallamet Valley on the west side, which were without means of transportation. Corvallis labored energetically for twenty years to bring about this improvement in its business facilities, the reward of which determination it is beginning to enjoy.
The Oregon Development Company, concerned in these improvements, owns one steamer, the “ Willamet Valley,” and charters another, the “Farallon,” both drawing, loaded, about fourteen feet. Of course, they can enter only on full tide.
A steam-schooner, drawing eight feet, was employed last year in coasting between Yaquina and the river ports south, namely, Alseya and Sinslaw, carrying salmon, shingles, wool, hides, etc., to Yaquina, and taking general merchandise as return cargo. She made twenty-five trips, carrying fifty tons each way.
The total amount of imports by the company’s vessels during the year ending June 10, 1890, was eight thousand and three tons; and of exports, thirty-two thousand and eight tons, or forty thousand and seventy-four tons total carriage. The San Francisco line carried seven hundred and seventy-eight incoming and four hundred and fifty-six outgoing passengers, and had but one accident on the bar, when a heavy sea boarded the “ Farallon” and wmshed overboard five men, two of whom were lost. The steamer’s fires were put out, and she suffered damages which compelled her to return for repairs. A small steamer runs upon the waters of the bay.
I have been thus particular in giving the result of an enterprise which at first seemed unpromising, only to show what opportunities remain for development in a country so rich in resources. The Alseya Valley, in Benton County, has its own little seaport at the mouth of the Alseya River. The lower portion is heavily timbered, but where cleared produces abundant crops. It has, besides, mineral resources—coal in the mountains, and gold in the back-sands. The upper part of the valley, from one to three miles wide and twelve long, is mostly settled up with thrifty and industrious people.
The pass through the Coast Range, by which the Oregon Pacific comes to Corvallis, perceptibly affects the climate of
Benton County, giving it the benefit of a modified sea-breeze in the summer season. The State Agricultural College, with an endowment and considerable legislative aid, is located at Corvallis. The town is well built, and has a handsome court-house, being the county-seat. Like all Oregon towns, it has churches and schools without stint.
The face of the country in this portion of the valley is extremely picturesque and beautiful. The narrowing towards its head brings mountains, plains, and groves within the sweep of unassisted vision, and the whole resembles a grand picture. We have not here the heavy forests of the Columbia Biver region, nor even the frequently-recurring fir-groves of the middle sections. The foot-hills of the mountains approach within a few miles on either side, but those nearest the valley are rounded, grassy knolls, over which are scattered groups of firs, pines, or oaks, while the river-bottom is bordered with tall cotton-woods, and studded rather closely with pines of a lofty height and noble form.
Two tributaries enter the Wallamet between Corvallis and Eugene,—the Muddy, from the east, and Long Tom from the southwest. The country on the Long Tom is celebrated for its fertility, and for the uncompromising Democracy of its people. The school-master and the Black Bepubliean were in early times alike objects of aversion in that famous district. It is also claimed for Long Tom that it originated the term 11 Webfoot,” which is so universally applied to Oregonians by their California neighbors. The story runs as follows: A young couple from Missouri settled upon a land-claim on the banks of this river, and in due course of time a son and heir was born to them. A California “ commercial traveller,” chancing to stop with the happy parents overnight, made some jesting remarks upon the subject, warning them not to let the baby get drowned in the unusually extensive mud-puddles by which the premises were disfigured; when the father replied that they had looked out for that, and, uncovering the baby’s feet, astonished the joker by showing him that they were webbed. The sobriquet of Webfoot, having thus been attached to Oregon-born babies, has continued to be a favorite appellative ever since.
No inland town could have a prettier location than Eugene,
OTHER TOWNS OF THE WALLAMET VALLEY.
and few a more desirable one for other reasons. It has for a background Spencer’s Butte, so named in honor of the Secretary of State, in 1841, by Dr. White of the Methodist mission. At the head of the valley, it combines many advantages; Lane County, of which it is the county-seat, extending from the sea- coast to the Cascade Range, and including grain- and stock-lands, timber- and mineral-lands, with abundant water-power.
Eugene, with about four thousand inhabitants, is the seat of the University of Oregon, founded in 1872, and opened for the reception of students in 1876. Its affairs are managed by a board of regents appointed by the governor of the State for a term of twelve years. It has a permanent endowment of eighty thousand dollars, realized from the sale of lands granted by the general government for university purposes, and a fund of fifty thousand dollars donated by Mr. Henry Villard. It also receives an annual appropriation of five thousand dollars from the State. But there is need of more endowments to enable this to become what it should be, a place of universal education. Two handsome brick buildings, a growing library of valuable books, astronomical, surveying, and chemical apparatus constitute the present visible features of the institution, to which I would add, as not least, though last, the collection of Professor Thomas Condon, illustrating the geology, mineralogy, and natural history of the Northwest. This collection, the result of the labor of a lifetime, is already well known, and justly noted for laying open the pre-historic record of Oregon. Professor Condon is the discoverer of the dwarf fossil horse of Oregon, which is claimed by Eastern scientists, to whom he imparted his discovery.
Eugene is on the line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and has a good country trade. Undoubtedly railroads will be built to the mouth of the Siuslaw River, and into Southeastern Oregon, from this point. A road into the Klamath Yalley leads from here by the Diamond Peak pass.
Three miles east of Eugene is the town of Springfield, a thriving place, with flouring- and saw-mills, and several manufactories. Following up McKenzie’s Fork of the Wallamet to a branch called the Mohawk, we find a region cut off from the main valley by a range of hills, which is celebrated f natural beauties and advantages of superior climate, excellent water, rich prairies, and fine forest. It is being rapidly taken up by dairymen, fruit-farmers, and others. Fine water-power may be obtained in numerous places, owing to the rapid fall of the streams coming out of the mountains. A glance at the map will show the three principal forks of the Wallamet converging towards Eugene, each of which has tributaries with small lateral valleys that contain very choice tracts of land.
The amphitheatre of mountains, running down into the valley in long slopes and ridges, furnishes it with superior facilities for a great variety of manufactures which depend on wood, water, stone, and like materials. When these are to be found, together with a variety of good soils adapted to all branches of farming, there can be no doubt of the future of such a country. From every side the riches of these hills will glide down into the lap of that city.