Willamette Valley Heritage; Barns and Structures

Fairview Training Center becomes Pringle Creek Community

Perhaps one of the most interesting endeavors I’ve seen local businesses and residents merge to accomplish is the Pringle Creek Community. It is as green a thing as a thing can get, as far as I can tell. It is an area with green streets, green buildings, green trees.


This community is currently 32 acres, but slated to become larger as the old Fairview buildings are removed. The streets are named after some of the better known nature advocates; John Muir, Jane Goodall, Jack Cousteau, John Audobon, and are paved by green street methods which include porous asphalt, gravel shoulders, bioswales, drainage courses, and rain gardens at each intersection, all aiding in filtering rainwater runoff.



A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village


Photo by M.O. Stevens – Own work, CC BY 3.0,


The A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village in Salem is an exciting place for both young and old to visit. As the name implies, there are a lot of areas to explore within the confines of the “village,” and there are many experiments and projects to entertain and educate all. From building sandcastles, pretending to be a veterinarian, building a fort or playing on a life-size erector set, this place can keep people enthralled for hours on end.


Now, as for who A.C. Gilbert was, please read this wonderful piece posted at Offbeat Oregon:

“When Salem native Alfred Carlton Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set, learned that government officials were going to cancel Christmas with their “Buy Bonds, Not Toys” campaign, he went to Washington to change their minds.”

Sam Brown House


A couple of years ago I took a picture of the barn, (“The Willows”) on the Sam Brown House property and posted it in one of the “Oregon” groups I enjoy on FB. One of the commenters mentioned that she had just photographed the house on that property and that she didn’t even notice there was a barn near it.

I hadn’t even noticed there was a house!

I finally made it back over there yesterday and found that, yes indeed there is a house. It is the Sam Brown House which is waiting urgently (not patiently as can seen from the above photo) for restoration.

Also, you can see in the above photo that there is indeed a barn on that property as well.

Information about the upcoming restoration and how to donate to the restoration can be found here.



A Beautiful Memorial

This is a memorial resting on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital. Housed within this revamped BLDG 60 are over 3,000 copper urns which were moved around for many years on the Hospital grounds until finally resting within the walls of this building. At one time, building 40 was used to quarantine the terminally ill patients.


Three sides of the memorial are surrounded by a wall which holds newer urns. Names and dates of birth and death, if known, are engraved on the caps of the urns. When a family claims the cremains, a copper tube is placed in the space to commemorate the homecoming.


Below is a closer view of the copper canisters which stored the cremations prior to their being placed in the ceramic urns, then in the wall.



This is some of the wire artwork that surrounds the structure. Copper tubes replace the ceramic canisters when a family member is claimed.






Preventing Valley Floods (mostly)


There are thirteen dams which make up what is known as the Willamette Valley Project; a series of dams built and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is these dams which prevent (most years) the flooding of the Willamette River we knew in the past. From Cottage Grove to Detroit, these dams are:

Cottage Grove



Hills Creek

Lookout Point


Fall Creek

Fern Ridge



Blue River



Green Peter




and Big Cliff


Thanks to the work of these magnificent regulators of the currents which run into the Willamette River, the Valley floor has seen a lot less flooding than it used to.

If you are so inclined, enjoy this article expounding on the benefits of the dams. dams on the willamette’s tributaries.

She Celebrated Nature’s Cathedral

Perhaps some of the most majestic structures of the Willamette Valley are those that are home to nature’s creatures and plants. In the early 20th Century it was a precocious 5 year old in the Cottage Grove area who began to put such ideas to paper, but it wasn’t until Benjamin Hoff, of Tao of Pooh fame, explored and delivered an engaging biography of this girl genius that we could truly appreciate Opal Whiteley’s acumen.


Benjamin Hoff’s biography of fellow Oregonian and nature lover, Opal Whiteley, has aided in dispelling many myths concerning Whiteley’s mental stability while, adding credence to many of her early fanciful claims. Web sites, memorials, parks, and books about Whiteley have become popular in recent years and she is becoming one of the more intriguing literary figures of the 20th century. So many, many, questions spring from her writings and lectures. Was she schizophrenic?  Adopted? A genius? Did she talk to fairies among the fir forests surrounding her home near Cottage Grove? It is entirely possible that a more interesting, multi-layered individual may not have ever graced the natural cathedrals of the Willamette Valley.

Steve McQuiddy has written a nice piece about Whiteley which can be downloaded here, and the University of Oregon maintains a fantastic web site which contains Whiteley’s complete diary here. Cottage Grove maintains  The Opal Center, a venue operating within the strictures of Whiteley’s philosophy of art/nature/knowledge accessibility to all. The Cottage Grove Historical Society has a concise yet excellent bio of Whiteley on their websiteopal_whiteley

Walking Tour of Willamette Oregon



It doesn’t look as if  West Linn Oregon is technically in the Willamette Valley. Because West Linn and Oregon City are sooo very close to the Willamette Valley, I am going to include them on this WV blog just this once. There is a historical section of that area which used to be the town of Willamette Falls, a name that was shortened to Willamette at some point. There are many historic buildings to see, as well as a historic meteorite  (replica).

Just take a look at the brochure liked below and see if Willamette doesn’t make it’s way onto your bucket list.


Poems From Old Champoeg

Having just renewed my library card (I have a fee based card on account of living outside the city limits), I went wild over at the shelving area known as the Hugh Morrow section. Okay, it was a toned-down wild, as I was in the library for goodness sakes.

I brought home a lot of books. Some with maps, some with newspaper clippings, some with old photographs, etc. All those kinds of books that history buffs like to read.

I found something that surprised me while I was handling every book I could on those book shelves. I found a book of poetry. Poems about Oregon. Poems about History. Poems about…the history of the Willamette Valley!!!

I have read this book, and plan to read it again before I return it. I would actually like to buy a copy, but can’t find it anywhere. I don’t know how many were printed, and all I can find out about it is that it was self published by Clinton Frederick Blake in 1925, but I believe the author used a pen name. I will surely search the records, if at all possible, of the sources that the author mentions, but so far I have come up with no leads about this book or the author. I wonder why the poets were not named, because in the one edition of “The Lariat (1927, volumes 9-10)” that I found online, the poets were indeed mentioned. Of course, the poems from “The Poems from Old Champoeg” were not in that particular volume of the “The Lariat;” they are from a previous edition.

This book is a curiosity indeed!

Please, read and enjoy this book.





This year I intended to chronicle the 13 dams that make up The Willamette Valley Project. I made it to two, which means that I have eleven to go and only two months to do it (Not counting the Scoggins dam which is part the Tualitin River reclamation project).

Dorena Dam, Fall 2016dsc_0160


Fern Ridge Dam, Spring 2016dsc_0523


Cottage Grove Dam,


Detroit – date

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