Portland September 01, 2017
Most People Don’t Know The Story Behind This Abandoned Town Near Portland
This abandoned town lies between Oregon City and Salem, and at one time was an important community and home to the first provisional government of Oregon City. Settled in the 1840s, Champoeg is now home to a state park, and a great place to explore the early history of the Willamette Valley.
Located on the south bank of the Willamette River, Champoeg is about 5 miles south of Newberg.
What was once a thriving community, is today home to the Champoeg State Heritage Area, as well as the Champoeg State Park Historic Archeological District.
Home to the Wolf Meetings in the 1840s, Champoeg residents, led by elected chairman and missionary Jason Lee, began a series of lectures discussing what to do about wolves that continued to cause problems in the community.
By the middle of the 1840s, a group of nine representatives were charged with creating a provisional government in Champoeg and a petition was sent to the United States Congress.
The Oregon Treaty was settled in 1846, however, and Champoeg was not named as the capital.
At its height, the city had expanded to include a ferry across the Willamette, a granary owned by Hudson's Bay Company, and a landing for a steamboat. The city consisted of 16 streets and continued to grow.
However, in 1861, the Willamette River flooded and covered the city in 7 feet of water, effectively destroying many of the structures of the city. Settlers fled to the Newell House, on higher ground, and though they survived, the town was never rebuilt.
Today the park is well known for camping, biking, and hiking, and has been excavated many times over the years. Here, in this picture, dated 1975, archaeologists excavate beads from the old Champoeg townsite. The most important find on the site is an early homesite, thought to be Robert Newell's original homesite.
Since 1984, Champoeg State Park Historic Archeological District has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. History lovers will enjoy walking through this historic area. A 1901 monument lists the names of the 52 original settlers who voted on establishing a provisional government in 1843, and a museum allows you to explore the history further.
Have you been to Champoeg State Heritage Area? What is your favorite thing to do there? Let us know in the comments below.