Barlow House

In 1845 when Samuel K. Barlow and his party traveled over the Oregon Trail, Barlow decided to find a better way between The Dalles and the Willamette Valley than the route pioneers were currently using, which was to float down the treacherous Columbia River. He scouted a route up and over the Cascade Mountains and the road he established became known as the Barlow Road.

Samuel Barlow
Samuel K. Barlow (Wikipedia)

In 1850 Sam Barlow purchased land from Thomas McKay, a former employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Sometime during the 1850s, Sam’s son William bought his father’s farm, and Sam moved from his farm to Canemah, near Oregon City, where he died in 1867. In 1859 two rows of black walnut trees were planted from the farmhouse to the road. They were the first black walnuts planted in Oregon.

William Barlow
William Barlow (Find A Grave)

During William’s tenure a community grew up near the farm. When the railroad came through in 1870 a station was built nearby and named after him. The growing community would eventually become the town of Barlow (incorporated in 1903). William Barlow started a sawmill, a grist mill, the first post office, and the Barlow Bank and Land Development Company.

The house that had stood on the property burned down around 1883. In 1885 William built a house on the same spot in the Victorian Italianate style, which was popular from the 1860s through the 1880s.

Barlow House
Barlow House, date unknown (Rootsweb)

The house passed to William’s daughter Mary in 1896, and it was later sold out of the family in 1906. William died in 1904 at the age of 81.

William Barlow House in 1976 (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and still stands as a prominent landmark along Highway 99E in Barlow.

Barlow House in 2012

Location of William Barlow House:

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Linn City

Robert Moore was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1781. In 1805 he married Margaret Clark and together they later moved to Illinois. In 1839 they headed west on the Oregon Trail with the Peoria party and arrived in Oregon City in 1840. He negotiated the purchase of a 1,000 acre site from Chief Wanaxha of the Wallamut Indians. The site was on the west bank of the Willamette River, directly across from Oregon City, the territorial capital at the time.

In 1843 he established a community on his land and called it Robin’s Nest. According to Oregon Geographic Names,

On December 20, 1945, Ernest E. East of the Illinois State Historical Society wrote Miss Nellie B. Pipes of the Oregon Historical Society as follows: “It is not impossible that Robert Moore got the poetic inspiration for ‘Robin’s Nest’ from the name of the log house in which lived Philander Chase, first bishop of the diocese of Illinois, Protestant Episcopal Church. Chase bought land in the valley of Kickapoo Creek about 12 miles west of Peoria and established Jubilee College. His first house was called ‘Robin’s Nest,’ because, as he said, it was ‘built of mud and sticks, and filled with young ones.’”

The photo below was taken from the bluffs on the east side of the river and shows Oregon City in the foreground and Linn City in the background.

Lorenzo Lorain photograph of early Oregon City
Oregon City and Linn City, 1857 (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

By 1845 the town had two log houses and a large number of tents occupied by settlers who had arrived the previous autumn. On December 22, 1845 Robin’s Nest was renamed Linn City in honor of Senator Lewis F. Linn of Missouri. (Linn was a friend of Moore’s and and later authored the Donation Land Act of 1850.)

Lewis Fields Linn
Lewis F. Linn (Wikipedia)

In 1846, about 15 houses were occupied by mechanics, men employed in Moore’s flour and lumber mills, and men worked on the ferry that Moore had established as a connection to Oregon City. Linn City was home to the Oregon Milling and Transportation Company, which built a sawmill, gristmill, a warehouse, and wharves. There was a breakwater to allow boats to load and unload cargo, making Linn City a major transportation center on the river. By 1850 Linn City had a post office, hotel, and two general stores.

Linn City and Oregon City in 1858
This 1858 drawing shows Linn City in the foreground and Oregon City in the background (The Centennial history of Oregon, 1811-1912)

On September 2, 1857, Robert Moore died before he could fulfill his dream of making Linn City a thriving and prosperous town. According to the 1860 census, the population of  Linn City was just 225 people. Disaster struck twice in 1861. On April 23 a disastrous fire destroyed the mills, warehouse, and the steamer James Clinton. An Oregonian article on April 25 described the blaze:

Business owners in the community refused to give up, however, and men started rebuilding what had been lost. Then in December a catastrophic flood swept through. Here’s how the flood was described in the Oregon Historical Quarterly:

The flood of December 1861 washed clean the rocky banks of both sides of the Willamette just above and below the falls and inundated the entire Willamette Valley. It swept the flouring mills of Daniel Harvey and James Guthrie, the machine shop of Moore & Marshall, the Linn City warehouse and basin owned by Colonel James K. Kelly and Robert Pentland, Abernethy’s pioneer brick store and two hotels on the Oregon City rock bank of the river, and carried away to destruction every structure and building in the neighborhood of the falls. On December 5, the steam flatboat St. Clair, Captain S. R. Smith and Engineer Alonzo Vickers, passed over the falls, close to the Oregon City side, the river having swelled to the condition of navigable rapids. It was estimated at the time that below the falls the river had risen 75 feet. The trip of Smith and Vickers is notable, as they were the only persons who ever came over the falls of the Willamette in a boat under steam.

Only two houses and a warehouse still stood after the flood waters had receded. Linn City had been wiped clear off the earth. Residents admitted defeat and the town was not rebuilt. The photo below shows Willamette Falls, the Oregon City Paper Mill, and the west bank of the river where Linn City once stood.

Willamette Falls area, 1867 (Clackamas County Historical Society)

Over time people started trickling back. The Willamette Falls Locks were built at the former site of Linn City in the 1870s, and the Crown-Zellerbach Pulp and Paper Company established its mill near the locks in 1889. Houses started appearing on the west bank of the river, albeit on high ground this time. In 1913 West Linn was incorporated as a city.

Former location of Linn City:

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Francis Ermatinger House

The Francis Ermatinger House is the oldest house in Oregon City and the third oldest house in the state of Oregon. In the photo below (a Lorenzo Loran photo that was the first ever taken of Oregon City) the house can be seen.

Oregon City
Flat-roofed Ermatinger House circled in this 1857 Oregon City photo (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

Francis Ermatinger was born in Portugal in 1798. He began working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1818, and came to the Oregon Territory in 1825 to work for John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver. In 1841 Francis married Catherine Sinclair, who was Mrs. McLoughlin’s granddaughter.

Francis Ermatinger
Francis Ermatinger (Oregon Pioneers)

After Ermatinger was promoted to chief trader he managed the Hudson’s Bay Company store in Oregon City from 1844 to 1845. Dr.McLoughlin deeded land to Ermatinger in 1844, who had a house built there in 1845. The house was built in the Federal Style with a flat tin roof. He only lived there a short time, though, since he was transferred back to England in 1846. (He died in Ontario, Canada in 1858.)

Francis Ermatinger House in 1910
The Ermatinger House at its original location in 1910, before it was moved to Center Street (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

It was in this house that Portland got its name, or so the story goes. In 1845 during a dinner party at the house Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy disagreed about what to call the town that was going to be built on their land claim downstream from Oregon City. Pettygrove wanted it to be called Portland after his hometown in Maine. Lovejoy wanted it to be called Boston, after HIS hometown. Pettygrove won two of the three tosses.

Pettygrove    Lovejoy
Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy (Find a Grave)

The riverfront portion of Oregon City had become a busy downtown area, so in 1910 the house was moved from its original location on McLoughlin Blvd to Center Street. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, then purchased by Ruth McBride Powers in 1986.

Francis Ermatinger House
The Ermatinger House at its Center Street location (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

She had the house moved to a lot on 6th Street and the house was restored and converted into a museum. A unique feature of the house is its original flat tin roof which is still intact under the present hipped roof that was added sometime before the turn of the century.

The museum was closed to the public in November 2010 because of structural problems and in May 2011 the Historic Preservation League of Oregon named the house as one of the state’s most endangered buildings. In February 2012 Oregon City commissioners approved a $65,000 contract with Architectural Resources Group to prepare plans for rehabilitation of the house.

Francis Ermatinger House
The Ermatinger House in 2012

Francis Ermatinger House
The Ermatinger House in 2012

Location of the Francis Ermatinger House:

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West Linn City Hall

Prior to 1936, West Linn’s city offices were housed in one room of the train station for the Willamette Falls Railway.

West Linn Trolley Station and City Hall
Willamette Falls Railway station, c1909 (Historic Photo Archive)

The interurban line was shut down in 1930 and the station torn down in 1936 to make way for a new building that would become the City Hall. It was a Works Progress Administration project. When the new building was dedicated by Mayor Frank A. Hammerle in 1936, the city’s population was just 2,000.

West Linn City Hall, c1936 (Old Oregon Photos)

The ground floor housed a grocery store run by Bud Heath and a post office. Municipal offices were upstairs, as well as the library when it opened in 1939.

West Linn City Hall
West Linn City Hall, c1983 (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

The post office got its own building and moved out in 1956, and the police department took over the entire ground floor. In 1979 the library moved into bigger quarters at the Bolton Fire Station. In 1999 the building was decommission as City Hall and turned wholly over to the police department. The various city offices that had been scattered amongst various buildings moved into the new City Hall on Salamo Road.

New West Linn City Hall
Current City Hall on Salamo Road

The West Linn Police Department still occupies the old brick building, although a new police station is in the process of being built and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014.

Old West Linn City Hall
The old City Hall in 2012, still occupied by the police department

Location of the old West Linn City Hall and current police department:

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Asa Sanders House

Abby and Asa Sanders moved from Connecticut to Oregon in the early 1850s. In 1858 they bought more than half of the Mathias Sweigle land claim, which had been one of the earliest donation land claims in the Molalla area. The Sanders made their living growing wheat and fruit. Asa, Abby, and several infants are buried in a family cemetery on the property.

They built this house on their land in 1878. The unique-looking house features cathedral-style windows on both sides of the second floor.

Asa Sanders House
Asa Sanders House, date unknown (Oregon State Library)

Asa Sanders House
Asa Sanders House, c1984 (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

The house still stands, but it is hidden behind a wall of vegetation. All that can be seen from the road is a bit of the front door at the end of a long driveway.

Driveway to the Asa Sanders House in 2012

Front door of the Asa Sanders House in 2012, courtesy of a zoom lens

West Linn Inn

The West Linn Inn was built in 1918 by the Crown Zellerbach Corporation. Stories differ about the original purpose of the place. One story says that it was built to provide homes for the mill employees as well as other workers in West Linn. Another story says it was built to house strikebreakers that were brought in when mill employees tried to unionize.

This postcard shows the inn from Oregon City, probably around 1950 (

As the town grew and the workers found homes in the area, the building’s 85 rooms were opened to the public as hotel rooms. The large lobby had terrazzo marble floors and a huge stone fireplace, and there was a bowling alley in the basement. A long veranda overlooked the river with views of Willamette Falls, the mills, and Oregon City.

West Linn Inn as seen from Oregon City, date unknown (Bolton Walking Tour)

The hotel shut down in July 1972, although dining and banquet service continued to be offered for another few years. But eventually the owners realized they could either spend a lot of money renovating the old building or shut the place down. The West Linn Inn closed its doors in the early 1980s and was soon demolished.

The photo below shows the intersection of 5th and Main in Oregon City with the West Linn Inn in the background at right. This photo was probably taken from the railroad tracks above the tunnel on McLoughlin Blvd.

Oregon City and the West Linn Inn, c1939 (Oregon State Archives)

The next photo shows the same scene about 20 years later. This one appears to have been taken from the bluff behind High Street in Oregon City.

Oregon City and the West Linn Inn, c1960 (This Week in OC blog)

Compare the photo above with the photo below, taken in 2012. The hotel has been gone for 30 years and many of the buildings in Oregon City are gone or significantly altered from the 1960 photograph.

View of West Linn from Oregon City in 2012

Former location of West Linn Inn:

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Fields Bridge

In 1850 Joseph Fields filed a donation land claim along the Tualatin River in what is now the West Linn area. He owned the land on both sides of the river and in 1853 purchased a $5 license to operate a ferry at this spot, which he did until the first bridge was built. A covered bridge was built across the river around 1862, possibly by Joseph Fields himself. According to Bosky Dell, another bridge was built in 1866, but destroyed in the flood of 1890. In 1891 a windowless covered bridge was built. A fourth covered bridge, this one with windows, was built around 1923. The photo below was taken around 1925.

Fields Bridge
Fields Bridge, c1925 (ODOT)

Fields Bridge
Fields Bridge, 1946 (Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections)

This final covered bridge was removed around 1953 when a new concrete span was constructed on Borland Road. In 2010 that bridge – which had become structurally deficient – was replaced with a new $6.4 million, 300-foot-long, 52-foot-wide bridge. In 2005 the City of West Linn developed the new Fields Bridge Park south of the road near the bridge.

Fields Bridge
Fields Bridge in 2012

Where Dollar Street dead-ends at the Tualatin River, just a few feet from the bridge, there’s an old stone memorial to someone named Klaus Beckman.

Klaus Beckman killed 3PM May 6 1875 Explosion Str. Senator Buried 133 ft. N. May 25, 1875 Wife Kate son Fred survived 7 crewmen died 12 mi. N Willamette R.
Klaus Beckman memorial, 2012

On May 6, 1875, Klaus Beckman was traveling on the steamboat Senator as it docked along the Willamette River near SW Alder Street in Portland. The boiler on the boat exploded, scattering debris and people up and down the river. Beckman was one of six men who were missing and presumed dead. His body was finally found on May 23, and it is presumed that he was buried in a small Fields family cemetery near Fields Bridge on May 25, hence this stone marker.

Location of Fields Bridge in West Linn:

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Church of the Annunciation

In 1946 a log-cabin-style church with knotty pine paneling, gothic beams, and a 40-foot steeple was built in Milwaukie, at 2615 Harrison Street. The church was beautifully situated amongst the trees near Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake Church
Crystal Lake Church, c1983 (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office)

After membership declined, Crystal Lake Church closed in 1986. A developer bought the land to build an apartment complex there, but rather than tear down the church the developer donated it to the Holy Order of MANS, a 60-member congregation that had been renting space on NW Overton Street in Portland. The church was moved to a temporary location on 37th Avenue until the congregation had found a suitable new home for it. In 1987 they purchased land on Rusk Road and moved the church to the site, where it still is today.

In 1995 the congregation was accepted into the Eastern Orthodox Church and became Church of the Annunciation. Although two miles away from its original location, the 65-year-old church is still in a pretty setting, surrounded by green parkland and trees.

Church of the Annunciation

Church of the Annunciation


Location of Church of the Annunciation in Milwaukie:

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