Beaverton History Day is February 10th: The makings of a city
The road to Beaverton’s incorporation began in the valleys of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers with the great westward migration of the 1840s. Settlers came overland via wagon train or around Cape Horn by ship to the fertile Willamette Valley, where they established farms amid dense forests and open prairies. The first land claims in what is now Beaverton date to 1845-1850, about the same time Tuality County was renamed Washington County. The first years were focused on building homesteads and just surviving.
By the late 1860s, two rival entrepreneurs competed to build a west side railroad, creating openings for trade and transportation and ending Tualatin Valley’s isolation. Beaverton pioneer Joshua Welch and other prominent businessmen and speculators, foreseeing Beaverton as an important shipping point and terminal, laid out city blocks and lots. On December 26, 1868. Welch and his wife Adline traveled in a horse and buggy to the county courthouse in Hillsboro and filed the town plat of the proposed city of Beaverton. Twenty-five years would pass before the hamlet became a municipality.
Railroad owner Ben Holladay agreed to a Beaverton station if residents built one commercial structure. In 1871, the promised building, a combination general store and post office, was constructed on Farmington Road and Angel Street.
The strong, self-reliant homesteaders were in no hurry to form an official city. Some distrusted another layer of governance; others feared higher taxes and loss of land because of development. They remembered an ill-fated attempt to annex a portion of eastern Washington County into Multnomah County.
By the late 1880-early 1890s, there was a post office, school, blacksmith, train depot, Grange Hall, and weekly newspaper. The Plummer commercial fruit and vegetable dryer was running full time. It was 24’ in diameter with a steam whistle that gave the “quiet village” a “business air”. Invented and patented in Portland by William Plummer, it quickly and profitably processed farmers’ crops by utilizing moveable trays and hot air.
The prosperous little town had several churches, fraternal organizations, a fine brass band, steam sawmill, doctor, mercantiles, drainage district, and merchants selling hoop poles destined for San Francisco (Hoop poles were straight, long pieces of wood cut from oak or hazel saplings used in flooring or as rollers or barrel staves). Most farmers saw no advantage to city control.
Shopkeepers, however, believed incorporation would better serve residents by improving streets and sidewalks and creating an orderly, regulated, and progressive place. After a few years of arguing, business owners and farmers agreed to put aside differences and incorporate. It’s unclear who initiated the effort and when. It is known however that Silas Durham was serving his second term representing District 58 (Washington County) in the 1893 Regular Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly of state government when he presented the recitations for Beaverton’s incorporation.
On January 10, the Tualatin resident offered the first reading of House Bill 18 and the second on January 25. The Senate acted on the bill on the 30th, and eleven days later, on February 10, 1893, a new city was born with a population of 250. The name on the bill officially established the City of Beaverton, Oregon, USA.
In 2009, Mayor Denny Doyle presented a plaque to the Beaverton Historical Society which officially proclaimed February 10th as Beaverton History Day.
By Ann Koppy, BHSoc Historian. Visit www.historicbeaverton.org