Mississippi District Portland, Oregon: History and Community Features

The Mississippi District in Portland, Oregon is centered on the long stretch of Mississippi Avenue, lined with hip shops and excellent restaurants. Its residents are typically young and trendy, drawn to the community’s walkability and variety of local businesses.
The neighborhood hasn’t always been a hot spot, though. It shares a similar history as the nearby Eliot and Alberta neighborhoods, which were once run-down but have recently been renewed.
Its first residents were mainly Scandinavian and German immigrants, who moved to the area in the late nineteenth-century. These immigrants built homes in the community and worked at the nearby docks and railroad station, which brought prosperity to the neighborhood.
However, the neighborhood began to deteriorate in the 20th century, as cars became more important. A highway was constructed through the community, displacing residents and bringing down property values. Many residents moved to the suburbs, and the residents who stayed had trouble getting loans to improve the neighborhood.
By the 1980s and 90s, run-down buildings and crime were common in the community. Many businesses still operated along Mississippi Avenue, but they had shuttered windows and barred doors as protection against theft.
Then, in 1995, the city decided to intervene with development programs designed with input from residents. One pivotal organization that emerged from these renewal efforts was The ReBuilding Center, a nonprofit recycling company that aims to “forge community” in N/NE Portland. Established in 1997, The ReBuilding Center sells construction materials that have been donated or reclaimed from old buildings. “We’re harvesting houses, not trees,” as store manager Tom Patzkowski once said.
Besides providing affordable building materials, The ReBuilding Center donates their proceeds to their Community Outreach Program, which supports development projects in N/NE Portland. For example, it has helped to produce a play at a local high school, supported a local film festival, and hosted events for exchanging ideas in the community.
The ReBuilding Center has also become a hub for gathering information and planning projects. You can download a variety of “tool packets” from their website that give you step-by-step instructions for hosting social events and developing project ideas. Then, you can return to the center to spread your ideas or advertise your event.
The popularity of The Rebuilding Center isn’t limited to the Mississippi neighborhood, either. Portlanders from all over the city come to the nonprofit to pick up supplies and get advice. This city-wide popularity has also helped to boost other businesses in the area, as visitors stop for coffee or lunch after shopping.
Fortunately for these shoppers, Mississippi has an abundance of great locally-owned eateries, coffee shops, and brew pubs to choose from. Just across the street from The ReBuilding Center, there’s Mississippi Pizza, an old neighborhood favorite with live music every night. A few doors down, you can enjoy cheap tacos made with fresh, local ingredients at Por Qué No? Be sure to check out StormBreaker Brewing, too. It’s on the same block and offers a range of delicious, locally-crafted beer. For a legendary breakfast spot check out Gravy.
The Mississippi neighborhood is also a great street to visit if you’re interested in urban renewal or DIY projects. Besides going to The ReBuilding Center, you can find inspiration at local restaurants and shops that have been renovated using reclaimed materials.
In many ways, the Mississippi community now epitomizes the vibe of Portland. The shops are eclectic, selling everything from comic books and antique light bulbs to exotic plants and high-end baby clothes. You can attend a cooking class at Mr. Green Beans, or listen to a local band play at Mississippi Studios. And everywhere you go, there’s a creative, DIY twist.
After years of neglect, the Mississippi District has become one of the coolest places to live in Portland. It may not have the grandest, most expensive homes in the city, but it has a vibrant atmosphere and a contagious community spirit. Learn more about the Mississippi District and the homes for sale there on our community page.


2017 Oregon Coast Summer Events

Visiting the Oregon Coast is quite the adventure no matter what the season is. But spending time there during the summer months makes for an extra special treat. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, enjoying your favorite beer at a local brewery, or going for a hike, there is plenty of opportunity for fun. In-between these summer activities, be sure to consider checking out one of the beach-themed community events in the small towns along the coastline. Ranging from sandcastle building competitions to kite festivals, there is something for everyone to take part in. Here are few summer events on the Oregon Coast that you’ll want to experience.

Oregon Chainsaw Sculpture Championships (June 15-18, 2017)

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than by attending Reedsport’s Chainsaw Sculpting Championships? Experience art being taken to the next level with professional chainsaw sculpture carvers from around the world that take wood carving to an extreme with their power tools. Each competitor has 90 minutes to recreate a raw piece of wood into a work of art. Along with the carving you can enjoy nice cold beers from a beer garden, numerous food vendors, and a boat show.

Midsummer Festival (June 17-19, 2017)

This summer, Astoria celebrates the 50th anniversary of its popular Scandinavian Midsummer Festival that demonstrates the cultural heritage that was uprooted and shifted to the coastal town of Astoria. This is a three-day festival that celebrates Scandinavian music, dance, and food for tourists and locals to indulge in. Children will also have the opportunity to take part in cultural games and traditional midsummer activities.

Cannon Beach Sandcastle Competition (Saturday, June 17, 2017)

This year, Cannon Beach will be hosting its 53rd annual Sandcastle Contest. This is the oldest competition of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and by far, the most popular event in Cannon Beach. With many different divisions of teams ranging from families to a masters’ division, these sand sculptures are an exciting sight to see.
And the sandcastle competition isn’t the only event going on that weekend. The weekend also features a Friday night Parade, Saturday night beach bonfire with live music, and a Sunday morning 5K fun run and walk. Be sure to be there for the sandcastle judging that Saturday afternoon before they’re washed away by the next high tide.

Pirate Festival (June 23-25, 2017)

Rockaway Beach is proud to present its 6th annual Rockaway Beach Pirate Festival and Treasure Hunt. With activities covering pirate music, festival rides, a scavenger hunt, food venders, and ending the production with fire dancing, there will be something to keep the family busy throughout this whole weekend.

Southern Oregon Kite Festival (July 15-16, 2017)

Beginning in 1993 the Southern Oregon Kite Festival (SOKF) has been a highlight of all the kite festivals in the United States. Held on the kite field at the Port of Brookings-Harbor, this popular event is free of charge and a great for all ages. Rather than making this a competition, this is an invitational that brings in some of the most well-known kite fliers and kite makers to show off their creations. With more than 30 outstanding participants, you’ll be sure to see exciting flying routines that are choreographed to music. You can also take your kids to a free kite building workshop and pick up tasty treats from local vendors.

DuneFest (July 26-July 30, 2017)

Located in the town of Reedsport, OR. is Winchester Bay and the Dunes Recreational Area. This is known as the ATV dune-buggy capital of the Pacific coast. Here, you’ll discover the giant event called DuneFest. This consists of 5 days of dirt bike, dune-buggy, and ATV competitions. The event is the largest held in Reedsport and is a terrific way to show the beauty of the Oregon dunes. There are activities to accommodate all ages and skill level, so be prepared for an action-packed schedule of events including races, vendors, and music.
You can live and experience the Oregon Coast all summer long in your own beach cottage. Check out our latest Oregon Coast listings to find your dream home.


Port Orford, Oregon Real Estate and Information

Port Orford has been a unique and beautiful fishing port since 1851, when it was founded by Captain William Tichenor of the Steamship Sea Gull. Captain Tichenor wanted to establish a prosperous seaport, and Port Orford bay seemed like a good choice. It had a natural harbor, so ships could access the port without needing to cross a dangerous ocean bar.
While Port Orford didn’t immediately become a thriving coastal town, it did eventually grow and become successful later, as more settlers moved to Oregon. This larger population made trade and fishing more profitable, and Port Orford benefited from this boom. It became a receiving port for fishing and merchandise, as its natural harbor allowed for greater access throughout the year.
In addition to fishing and trade, Port Orford was a hub for the timber industry for many years. However, timber was economically less sustainable for the town than fishing. The beautiful cedar trees around Port Orford eventually became endangered, and the timber industry declined.
Gold Run Creek Subdivision – View More Photos
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Now, fishing and art are the two mainstays of the community. Fishermen are drawn to Port Orford because it offers more fishable days each year. Nearly 30 commercial fishing boats work from Port Orford. Just in 2016, the town’s fishing industry brought in around $5 million.
Port Orford is also a special port because it has one of the few “dolly docks” in the world. Instead of mooring in the water, boats are lifted in/out of the ocean and parked on trailers kept on the dock. The massive cranes that lift out the boats can support up to 25,000 pounds, well above the average weight of a fishing boat.
fishing boats port orford
There are also two great salmon and steelhead rivers in the area, the Sixes and the Elk River, with the latter being part of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers System. For great food, The Crazy Norwegians Fish and Chips in Port Orford is world famous and consistently voted best fish and chips on the Oregon coast.
Next to fishing, Port Orford thrives on the arts. The town has a handful of galleries, all run by working artists. The array of artwork is diverse, ranging from handcrafted furniture and cast glass to nautical paintings and marble sculptures.
One incredible piece of art in Port Orford is a house crafted from a wrecked steamship. This ship, the Joan of Arc, went adrift in heavy fog and hit the coast in November 1920. It was headed to Los Angeles from Portland, carrying supplies and lumber. These goods were partly salvaged from the wreck and used for constructing local buildings, like the charming Joan of Arc house.
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joan of arc house
The town’s creative community also values the wilderness of the area. They’ve worked hard to keep out strip malls and big developments that compromise the natural beauty surrounding the town. You can admire the beaches, wetlands, forests, lakes, and rocky bluffs around Port Orford by hiking its trail system, which links historic sites with scenic areas.
You can also go diving near Port Orford to experience the area’s underwater beauty. The town is quickly become a popular destination for Oregon divers. Its dive sites are easy to access, and there’s a great variety of marine life. You can spot rockfish, octopuses, crab, sea cucumbers, sea stars, and many other fish and invertebrates. If you prefer surfing, you can access great waves at Hubbards Creek Beach just south of town.
In addition to the beauty immediately around Port Orford, you can visit Cape Blanco State Park, just north of the town. Originally a huge ranch owned by a pioneer dairy farmer, Cape Blanco offers year-round camping with electric campsites and yurts, as well as a horse camp with seven miles of horse trails. You can walk along the beach at sunset, or hike one of the trails for breathtaking ocean views.
While you’re visiting Cape Blanco, you can also check out the historic Hughes House, a restored Queen Anne-style home built by the pioneers who once owned the Cape Blanco land. It’s one of the best preserved nineteenth-century homes in the US and will give you a glimpse of coastal life at the turn of the century.
For a tour of more secluded homes and real estate around Port Orford bay, contact one of our brokers who can show you around the area. Port Orford may not be the most famous town on the Oregon Coast, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful.
Here are a few other great listings to check out:
A 4 bedroom and 3 bathroom home which includes two master suites and a huge shop on 1.5 acres in the prestigious Cedar Terrace neighborhood.
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port orford home
An adorable 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house with locally sourced hardwood throughout on a beautifully landscaped corner a half block from Garrison Lake.
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port orford house


Eliot Neighborhood History Portland, Oregon

Located close to downtown Portland and several major freeways, the Eliot neighborhood is a convenient place to live no matter where you work. Its central location is just one reason why the neighborhood has grown in popularity, though. Besides the short commute, residents love the community’s diverse background and rich culture, shown in the numerous places to eat, drink, hang out, and listen to live music.
The Eliot neighborhood was born in the late 19th century, when Portland annexed the short-lived city of Albina. Platted in 1873, Albina was established by developers with business connections to the railroad. These developers wanted to take advantage of the railroad that was being built from the east bank of the Willamette River to Sacramento, California.
However, a recession in 1874 put a halt to the construction of this railroad. Albina was supposed to have a large terminal with docks and maintenance facilities, but without the railroad, the town had nothing—bankrupting the town’s main developer.
Five years later, developers James Montgomery and William Reid bought Albina and began building once again. Montgomery and Reid also had connections to the railroad, only this time, their investment paid off. A transcontinental link was finished in 1883, bringing industry and business to Albina.
Following this economic boom, European immigrants began to stream into the town. German, Scandinavian, and Irish workers found jobs working at the docks and railroad, as well as constructing homes in the community, some of which still stand today.
Albina was quickly expanding. City officials tried to manage this rapid growth by putting in streetcar lines in 1889 and redrawing the city’s boundaries. Soon, Albina and Portland were growing into each other. They were officially consolidated in 1891, and the city of Albina was divided into several neighborhoods.
The center of Albina was in Eliot, named after the influential pioneer minister, Rev. Thomas Lamb Eliot. Besides being a minister, Rev. Eliot had been an active leader in the cultural development of Portland. “He had a hand in steering virtually every major public institution in the city,” as one historian writes in Reed Magazine.
Later, the Eliot neighborhood honored another minister, Rev. John Dawson, by naming Dawson Park after him. Rev. Dawson had advocating for community development and child welfare throughout the 1920s. His civic legacy stayed alive through Dawson Park, which became a hub for community gatherings in the 1940s.
For several decades, Dawson Park remained the center of social and political action, both in Eliot and the greater Portland area. It was the meeting point for civil rights marches, and the stage for speakers as important as Robert F. Kennedy.
Besides Dawson Park, residents of Eliot have long used local eateries, lounges, and bars as gathering spaces, especially for musicians. There are casual music venues throughout the neighborhood. Some establishments are nearly as old as the neighborhood itself, going back to the early 20th century.
For example, you can discover new music and learn dance moves at the Secret Society—a cocktail lounge, ballroom, and recording studio, housed in an elegant hall from 1907. There’s a list of events every week, from salsa and swing dancing to happy hour with live local bands.
Another historic neighborhood establishment is the White Eagle Saloon, which opened its doors in 1905. The bar was originally a meeting spot for Polish immigrants in Portland, but it’s since turned into a popular venue for everyone, with live music every night.
If you still haven’t found the music you’re looking for, you can check out the list of concerts coming up at the Wonder Ballroom. This venue is also in a historic building, originally constructed in 1914 for an Irish fraternal organization called the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Now, it’s an auditorium lit by gothic sconces and a chandelier, a great atmosphere for late-night concerts and dancing.
Next to these music venues, the Eliot neighborhood is known for its excellent dining. You can order incredible tapas at Toro Bravo, chow down on satisfying barbecue at The People’s Pig, or start your day with a Swedish brunch at Border Nord.
If you live in Eliot, you’ll be a short walk away from great music, memorable food, and beautiful historic buildings. You could even live in a charming old house, built by the neighborhood’s earliest inhabitants. Check out our listings and discover the beauty and history of this neighborhood for yourself.


Central Oregon Summer Activities

The summer season around Central Oregon provides lots of sunshine and many days of warm temperatures. Whether you’re trying to embrace the heat or take a break from it, you can always find a great summer activity to do to suit your adventure needs. From trekking through the rugged Cascade Mountains, to navigating your way down the Deschutes River, Central Oregon has you covered. Here are a few great summertime activities to consider while you’re exploring this beautiful area.

McKenzie River

Central Oregon is known for having really warm summers, after all, it is the high desert. Willamette National Forest is only a couple hour drive outside of Bend and there you’ll discover the pristine, and cold, McKenzie River. The river stretches around 90 miles through the forest and along it are some of Oregon’s most valued gems.
McKenzie River
One of those great spots is Tamolitch Pool, or better known as Blue Pool. It’s an easy 4-mile round-trip hike and the trail takes you to a spectacular, turquoise colored oasis where you can choose to admire the water from above, or take a leap of courage into the really cold, translucent swimming hole.

Drink A Beer

Bend, Oregon is recognized for its abundant number of micro-breweries. In fact, Bend has more breweries per-capita than any other city in Oregon. So, what better way to cool yourself off during the summer than by having a Central Oregon brewed beer? The Bend Ale Trail Beer Tour gives you a passport to pint glasses where you can travel around this beer town and sip on a few of Bend’s very own brews. Get your beer tour passport stamped, and then you’re off to your next pub. And of course, The Bend Ale Trail Tour wants you to travel responsibly. You can take your pick from a styled-out town car, to a plush bus, or even your very own horse drawn carriage. Once your passport is completed, head over to Bend’s visitor center and collect your prize.

Oregon Senior Games

Those over the age of 50 are invited to participate in the Bend, Oregon Senior Games (June 12-18), where athletes from all over will compete in sporting events like cycling, tennis, swimming, bowling, archery, track and field, basketball, and more! Find out more information on how you can participate at VisitBend.com. Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty is also proud to sponsor this fun local event, and we’re hosting a packet pick-up party at our Old Mill office on June 14 from 3-7pm.

Hot Springs

As if Central Oregon doesn’t provide enough warmth during the summer months, you can turn up the heat by checking out the notorious Umpqua Hot Springs. Situated right along North Umpqua River, the hot springs is located on a mineral deposit and the all natural pools are heated from past volcanic activity, with the hottest pool being around 108 degrees. Be sure to kick up your feet and enjoy the view of the river flowing right below you while soaking. Be sure to check out the many other Central Oregon hot springs that are all worth visiting too.

Take A Helicopter Ride

Hiking the Cascade Mountain Range is a humbling experience within itself. But imagine what it’s like to see the mountains from a bird’s eye view. Give your feet a break for the day and explore Central Oregon’s beauty from the sky. Big Mountain Heli Tours will fly you high over the breathtaking Cascades, giving you a top-notch view of the jagged ridgelines and alpine lakes. And if you’re visiting during the 4th of July, be sure to check out their tour where you’ll hover above Bend’s Old Mill District during their grand fire work show, providing you with a new perspective on Independence Day fireworks.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Over many years, volcanos and glaciers formed the spectacular mountains and bodies of water that provide Central Oregon’s residents and visitors with great hiking, backpacking, and camping. You can drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to experience a lot of what Central Oregon offers during the summer. Beginning on the west side of Bend, the 66-mile drive takes you to numerous alpine lakes, beautiful trails, and stunning views. Ranging from something more rugged like Sparks Lake, which covers 250 acres of wet meadow and a jagged lava shoreline, all the way to resort style Elk Lake with cabin rentals, boat rentals, campgrounds and dining.

Whitewater Rafting

Sun Country Tours, now owned by Mt. Bachelor, can guide you on a thrilling summer rafting trip along many rivers around Central Oregon. You can choose between the remote wilderness of the North Umpqua River, wind through a mossy forest on the McKenzie River, or view the beautiful high desert by traveling down the rugged Deschutes River. Looking to tie in a camping trip with your whitewater trip? Check out Rogue Wilderness Adventures for overnight camping after a day filled with class I through III rapids.
Do all of these great summer activities in Central Oregon want to make you buy a place here? Check out these great homes that will have you close to all of the fun and living in a great community.
Wonderful Bend home in NorthWest Crossing. View More Photos
bend oregon home
Luxurious home in the gated community of Broken Top in Bend. View More Photos
broken top townhome
Central Oregon home on 5 acres and only 15 minutes from Bend. View More Photos
bend oregon acreage

First Addition Neighborhood Lake Oswego, Oregon

First Addition is a beautiful neighborhood in Lake Oswego that has been around since the late 1800s. Conveniently located just south of Portland, it’s top-rated schools, wonderful restaurants, and vibrant art culture makes First Addition a great place to buy a home.
First Addtion is a diverse community where you’ll find a variety of architecture styles, prices, and mix of neighbors, from first-time home buyers to retirees. This beautifully wooded neighborhood also borders the Tryon Creek State Natural area, a local favorite park and recreation area, and is an excellent place to live if you appreciate being able to walk to all of the amenities First Addition has to offer.
Living in the First Addition neighborhood means Farmers’ Markets in the summer, horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter, sending your kids to some of the best schools, being in close proximity to the Oswego Lake Country Club and Lake Oswego Library, and being surrounded by a community that appreciates art and green spaces.
Here is a beautiful Cape Cod style home for sale that’s located in the heart of First Addition, only one block from Forest Hills Elementary, shopping, and parks.
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first addition oregon home
This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2417 sq ft home is on a corner lot with a large fenced yard, has an updated kitchen with granite counters and stainless steel appliances, a large master suite with vaulted ceilings, and a sunroom with skylights and doors that open to a gardener’s paradise.
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first addition home lake oswego
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lake oswego home backyard
Other features include a beautiful natural oak hardwood floor on main level, lower level utility with laundry sink and ample storage, detached single car garage and garden shed built to match the house, and a sprinkler system in the backyard.
This beautiful home in First Addition is offered by Veronica Park, a real estate broker with over 15 years of experience. In fact, if you’re looking for a true local expert to help you find your dream home, Veronica is from Lake Oswego and will be able to show you a variety of real estate for sale in this wonderful area. Along with her knowledge of the Lake Oswego area, Veronica is also a patron to the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, a member of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers for Meals on Wheels.
Contact Veronica at 503-862-3129 to learn more about this wonderful Cape Cod home and schedule a showing.


Wonderful Sunriver, Oregon Homes For Sale

Best known as a wonderful vacation spot in Central Oregon, Sunriver is also filled with many long-time residents who enjoy all the benefits the area has to offer. With beautiful trails for walking and biking, world-class golf courses, close to spectacular mountains and lakes, and year-round family friendly activities just steps from your door, these are just a few of the many reasons people choose to buy a place in Sunriver.
The tight-knit community is conveniently located just south of Bend, Oregon and has easy access to Mt. Bachelor for skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. When you live in Sunriver, you can enjoy golfing, biking, paddle boarding, and skiing, all in the same day! Or take advantage of the many local restaurants and breweries, the beautiful parks and outdoor spaces, Sunriver Nature Center and Oregon Observatory, the library, and much more!
Learn more about Sunriver and browse real estate for sale on our community page.

Sunriver Homes For Sale

Earthy tones and rich textures gives this beautiful home a luxurious mountain lodge feel. The open floor plan and thoughtful design, rock wall fireplace, warm wood floors, bunk room, private guest quarters, large master suite, and a fantastic outdoor space makes this Sunriver home a great place to entertain and enjoy all the activities that Central Oregon offers.
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beautiful sunriver oregon home
This single level home is in a prime location, close to Sunriver Village and Lodge, and features a wonderful back deck, hot tub, and outdoor area, perfect for entertaining family and friends. Other features include a beautiful custom entry with a vaulted atrium with a windowed ceiling for star gazing, floor to ceiling rock fireplace, spacious kitchen with breakfast nook and formal dining area, and a large master suite with a jetted tub.
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single level home for sale sunriver oregon
If you’re looking for a low maintenance place in Sunriver that gives you peace of mind when you’re away, then check out this 3 bedroom and 2.5 bathroom River Village condominium. This end unit includes new flooring, fixtures, appliances, and countertops as well as additional windows and southern exposure which allows for an abundance of natural light throughout the home.
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sunriver oregon condo
This beautiful home is located on a quiet cul-de-sac in Sunriver and is being sold furnished. Features include an oversized two-car garage, dog run, wonderful outdoor living space, and a huge deck.
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sunriver home
With a net rental income of $66k in 2016, this Sunriver place is a true investment property. It’s located near the village, can sleep up to 18 people, and had a complete interior remodel done in 2014.
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sunriver investment property
This updated home has a huge outdoor living space, a wonderful elevated deck with westerly views for evening sunsets, large garage and attached storage, and comes fully furnished. A perfect place to enjoy Sunriver and the surrounding area throughout the year.
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sunriver or home
This wonderful 4 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom home has a very successful vacation rental history and is tucked away in the quiet north end of Sunriver. Features include new carpeting, log accents, vaulted wood plank ceilings, an open great room with a river rock fireplace, and it comes completely furnished with charming Pacific NW decor. A perfect place to call home or use part-time as a vacation rental property.
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sunriver or house
Also a solid rental property, this large 5 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom home is conveniently located near Ft. Rock Park and is located on a quiet cul-de-sac. Features include 3 master suites, large family room with full size pool table and flat screen TV, large great room and kitchen area, and plenty of 2017 bookings.
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sunriver oregon home


Oregon City History and Community Development

Oregon City is steeped in history. It’s the oldest city in Oregon, and for many years, it was also the most important. Its roots go back to the early 19th century, when fur traders and trappers were roaming the Northwest wilderness.
At that time, fur-trading companies were actively exploring and settling the Northwest. Instead of competing, these companies eventually merged to form one powerful force, called the Hudson’s Bay Company. This company established some of the first towns in the Northwest, including Oregon City.
Hudson’s Bay strategically chose the location for Oregon City. It was next to Willamette Falls and close to where the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers meet. This location was ideal for the lumber industry, as well as for trade.
At its foundation in 1829, the outpost had only three houses for company employees. Its growth was limited to employees until the 1840s, when it was officially platted and incorporated. It was one of the only towns in the Oregon Territory, and as such, it became the capital of the Oregon frontier.
Soon, Oregon City was humming with activity and new settlers. As the capital, it was the final stop for Oregon Trail pioneers who wanted to file land claims. Fur traders, politicians, and missionaries were also among its population. It was no longer just a trading outpost, but an important urban center. It even had its own newspapers, the Oregon Spectator, the first published west of the Rocky Mountains.
However, in the 1850s, Portland’s economy and population began to surpass Oregon City’s. This shifting of power was partly due to the California Gold Rush, which drew residents away from Oregon City. In addition, the capital of Oregon was moved to Salem in 1951. Although Oregon City was still a center for trade and urban activities, it was no longer the seat of government or endpoint for pioneers on the Oregon Trail.
Initially, Portland and Oregon City were economic rivals, but by the end of the 19th century, they were starting to work together. The production of electricity in Oregon City, and Portland’s need for electrical power, helped to motivate this cooperation. Starting in 1889, Portland began to receive electricity from Willamette Falls via long-distance power lines. This transmission helped to build a partnership between the cities that endures to this day.
Besides powering homes and offices, the electricity generated at Willamette Falls improved the railway connection between Oregon City and Portland. With so much electricity, it was possible to construct an interurban electric railroad between the cities. In 1893, the Eastside Railway Company ran its first passenger train between the cities. It was an immediate success, creating opportunities for residents in both cities to commute to work.
Many Portlanders took this opportunity. Around the turn of the century, the population and development of Oregon City really took off. New subdivisions were platted along the bluff, and many new houses were built.
Some of these homes eventually became historical landmarks. For example, the pioneer Harley Stevens built a home for his family in 1908 that has since become the Stevens-Crawford Museum. Designed with the foursquare architecture popular at that time, the home has been well-preserved with original fixtures and details.
Historical preservation has been a key part of Oregon City for a long time. Already in 1909, residents were thinking about how to keep their historical treasures intact. They wanted to preserve important homes from the 19th century, which were endangered by 20th-century developments.
To protect these residences, the city government moved them to other locations, away from the neighborhoods being developed. Although these moves sometimes resulted in damage to the homes, they ultimately saved them from being demolished.
The first home the city preserved was built in 1846 by Dr. John McLoughlin, who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company for two decades. After resigning from his position, he became the manager of a general store in Oregon City where Oregon Trail pioneers often ended their journey.
Later, other historic homes were also moved and preserved. For instance, the Ermatinger House—the oldest house in Clackamas County—was built in 1845 and moved in 1910.
Some homes were set apart for their architectural beauty more than their historical value. For example, the Harvey Cross House was built in the late 1880s and moved in 1915 because of its elegant Italianate architecture.
The residents of Oregon City didn’t stop at preserving these homes, either. They also worked to keep their downtown and natural surroundings beautiful. It’s a great city for a history buff, but also for anyone who treasures beauty.
Currently, the community is working to bring the Willamette Falls back to the people, with plans for a public riverwalk and a connected downtown Oregon City with room for housing, public spaces, habitat restoration, education, and employment. Learn more about the Willamette Falls Legacy Project here and here.
Find out more about Oregon City and find homes for sale on our community page.