Historical Tour of the Tualatin Valley
Pioneer and community history can be found throughout Oregon’s Washington County. European pioneers discovered the fertile soil of the northern Willamette and Tualatin Valleys and temperate climates were the ideal combination for growing outstanding produce. From the 19th through the 20th centuries, the efforts made by many of these early residents help make Washington County what it is today.
The day’s tour starts with breakfast at the South Store Café housed in a century-old clapboard building with an odd “rakish tilt,” a result of the historic Columbus Day storm that ravaged the area in 1962. The building originally opened circa 1903 as a combination general store and meeting hall for the local chapter of the Independent Order of the Oddfellows. Today the South Store Café remains a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Across the street is the Smith Berry Barn, a u-pick farm and store featuring dozens of varieties of berries and apples. The barn that houses Smith Berry Barn’s country store was once the home of the Portland Canning Company in the 1950s, and served as the main transfer station where local berry farmers brought their harvest to be weighed and sold.
The Tualatin Valley is rich with history. From century farms and pioneer cemeteries to historic buildings and museums filled with artifacts, you’re never too far from a slice of the past.
Next, venture to Hillsboro for a little pioneer history at the Old Scotch Church, established in 1873 and is the oldest continually-used church in the state. On the grounds of the church is the Tualatin Plains Cemetery, where many Oregon pioneers were laid to rest, including Joseph Meek, who was among the first to cross certain portions of the Oregon Trail. The site also includes an interpretive sign offering historical facts and insights about the region.
Stop for lunch at the historic Cornelius Pass Roadhouse and Imbrie Hall, a six-acre farmstead owned by one of the area’s first settlers, the Imbrie family, and featuring buildings and barns that date to the mid-1850s. The farm has seen many incarnations: horse farm, dairy farm and grain and hay production. In 1986, McMenamins leased the property and transformed the then-120-year-old house, which was used as a brew pub, meeting space and more. In 2015, McMenamins announced plans to turn the Roadhouse into a bed-and-breakfast.
Venture to Forest Grove for closer look at Oregon’s pioneer history at the Old College Hall Museum at Pacific University, the oldest educational building in the western United States. Peruse through the historical archives of the university and learn more about these early pioneers who were instrumental to the establishment of this institution and the community. (Open to the public the first Wednesday of every month from 1-4 p.m.)
The final stop of the tour is McMenamins Grand Lodge. This nearly century-old building has a storied past, and from 1922 to 1999, the stately building was home to the Masonic and Eastern Star Home for the state of Oregon. When it first opened, it served, a home for the “aged and infirm, and the poor and distressed worthy Master Masons, their widows and orphans.” Today this European-style hotel, complete with restaurant, spa, soaking pool and more, pays homage to the residents of the home and orphanage with historical photographs and paintings of those who lived there found throughout the property.