There are a ton of beavers in Oregon. Thousands in fact. These aquatic mammals live and build dams, resulting in lush environments that makes the state so scenic.
Nestled at the eastern edge of Tualatin Valley is Beaverton, a quant Oregonian area surrounded by farmlands and natural resources. And, obviously, it was named after the land dwelling animals, or Castor Canadensis; the North American Beaver.
With 30 miles of hiking trails and a 25-mile network of bike paths, this Northwestern gem is a natural wonderland.
This is The History of Beaverton, Oregon:
Originally, the Tualatin Valley and Beaverton area were home to the Atfalati people. Most occupied the Tualatin Valley, which spans the slowly-meandering Tualatin River — a tributary of the Willamette River. Although prosperous for several centuries, the Atfalati population declined significantly in the late 1700s. The Native Americans settled at a village positioned on the Beaverton and Fanno creeks called Chakeipi, translating to “place of the beaver.” Early settlers referred to the place as Beaverdam, later changing it to Beaverton. To this day, some of the state’s best wineries are located within the Tualatin Valley.
In 1792, westerners migrated to the Pacific Northwest when Robert Gray sailed the Columbia River, opening the doors for exploration. Later that year, British Lieutenant William Broughton navigated 100 miles upriver. It took nearly 50 years for the first land claim in Beaverdam, comprising 640 total acres.
Lawrence Hall lived near present-day Walker Road and built a grist mill that was instrumental in Oregon’s early agriculture communities. Prominent industries included logging and wood products.
Midway through the century, the territorial government created the Portland-Tualatin Valley Plank Road Company to construct roads from Portland to Hillsboro along Canyon Road.
in 1868, a railroad was built, increasing the small farming community west of Portland. By the end of the 1800s, Beaverton was formally incorporated with a population of 400 residents.
One of the first Beaverton establishments listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places was built in 1912. The Belle Ainsworth Jenkins Estate was constructed as an English hunting lodge-style main home, built by the heir to the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. The Jenkins estate covers 68 acres with 28 acres of gardens. Since 1978, the Gilded Age summer home has been protected as a significant area landmark and is open to the public as a living history museum; some of the estate’s buildings can be rented for private events, including weddings and community meetings.
Premium Picture Productions
Motion pictures began filming in the area in 1920. Premium Picture Productions built a movie studio near Erickson Street, recruiting local residents for extra and production work.
The glory days didn’t last very long.
After filmmaking became concentrated primarily in Hollywood, the film company made 15 motion pictures before it went bankrupt in five years.
When the studio shuttered, the 32-acre site was refurbished into an aircraft hangar factory. Rapidly, airplanes were built and tested, with numerous pilots using the named Watts Airport as a landing strip. Wood frame hangars were constructed at the newly established Bernard’s Airport located about a half mile away. Aircraft were engineered and the home-built airplane industry thrived. Eventually, the airfield was converted into the Beaverton Mall shopping center in 1969.
Phil Knight was a University of Oregon alum. His Ducks ties are significant because he founded the most profitable athletic shoe and apparel company of all time. As a huge athletics booster, and giant employer of the area, Knight kept his brand Nike local.
The world headquarters is situated on approximately 300 acres of land fifteen minutes west of Woodlark. There are 75 buildings that take up two million square feet of office space. Each structure is named after a long affiliation with Nike, including Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, and several others. Essentially, the campus is a museum that showcases the company’s impressive heritage, and features greenery and lovely running trails that makes Beaverton so beautiful. There are nearly 13,000 employees at the Oregon headquarters alone, with almost 80,000 worldwide. In 2022, the brand alone was valued at $33 billion.
Settlers in the early 1840s were already planting grapes. Prior to the Prohibition, Tualatin Valley was renamed to “Grape Hill” due to its budding wine industry. However, most grapevines that existed at the time were wiped out during Prohibition.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that Oregon wines received significant notice. In the 1980s, Ponzi Wine (then local, now in Sherwood) was favorably covered by the New York Times.
Leading up to present day, the industry has sold over two million cases of Oregon vintages. By 2015, there were 702 wineries and 28,034 acres devoted to the beverage.
By the new millennium, Beaverton’s Cooper Mountain Vineyards became the first in the state to achieve Demeter-Certified Biodynamic status. A Beaverton wine trail takes visitors to local wineries that include Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Hamacher Wines, and Ponzi Vineyards. As of this writing, there are nearly 30 wineries in the premier Tualatain Valley wine region alone.
If you want to read about more local history, read “The History of Portland.”