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History 2017-06-13T16:07:58+00:00

Chehalem Valley History

Attracted by the beauty and fertility of the Chehalem Valley, Oregon pioneers began clearing land for farming in the Newberg area in the mid 1800s. One of the first settlers was Ewing Young, who claimed, in the tradition of southwest settlers, all the land he could see as his. Young is famous for herding 600 head of Spanish longhorns from California to Oregon, pioneering the cattle industry in the northwest. In 1869 the first postmaster, Sebastian Brutscher, named the area Newberg after his Bavarian hometown of Newburgh.

In the 1870s Quaker minister William Hobson of Iowa settled in the Chehalem Valley and began preaching the Word of God. Following Hobson was a sizeable number of Quakers, including Jesse Edwards who built a brick and tile factory, molding distinctive cream-colored bricks from local clay. To foster higher education, Edwards helped found Friends Pacific Academy. Built in 1884, the academy is now known as George Fox University.

In 1885, an eleven-year-old boy named Herbert Hoover moved to Newberg to live with his aunt and uncle, the Minthorns. The boy went on to become the country’s 31st president. Hoover’s boyhood home still stands in downtown Newberg and is now the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum. Before the coming of the narrow gauge railroad in 1887 the hub of the town’s transportation was the river, although mail arrived on horseback.

When the railroad arrived, so did the people. In 1887 the population of Newberg skyrocketed to 200. Newberg became incorporated as a town in 1889 and as a city in 1893. By 1905 the town boasted two tile and brick plants, a creamery, an ice plant, a saw mill and two flour mills.

Today Newberg is the second largest city in Yamhill County with a population of 20,500. Its main street, Highway 99W, provides the main artery from Portland to Oregon beaches. The area’s wineries are among the finest in the state and have achieved world attention for their pinot noir varieties.

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Located two miles west of Newberg, the City of Dundee is a point of pride in the Chehalem Valley with its fabulous view of the majestic Cascade mountain range. Founded by a group of pioneer families, Dundee was named after the boyhood home of pioneer William Reid of Dundee, Scotland.

Dundee was incorporated in 1895. From many years Dundee was well known for its production of prunes and walnuts. The city has also been hailed as the hazelnut capital of the world. Today, the biggest attraction in Dundee is the wine industry.

In the 1970s it was discovered that Dundee’s Red Hills had a similar soil composition as the Bordeaux region in France. Since that time, over 25 wineries moved to or started around Dundee. Wines from the Dundee area have won numerous medals and acclaim by wine connoisseurs from around the world. A delicious offshoot of the wine industry is the growing number of fine-dining restaurants that are making Dundee and Newberg their home.

St. Paul was founded in 1901 and named by the Archbishop Francis Norbert Blanchet for the apostle Paul. The area is located was settled in the 1830s by French Canadians and became known as French Prairie.

The center of St Paul has been designated a national historic district.Located eight miles south of Newberg, St. Paul is a farming community of 400 set in a landscape of fields and orchards. The area for 20 square miles around the town is some of the most fertile irrigated farm land in the country. Farmers raise a great diversity of crops here including grasses, grains, nursery, hops, fruits and vegetables.

St. Paul is the home of historical St. Paul Catholic Church, built in 1846-47. The church, kept in excellent repair with several renovations over the years, still features original stained glass made in France and Germany. Original bricks, produced by Indian women and fired in a kiln on the site, are still visible in exterior walls. St. Paul Parochial School serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The town also has a public elementary school and high school.Famous for its annual world-class rodeo, St. Paul today is host to tens of thousands of visitors every summer who travel to the city for a slice of the old West at the St. Paul Rodeo held July 1-4th.

Nestled in the northern region of Willamette Valley, Chehalem Valley stretches east to west, bordered on the north by the Chehalem Mountains, Dundee hills, and the highest point within Willamette Valley, Bald Peak at 1,633 feet. The valley is bordered on the south by the meandering Willamette River.

Native Americans aptly gave Chehalem Valley its name, which means “Valley of the Flowers.” With a variety of wild berries, hazelnut trees and abundant deer, the valley offered the perfect spot for a settlement. In 1814, the valley’s beauty lured a hunting party from Fort Astoria to a camp in the present vicinity of Newberg. In the mid 1800s, Oregon pioneers began clearing land for farming.

Today, Yamhill County boasts a rich and varied agricultural economy, producing more than 160 varieties of crops. The region grows 90 percent of the nation’s hazelnuts. Other principle products include wheat, poultry, dairy, a variety of fruits, livestock, wine grapes, vegetables, tree and plant nurseries, legume and grass seeds.