Dorena Historical Society

Timber Family Portrait

row river lumber family photo

While searching for photos from the Row River Valley I often find old timber scenes and old family portraits, but this is a rare combination of the two.  This is the Row River Lumber Company in 1909. They were located where Vaughn Creek meets the Row River.  The company was owned by Albert Stocks and Carrol Harlow and perhaps it is the family of one or the other shown in this photo.


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50 Years Ago Today

flood jpeg

Another photo from the Great Flood of 1964. On Christmas Day two women walk along the railroad tracks.  This photo was taken at Rocky Point, where Sallee Road meets Row River Rd. The railroad tracks are now the Bike Trail.


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Incident at Rocky Point

Rocky Point on the Row River

This story was originally told to Dr. Oglesby of Cottage Grove by Chief Halotish of the Kalapuya.  The Chief reported that in about 1810 a party of Klamath came over the Cascades and down into what is now Cottage Grove.  They kidnapped four Kalupuya women, including the sister of Halotish. The Klamath headed back up the Row River Valley to their home east of the mountains. The Kalapuya knew that at Rocky Point the valley narrowed so much that there was barely room to pass single file between the mountain and the river. Halotish and 3 other Kalapuya men took a short cut to the Point and gathered boulders on the hill above it.  When the Klamath passed beneath them on the trail they pushed the rocks over the cliff, killing a number of the kidnappers.  They set upon the rest of them with arrows and rescued the women.


Kalapuya Man circa 1841


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Old Row River Valley Post Offices

At one time there were numerous small Post Offices in the Row River Valley, but now only the Dorena Post Office remains. The first Post Office in the valley was Star.  It opened in 1891 and closed in 1923.  It was located near Sallee Road about a mile up river from Dorena School.

Bohemia Post Office

From 1896 until about 1922 there were numerous small Post Offices in the Bohemia Mining District.  Among these were Bohemia, Champion, Mineral and Orseco.

This Disston Post Office was established in 1906 and was open until the 1970s. The Row River Post Office was established in 1911 and closed in 1914. The Rujada Post Office was opened in 1916 and closed in 1918.  Rujada County Park is located in the vicinity of this long forgotten little office. The Wildwood Post Office opened in 1888 and closed in 1914.  It was located on a ranch adjacent to Wildwood Falls. There was a Post Office called Bluff from 1892 until 1899.  The exact location of this office is unknown.

The Culp Creek Post office was established in 1925 and was closed in 2007. It was located in a private home until the early 1980s. It was certainly one of the last offices in the state to be located in someones living room. The history of the Dorena Post Office was detailed on the first post on this blog back in December of 2009.

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How the Row River was named.

Post card mailed from the Row River Post Office in 1911.

The Row River was originally referred to as the East Fork of the Coast Fork River.  A long and violent dispute between two neighbors, George Clark and Joseph Southwell, resulted in the area being called the valley of the “row.”  The name attached itself to the river and to a Post Office that existed for a few years in the 1910’s.  The fight between the two men ended with Mr. Clark being killed by Mr. Southwell.

The Row River flowing through the valley in the 1930s before being dammed to form Dorena Reservoir.

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The Great Flood of 1964

In 1964 the Row River experienced a 100 year flood.  The above photo shows Rocky Point (about 1 mile up river from present day Dorena School) during the flood.  Ruth Stewart, Postmistress at the time, reported that her husband put on waders and hiked down the railroad track to Rocky Point with sacks of outgoing mail. He then exchanged them for sacks of incoming mail with the mail carrier who met him there.

There were reports that some of the cabins along the river were saved from being washed downstream by chaining them to trees with logging cables.  Another rumor suggests that someone obtained a home by snagging it with cable as it floated by.

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First Residents

The earliest residents of the Row River Valley were the Yoncalla band of the Kalapuya.  The first evidence of the tribe is an arrow point found on the Mohawk River that dates back to 9500-6000 BC.

An oven for cooking camas roots dating back to 5860 BC was found near Fern Ridge Reservoir.

Local lore has it that the usually peace loving Kalapuya had a battle with the Klamath at Rocky Point on the Row River. The Klamath came over seasonally to fish on the river and one year made off with some Kalapuya women. Old timers say that they found arrowheads there for years.

In 1782 –1783 a smallpox epidemic reduced the Kalapuya population to 2000-4000 people.

In 1855 – 1856 the Kalapuya were removed to the Grande Ronde Reservation.

A few Kalapuya left in town were remembered by early residents. Ivan Hoyer told me of a Kalapuya woman named Sally who lived in town in the early part of the 20th century. When she died her friends and family put her belongings in a suitcase where it was hung from a tree to rot. Today there are an estimated 4,000 Kalapuya descendants in the US.

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