Dorena Historical Society

More Cute Row River Valley Kids of Yore


Another cute kid photo. This one comes from Kevin Violette. He says “These are all Violette family children. This is a family photo of my dad’s siblings and cousins taken in the 1930s in the Culp Creek area.. From left to right — Donald, Helen, Nancy, Marilyn, Frances, Jim, Carol and Vera Lee Violette. Jim (my father) and Frances were the children of Robert and Jean Champie Violette; Donald and Helen the children of Glenn and Florene Violette…the others are Violettes, but I’m not sure whose!”



Adorable little Ava Lee Bales of Rat Creek Rd in 1942




Some kids from the town of Wildwood with their Moms in 1911. Yes, the town of Wildwood was near Wildwood Falls on Lower Brice Creek Rd.




The kids of Dorena School in 1917. Love the spiffy knickerbockers and suspenders on the boy in the front row!


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Valley on Fire

burning valley copy

This photo from 1948 shows the Row River Valley being burned out to make way for Dorena Dam. The new railroad tracks are in the foreground. Before the dam, the railroad ran straight up the valley alongside the river.


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Emperor of the North

emperor (1)

The New York Times has an interesting review of the new DVD of Emperor of the North (AKA Emperor of the North Pole).  The film starred Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine and was filmed on the railroad tracks in the Row River Valley.



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Row River Valley Cemeteries

bigelow jpeg

This is the gravestone of Alfred H. Bigelow at Sears Cemetery. He was the first Postmaster of Dorena.

Sears Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the Row River Valley.  The story of its origin is sad and touching. Sarah Alexander was a young wife and mother in the Valley back in 1852.  She had consumption and knew that she was going to die soon.  She wanted to pick out her own grave site, so she selected a lovely spot under an oak tree on a hill in view of her home.  She was buried there 5 months later. The spot became Sears Cemetery.

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The gravestone of Mary  Southwell and her son Walter.  The feud between the Southwell and Clark families gave the Row River Valley its name.


Vinnie Stewart was the daughter-in-law of early pioneer Bake Stewart.


The Englands were among the first to settle the valley and many of them are buried in Sears Cemetery






The Hunt Cemetery is a pioneer family cemetery near Wildwood Falls. There are a total of twelve graves here, mostly members of the Hunt Family. Quinten was the first of the Hunt Family to be buried there.




The Touchette brothers share an unusual grave site in the Hunt cemetery.  They are buried head to head and each has his own side of the tombstone. John Touchette built a mill at Wildwood Falls in 1895 and was dead a year later. There is also a Doolittle Cemetery near Cerro Gordo.  Six members of the Doolittle Family are buried there.


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Cute Row River Valley Kids of Yore


Not sure of the identity of this cute little farmer, but the photo is from the Van Schoaick Family



More Van Schoiack kids, Lattie, Belle and Ray, in a formal portrait from a Cottage Grove Studio



Four boys in a tree in Star circa 1900.  Might be a Wicks child or two in this photo.




Opal Whiteley and her sisters, early Row River residents.




A very somber Chloe and Faye Whiteley, sisters of Opal. The bottom three photos are from the Lane County Historical Society’s online photo archive. Check it out here and a nod to for posting about great online photo resources.


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The Kalapuya on the Row River

Jim Edwards of Cottage Grove gave an excellent talk on the Kalapuya at the June meeting of the Cottage Grove Historical Society. I obtained some new information there on the Kalapuya and this valley.  The Kalapuya used the Row River Valley as a path to Fairview Mountain to pick Huckleberries and to the Umpqua River to fish.  They fished the Row extensively. As late as the 1950’s fish traps were still visible at Rocky Point. Wildwood Falls was also a favorite fishing spot. The Row River Valley was a trading route with the Klamath.  From the Klamath the Kalapuya obtained obsidian, for which they had many uses, including surgery.  The path they used to get over the Cascades was called the Parker Trail. Part of it still exists as the trail to Parker Falls. There is an Indian burial ground on Bald Point near Cerro Gordo.  Chief Millipu is reportedly buried there.  The spelling for his name is a guess, as I can find no written record of him. A photo shows a bark house typical of Northwest Indians.

Photo from the Oregon Historical Society via the Cottage Grove Historical Society


Photo Courtesy of the Cottage Grove Historical Museum

This photo from 1911 shows Chief Jake Fern and his wife.  Chief Fern was descended from Chief Camafeema.  Camafeema means “ferns that grow from the ground.”  Many of Camafeema’s descendants used Fern as a surname.


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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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Some Row River Valley Faces and Places

Jim Lowe and his sister Dora at an early lumber camp.

Cute valley kids and dogs.

Maggie, Nellie and Nona on a Rat Creek porch.

Bunch of good looking fellas in the hood.

Old homestead.

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Hollywood on the Row

Three feature films have been filmed in the Row River Valley over the years.

Buster Keaton’s The General

The first of these was Buster Keaton’s The General. Filmed in 1926, The General was a Civil War Story and is considered Keaton’s greatest work.  The scene in which a train falls from a burning trestle was filmed just above the old Bohemia Mill site.  The engine was left in the river until World War II when it was sold for scrap.  In the meantime valley residents enjoyed jumping off of it while swimming in the river. One story told about the filming was that Buster and company were avid baseball players.  The cast and crew rode the train every day up to where they were filming in Culp Creek. They would stand on different flat cars and practice pitching and catching during the ride.  Onlookers said they never dropped the ball. The Cottage Grove Historical Society put out a book called The Day Buster Smiled that is a compilation of newspaper articles about the filming.  It is available at bookstores and museums around town.

Buster on the tracks.

Stills from The General.

The Train Wreck Scene.

The Emperor of the North Pole starring Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin was filmed on the river in the summer of 1972.  The film was directed by Robert Aldrich of The Dirty Dozen and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? fame.  The film was about the conflict between hobos and railroad men in the depression.

Ernest Borgnine on the old Number 19

Stand By Me was a Rob Reiner adaptation of the Stephen King story The Body.

The film was made in 1986 and a few of the scenes were done in the Row River Valley with the bulk of the film made on location in Brownsville.

A scene from Stand by Me

All of these films are available on Netflix and at

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Early Timber Photos

Timber was the mainstay of the Row River Valley for over a century.  The first lumber mill in the valley was called Up Today and Down Tomorrow and was used by early settlers to mill the lumber for their homes.  At one point there were 11 lumber mills along the Row and its tributaries.  Among these were Booth Kelly, Durable Fir, Wildwood, Brown Lumber, Row River Lumber and the big daddy of them all, Bohemia.

Steam Donkey used in logging

Lumber Camp along the Row

Lumber Camp Resident Opal Whiteley

Row River Lumber Company

Row River Lumber Company

Brown Lumber Company

Logs from Rujada

For a comprehensive look at the Timber Industry in the Row River Valley, try to get a hold of a copy of Bohemia,  The Lives and Times of an Oregon Timber Venture by Michael Thoele, published by the Oregon Historical Society Press.

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