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P.O. Box 35
Philomath, OR 97370
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Benton County Historical Timeline: 1880s


Wells Post Office is established (discontinued 1936). Wells was located in what today is the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Refuge.

Main Street of Wellsdale, Oregon. View taken looking toward false-fronted store of J.A. Carter General Merchandise. Wellsdale Public and High School with the students posed in front of the building.    


First telephone service begins in Benton County.

The R.M. Thompson Building on Second Street, Corvallis, was the location of Corvallis' first telephone.    


The Corvallis Foundry is established in 1880. It carries on foundry work and a blacksmith business.



Benton County's first telephone franchise is established. It is operated out of the Ray Grocery Store, located at 2nd and Monroe Streets in Corvallis.


Jan. 9, 1880

A "hurricane" occurs. Although no one is injured, farmers suffer because fences are flattened, barns and sheds are demolished, grain and hay is destroyed, and roads and bridges are damaged.


Jan. 28, 1880

The first train arrives in Corvallis, and passenger train service begins, provided by Western Oregon Railroad.



Philomath gets its first phone line when a telephone is installed in the Henkle Store.



St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church is built in Monroe. It is 40 X 70 ft. with a steeple 90 ft. high. It is dedicated on April 29, 1883.



The Twelfth Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon considers a bill for the incorporation of the City of Philomath at its September-October session in 1882. Oregon House Bill No. 104 easily passes the House and Senate, and is approved by the Governor on October 20, 1882.


February 1882

On February 25, 1882, the warehouse of W.A. Wells, near the railroad depot, was destroyed by fire.

George Wrenn, a member of the Corvallis Hook and Ladder Company, was killed in the fire. He had always been an active member of the Corvallis Fire Department. It was through his efforts that the first fire company was organized in 1872--Young American Engine Company.

The Corvallis Gazette, March 3, 1882, reported: "On the 26th day of February A.D. 1882, Geo. P. Wrenn was instantly killed while assisting to move the contents from the warehouse of W.A. Wells while the building was burning. A portion of the building fell striking him on the head and shoulders crushing him to the ground instantly."

George P. Wrenn Memorial    


The Corvallis City Council passes an ordinance declaring: "that it should be unlawful for any person or person to play the game of cricket, football, basketball, townball, the game of cat, or games of like nature within the corporate limits of the City of Corvallis on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday."



Lobster Post Office is established.



The First Congregational Church is founded by 13 heretics asked to leave the First Presbyterian Church.

First Congregational Church at the northwest corner of 3rd and Jefferson, Corvallis, Oregon, seen here circa 1900. <BR>    


Jesse Hoffman sells his Pleasant Valley saw mill to Francis Moore. It has a capacity of 600 feet of lumber per day.



D.C. Roses starts a cigar factory in Corvallis which employs two men.



The Corvallis group of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) builds their headquarters on Second Street. It is the first W.C.T.U. building constructed on the West Coast. It was a "moral force" that caused the number of saloons in Corvallis to decrease.



The Corvallis Water Company is organized. The gravity flow water system has a 15,000-gallon reservoir built atop a 55-foot tower. Power is provided from Pitman's Planing Mill to the reservoir. Chinese laborers lay the water mains and pipes.



Benton County is enjoying a boom of progress and prosperity. The population is 8,000, and Corvallis growing. Civic enthusiasm is at a fever pitch, the county's leaders decide the time is right to build a new courthouse: an impressive edifice that later would be described as "an ornament to the city and a credit to the county."



Steamboats make runs three times per week between Corvallis and Portland.



Granger Post Office is established between Corvallis and Albany (discontinued 1903).



Blodgett Post Office is established. First called Emrick, the name was changed the same year.

View of the Blodgett Valley (looking to the north?). In the distace is the one-room Blodgett schoolhouse, and in the foreground are several buildings that are part of one or more farmsteads. This may be the Davis farm. Blodgett, Oregon, circa 1910.    


Construction began for the second (and present) Benton County Courthouse in Corvallis.

Benton County Courthouse, Corvallis, OR, USA<br>1980-043.0011p Newel post at Benton County Courthouse, Corvallis, Oregon, USA    


There is controversy about the cost of the new courthouse. Some believe the old courthouse was in good shape, even if it was small and somewhat crowded. Before the new courthouse opens, two of the three County Court members, who made the decision to build a new courthouse, Joseph D. Johnson and George W. Houck, are voted out of office. Only Judge Erastus Holgate survives the election.


1888 - 1889

Work continues on the Courthouse. The total cost, including furnishings, was less than $70,000. The foundation, brickwork, and finishing of the exterior cost $34,628, nearly half the project's cost. The single most costly item was the Town Clock, which cost $1,225. It bears the legend, "The Flight of Time," above its four faces.


July 4, 1888

Independence Day festivities today brought over 6,000 people to see the cornerstone laid in Benton County's new courthouse. Events include a parade, dedication ceremonies, fire hose races, and a "sham battle."



A private electric power plant is built by L.L. Hurd. The system installed is a Westinghouse dynamo.



Benton County Courthouse is completed at Corvallis, Oregon.

Photo circa 1897 Photo circa 1888-1897 Photo circa 1907-1914    


Corvallis Times begins Publication.



The Greek Goddess of Justice, Themis, stands over the entrance to the Courthouse. Such a statue generally is depicted with a blindfold to show she judges impartially. When this is pointed out to an early Corvallis judge, he responds, "It's high time that Justice saw what she is doing."

H1897-032-0023 1980-043.0010p    


A schism in the United Brethren in Christ Church divides the local congregation and affects the church's Philomath College. The discord was over several issues, but the most serious was the rule that no member of a secret society could be a member of the church. The liberals, a majority, were in favor of making several changes, including doing away with the secret society rule. They succeeded in modifying the church constitution. The radicals want to continue with the established rules, and leave the church.



A new college is established in Philomath, Oregon. Initially called the Radical College, its name is soon changed to the College of Philomath. Philomath now has two colleges.

College of Philomath building circa 1895. This is the second building constructed after the first building was destroyed by fire.    

July 1889

The county moves its offices into the new Courthouse and the Corvallis City Council convenes in one of the rooms it leased for $75 annually.


Nov. 4, 1889

Circuit Court Judge R.S. Bean presides at the first session in the new courthouse.



Return to Timeline Homepage

1840 | 1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890

1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 |1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990 | 2000



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© 2008 - 2014 Benton County Historical Society & Museum
Philomath, Oregon
The Benton County Historical Society is a nonprofit corporation that operates museum facilities for the preservation of history and culture.  Its mission is to:

  1. Preserve the material and intellectual culture of Benton County, Oregon, by acquiring and caring for significant collections that illustrate and interpret the history of the area and its relationship to the world;
  2. Enrich people's lives through exhibitions and educational programs.