History

Forest Grove “A Place Where Families and Businesses Thrive”

Since its founding by Oregon Trail pioneers in 1841, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism have inspired great things to happen in Forest Grove. It is here that they founded the first university west of the Mississippi, planted the first of Oregon’s Willamette Valley’s famous pinot noir grapes, and today attracts creative artists, entrepreneurs, academics and winemakers.

Harvey L. Clark was an educator, missionary, and early settler. A native of Vermont, he moved to Oregon Country and then to West Tuality on the Tualatin Plains. This location would later become the town of Forest Grove, and Clark would take a land claim at the location. He participated in the Champoeg Meetings and voted for the creation of the Provisional Government of Oregon. He helped found the Tualatin Academy in 1848 that later became Pacific University. Tabitha Moffatt Brown was a pioneer emigrant who traveled the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country. There she assisted in the founding of Tualatin Academy, which would grow to become Pacific University. Brown was honored in 1987 by the Oregon Legislature as the “Mother of Oregon.”

Forest Grove has three historic districts, the eighteen block Clark District, the Walker-Naylor District, and the Painters Wood District. They are Washington County’s only designated Nationally Recognized Historic Districts with homes dating back to the 1850’s.

Cornelius “Oregon’s Family Town”

Many settlers came to the Tualatin Valley following the Oregon Trail. One of those settlers, T.R. Cornelius purchased a 1300-acre farm in the area before he went off to enlist with local Washington County Volunteers. With the volunteers he fought in 5 battles against native peoples following the Whitman Massacre. Shortly after, T.R. headed to California in pursuit of the gold rush. Cornelius returned to his farm in the eventual Cornelius city boundaries where he built a large grain warehouse, creamery, two sawmills, a grocery store, several houses and barns in the area.

Cornelius’ farm and warehouse became a boon for the local farmers thus attracting more residents to the area. Around this same time, helping to further the development in the area, Ben Holladay built a railroad depot that housed a post and telegraph office. With all of his economic contributions to the community, the city was named after T.R. Cornelius. Cornelius was officially incorporated in the Spring of 1893.

Are you a chamber member?

It’s time to join the area’s largest business organization.

Join Today