|The City of Salem dates its founding from the
establishment in 1840 of Jason Lee's second attempt at a Methodist
Mission in the Oregon Country.
Due to flooding in the original location, Lee moved the headquarters
of the Oregon Mission south to the confluence of Mill Creek
and the Willamette River (an area just north of what is today
Discouraged in their endeavors to educate and convert the
few natives, the missionaries turned their efforts toward
laying out a town site and selling lots to finance the Oregon
Institute, later to become Willamette University, the first
university in the West.
The platting of the new town, originally called Chemeketa
and later Salem, both meaning "place of peace,"
was completed in 1847. Although designated the territorial
capital in 1851, Salem would not become the official capital
of Oregon until 1855, after some squabbles with Marysville
Salem grew slowly during the nineteenth century and the community
was best described as small town. A stone capitol building
was constructed in 1876, with other state and county buildings
following. The city became the hub of state government, mid-valley
commerce, and a center of education.
The twentieth century brought more growth. Today, Salem is designated as one of the most populated cities in Oregon.
Researched and written by Paul Porter and Susan Gibby.