|West Salem is located in Polk County
on the west bank of the Willamette River just opposite the original
town site of Salem. The first pioneer settlement in the West
Salem area occurred in 1849 on the west shore of the Willamette
below the mouth of LeCreole Creek, now called Rickreall Creek,
with the platting of a town called Cincinnati.
T. H. Hutchinson officially surveyed the community in 1855,
establishing the legal boundaries and calling the settlement
Eola. In 1853 the teacher at Eola's one-room schoolhouse was
Abigail Jane Scott, later Abigail Scott Duniway. Eola was
a thriving community for several years, however, silting of
Rickreall Creek was a deterrent to shipping. Most of the town's
buildings were destroyed by the flood of 1890. At about the
same time the less hilly farm land north of Eola was subdivided
into West Salem Addition. Orchards and hop fields covered
the undeveloped land.
West Salem's first passenger train arrived in 1909. Regular
passenger service started a few weeks later with a kerosene
powered engine called a McKeen car, nicknamed "The Skunk"
because of its exhaust fumes. The train depot was built in
1909. In 1913 a railroad bridge across the Willamette was
completed by the Salem Falls City and Western Railroad Companies.
In 1912, Walter Gerth opened a grocery store at Gerth and
Edgewater Streets; Charles Spitzer also operated a grocery
story in the area. An early cannery was owned by Bruce Cunningham;
it later became the Blue Lake Cannery.
West Salem citizens voted to approve a city charter in 1913;
at the same time they voted for prohibition and issued a warning
against future bawdy houses. The West Salem City Hall, and
the sewer system, were Public Works projects during the 1930s
Depression. In 1949, the city voted to become a part of the
City of Salem. (Corning 1947:137-142)
Excerpted from "Historical Context Statement for Salem,"
August 1992. Pages 59 to 66.The "Historical Context Statement"
was prepared for Salem, Oregon by Marianne Kadas of Marianne