The next station on our route is Chemawa, although the little
Oregon Electric station house is a half-mile west of Chemawa
We associate Chemawa with the Indian school which bears that
name. The school was moved to Salem from Forest Grove in the
1880s. The campus was built on both sides of the Oregon &
California Railroad track, later to become the Southern Pacific.
It didn't take people long to realize that was a stupid idea.
Not only did it mean that everyone who lived there had to
listen to trains roaring by all night long, it was hazardous
to move across campus because of having to watch for trains.
When the new Chemawa campus was built in 1980s, the buildings
were located on one side of the track and a little distance
At the schools beginning, it trained Indians from nearby regions.
But as time went on, it collected Native Americans from as
far away as Alaska and the Navajo Reservation of New Mexico
The name Chemawa means "gravelly soil" and was attached
to the band of Indians who lived there before the coming of
the whites. The Chemeketans of Salem and the Indians at Chemawa
were all part of the Santiam Tribe of the Kalapuya. (There
are 30 ways of spelling the tribe's name, by the way.)
Going through this part of our route in the last decade of
the century, we would be cutting across the corner of what
is now the city of Keizer. But at the time we are making our
run, the name is associated with Keizer Bottom, along the
Willamette, far to the west. Its name came from Thomas D.
Keizer, who took up the first homestead in the area and who
served as a member of the provisional government in 1843.
As we leave Chemawa, we come within range of stations we now
associate with the City of Salem, such as the Deaf School
and Highland. The Oregon State Fairgrounds also became a popular
destination around Labor Day, with special excursions from
Portland helping to fill the fairgrounds. All these were at
the outskirts of Salem, and we have another mile or two before
we come to the heart of the city.
Written by Wes Sullivan
See Origins of the Oregon