Looking ahead as we leave Concomly, we find we are approaching
Waconda, Hopmere, Quinaby and Chemawa.
The Oregon Electric decided to use famous Indian names in
locating the stations along its route. So how did Hopmere
get in there? Well, that's a story in itself, but first, we've
got to get to Waconda.
You are running through some of the richest farming land in
one of the most productive valleys in the world. By the end
of the 20th century, 125 marketable crops would be grown in
Marion County, through which you are traveling.
Waconda was an old name in the Willamette Valley, originally
applied to a community about a mile south of present-day Gervais.
However, that little village disappeared, only to be resurrected
in the name applied by the Oregon Electric to one of its rural
stations. The name apparently was brought to Oregon from the
language of the Sioux Indians, meaning, roughly, a consecrated
place. Waconda never lost its rural flavor, although a post
office was established there in 1912 and its population in
1915 was listed as 177.
The Oregon Electric attached the name Chemeketa to its next
station. Chemeketa is the original Indian name for Salem and
for the band of Indians who lived there. The people around
the new station disliked the name, however, and insisted on
calling their area Hopmere, after its principal crop. Lewis
A. McArthur, in "Oregon Geographic Names," calls
the name Hopmere "a silly mongrel."
Every year about harvest time, the travel to Hopmere was heavy,
as people loaded their baggage and tents on the Oregon Electric
and went to Hopmere and adjacent stations to spend the harvest
season in the field picking hops.
Just down the track is Quinaby, named after one of the most
colorful Indians in the region. In 1854, when all the Indians
in the Valley were removed to the new reservation at Grand
Ronde, Quinaby decided life was much more comfortable in Salem.
So, despite regulations to the contrary, Quinaby, who was
about 50 at the time, mounted his old horse and headed for
Salem on the Fourth of July. He arrived shouting praises of
the Great White Father in Washington, D. C.
Actually, he expected to share in the barbecue he knew was
held annually on that date. Unfortunately, it wasn't held
that year. That didn't stop Quinaby, who scrounged food from
his white friends, reminding them of how he had stood up for
the whites in the early days. He lived in Salem for about
30 years, cadging food, conducting Indian gambling games and
being generally accepted by the populace. He died about 1885
Written by Wes Sullivan
See Origins of the Oregon