By Michael L. Wong
With a name like Beaverton, it seems appropriate that we start our story off with these little guys: Castor Canadensis, the North American Beaver. Thousands of these aquatic mammals lived and built dams that created lush environments for the many native inhabitants that called the Beaverton area their home.
The Atfalati branch of the Kalapuya Tribe were one of these inhabitants who benefited greatly from the beaver’s existance. In fact, they even gave this area the name Chakeipi or “Place of the Beaver“.
Following the path pioneered by Lewis and Clark in 1804, the first modern day settlers to Beaverton made the difficult journey across the Oregon Trail in 1847. Like the Afalati, these settlers referred to the place where they staked out their land claims as “Beaverdam Land“.
The families of Lawrence Hall and Augustus Fanno were the only ones living on Beaverdam Land in 1847 but in just over 20 years, there were enough homesteaders here to build a town. In December of 1868, the township of “Beaverton” was officially registered with Washington County.
In those early days, since Beaverton was mostly made up of trees, ponds and marshy wetlands created by beaver dams, the industrious pioneers cleared the land, milled lumber and planted hearty vegetables like potatoes, onions and radishes.
As they cut down trees and drained the ponds, the rich soil that remained attracted many new farmers. In fact, in just 25 years since becoming a town, there were enough people in Beaverton to incorporate as a city. In 1893, businessman Alonzo Cady became Beaverton’s first mayor.
Beaverton grew steadily after that. In 1915, Otto Erickson and his son-in-law Guy Carr built and sold Ford Automobiles; in 1922, silent movies were made at Premium Pictures Productions; and in the 1930’s, Bernard Airfield became one of the busiest non-commercial airports in the region. By 1940, the population within city limits was 1,052 persons.
Today, as our population approaches 100,000, we at the Beaverton Historical Society feel it important to reflect from time to time on those who came before us. Their hard work and accomplishments created a strong foundation and if they could see what we have built, we know that they would be proud of the amazing city that Beaverton has become.
We honor these early settlers with the names that grace our city’s streets:
Lawrence Hall (Blvd.), William Watson (Av.), Otto Erickson (Av.), Thomas Denney (Rd.), Orrin Allen (Blvd.), William Walker (Rd.), Owen Murray (Blvd.), and William Hocken (Av.), just to name a few.
This post was written by Michael Wong