History of Corvallis

History of Corvallis, Oregon

The first non-Calapooia settlers arrived in Benton County around 1845. Benton County was established on December 23, 1847 as the seventh county organized in territorial Oregon. At that time, Benton County’s western border stretched to the Pacific, with its southern border reaching California. The county was named in honor of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, a strong advocate of free land laws and the first Senator to serve for 30 years in Congress.

One of the first settlers was Joseph C. Avery, who arrived in 1845. He settled on the north side of Mary’s River near the confluence of Mary’s River and the Willamette River, the area of Avery Park today. In February 1851, Avery platted the town of Marysville on his claim. Another settler, William F. Dixon, platted “Dixon’s Addition” to the town on his claim directly north of Avery’s. That same year Marysville was named the county seat.

In 1853, to avoid confusion with Marysville, California—where all mail was going—Marysville, Oregon was renamed Corvallis, from ancient Latin for “Heart of the Valley.” In 1855, Corvallis became the first capital of the Oregon territory. An immediate benefit was the publication of the first newspaper in Corvallis, The Oregon Statesman. However, citizens were concerned over Congress’ need to approve a state capital, especially knowing that Congress had already put money into buildings in Salem. In December 1855, the legislature met in a two-story, wood-frame building donated by Avery, on the northwest corner of Second and Adams streets. The objective was to pass one bill, moving the capital to Salem. The Oregon Statesman followed.

Located in the navigable headwaters of the Willamette River, Corvallis developed into a regional trading center and a jumping off point for the California gold rush. On January 28, 1857, papers were signed incorporating Corvallis into a town, making it 150 years old in January 2007.

Today, Corvallis is a charming, tree-lined city with a population of nearly 55,000 people, including some 20,000 OSU students. Corvallis is Oregon’s fifth largest metropolitan statistical area. According to Brier Dudley, who writes for the Seattle Times, “Corvallis is a country place, with a collegiate feel, that’s also a high-tech center…” Gary Warner, of the Orange County Register, wrote, “If I hit the jackpot tomorrow, I’d quit the rat race and move to Corvallis. You’d find me at the New Morning Bakery with a big mug of coffee and a cinnamon roll, scanning the local real estate listings.”

Year after year, studies rank Corvallis one of the best places to live, work, play, grow a business—and grow happily older. Last year, Outside magazine named Corvallis one of the Top 20 Towns in America. In 2008, Moody’s Economic.com listed Corvallis #3 in its U.S. Business Vitality Index. In 2006, the publisher of the country’s top travel guide, Frommers, wrote: “Each city is ranked on 10 major criteria: Economy and jobs, cost of living, climate, education, health and healthcare, crime, transportation, leisure, arts and culture and overall quality of life.” Corvallis ranked 10th of all cities of all sizes in the nation. Last year, AARP magazine ranked Corvallis 3rd in the nation for longest life expectancy.

Corvallis is a green city, not only encased by forest but also the #1 city in the nation on the EPA’s 2009 Green Power community’s list. Corvallis is the only city on the west coast to receive this award. In 2008, Country Home magazine named Corvallis the “Best Green Place to Live in America.”

Corvallis is also home to a lot of bright people. The Creativity Index of the February 2004 Harvard Business Review placed Corvallis 15th in the nation for creativity. It states, “For a county or a region to achieve growth, it must have three Ts: technology, talent and tolerance.” And in 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Corvallis 5th on its list of Top 25 Smartest Cities.

We’re proud to call this special place the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful college town. We owe a lot of our character and unique qualities to our wonderful partnership with Oregon State University.

We hope that you will come and visit us – enjoy excellent vistas, great food, wonderful wine and a great lifestyle.