The Explorers and Pioneers of Beaverton, Oregon

January 24, 2010 in Beaverton History by hferal

It was not until 1792 that westerners first visited the Pacific Northwest when American Robert Gray sailed into the Columbia River and opened the door to exploration. Later that year, British Lt. William Broughton, serving under Capt. George Vancouver, explored 100 miles upriver. Along the way, he named a point of land along the shore in honor of his commander.

The first overland expedition to the northwest came when American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark visited in 1806. On the return trip, they camped near what is now Vancouver, Washington. Lewis characterized the area as “the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.”

In the spring of 1847, the first land claim (comprising 640 acres of beaverdam) located in what is now Beaverton was taken up by Lawrence Hall. He and his brother built a grist mill near present-day Walker Road. Their mill along with others that were soon built in the area was instrumental in supporting Oregon’s early agriculture communities.

The other important industry in early Oregon was logging and wood products. Thomas Hicklin Denney and his wife Berrilla came to Oregon in 1849 and quickly established the first sawmill in what is now the Beaverton area.

As more people came into the area, it became increasingly important to provide a system of roads to transport agricultural and wood products to Portland for shipment. In 1850 the territorial government created the Portland-Tualatin Valley Plank Road Company to build plank roads from Portland to Hillsboro along Canyon Road. The road was completed as far as Beaverton by 1860 despite various financial setbacks.