It used to be a thriving shipping town in the northern Willamette Valley. Now this tiny community is a mere shadow of its former self, but it hasn’t quite given up the ghost yet. In fact, two days a week it comes alive in a big way.
In the 1850’s Butteville, Oregon was a thriving port town about halfway between Portland and Salem. Sternwheelers moved agriculture goods up and down the Willamette River.
The self-proclaimed “Hops capital of Oregon” boasted two churches, a school, a Masonic Temple, an Oddfellow’s Hall, a post office and two grain elevators. It was a happening place, until about 1907…when the railroad eliminated the need for the sternwheeler. And Butteville slowly faded. Only the town’s general store remained… And it’s still standing today.
The Historic Butteville Store is the longest continuously operating retail establishment in the state of Oregon. Ben Williams is president of the Friends of Historic Butteville.
“Part of our goal was trying to restore the store as a community center as it had been for so many years in the past,” he says.
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And what a job they have done. There is no escaping Butteville’s colorful history. The walls tell the story of what the town once was. This is the nerve center of Butteville. The store is owned by the Oregon State Parks Department and is literally tied to nearby Champoeg State park by a 2-mile biking and hiking trail.
Jordan Scoggins in the chief cook and bottle-washer-manager here AT the Butteville Store. And if his goal is to make sure people enjoy themselves here… he’s batting a thousand. The place was buzzing. We managed to get a seat, but we hear in the summer, the line goes out the door. But we can tell you, it will be worth the wait, and you’ll meet some really great folks. Thursdays are soup and grilled sandwiches…and in the winter, the first and third Saturdays feature special dinners and live music. In the summer, its every Saturday.
The setting – five miles off Interstate-5, the nearby river, the sense of history, the friendliness. This is a place Mark Twain might have written about and Norman Rockwell might have drawn…if only they’d known about it. There’s not much here, but there is enough. To get here, take the Aurora exits off I-5 about 21-miles south of Portland.