Eugene Oregon History
The Kalapuya Indians were the first people to live in the Willamette Valley. Archeological evidence indicates that the Kalapuya occupied the area for several centuries.
A hunting and gathering people, the Kalapuya frequently burned the grasses of the valley to clear brush and provide a better habitat for the game and vegetation they depended on for food. By the time the first white settlers arrived, the valley was an open grassy prairie with isolated white oaks and other trees.
The first cabin in what is now known as Eugene was erected in 1846 by Eugene Franklin Skinner. It served as a general trading post and was authorized as a post office in 1850. This was the first official recognition of the community.
Eugene City was platted and recorded in 1852 by Skinner and Judge David Risdon. However, the site had its disadvantages. After heavy winter rains it became a quagmire and earned the nickname “Skinner’s Mud Hole.” A revised town plat was made on higher ground in 1853.
Settlers and industry arrived simultaneously. A millrace was dug in the channel of an old slough and a flour mill and a woolen mill used its water for power. Saw mills were also established along the banks of the Willamette River. By 1858, there were between 500 and 600 inhabitants in Eugene City. According to one account, the residents were served by nine dry goods stores, two book stores, a drug store, a bakery, a restaurant, two hotels, two saloons, two printing offices, three doctors, four lawyers, four clergy, one newspaper and an assortment of blacksmiths, cabinet makers, painters, and other tradespeople.
Eugene City was incorporated in 1862. Two years later, the community adopted a charter and a new name – City of Eugene. The first election for a city council was held in 1865. The council or Board of Trustees as it was called then, consisted of a president, recorder, treasurer, street commissioner, marshal and six trustees.
The first telegraph reached Eugene from Portland in 1864 and the city became a stagecoach stop in 1865 when the Territorial Road reached Eugene.
Transportation took a great leap forward in 1871. The Oregon-California Railway (now Southern Pacific) was completed to Eugene in that year and the whole town turned out to celebrate.