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Willamette Falls & Landings Heritage Area Coalition recognizes the contributions of business to the rich history of the area

What would we do without barbers, auto shops, florists, bars, restaurants and other local businesses? The Willamette Falls & Landings Heritage Area Coalition has identified these businesses within the heritage area who have been in service for 50 years or more. The coalition recognizes them as part of its "Half Century Business Club." The first members of the club were recognized in 2016. These businesses deserve our patronage.

Newberg is the largest community in the western end of the heritage area, and in addition to many businesses over 50 years old, it still retains its historic downtown. Likewise St. Paul, although it only has two businesses over 50 years of age, and both Donald and Butteville that have only one.

The coalition works to highlight the natural wonders and rich heritage within the 56 river miles of the heritage area. Among the hundreds of heritage stories is that of the first peoples who made their homes, hunted, fished and traded for millennia in and around the second largest waterfalls by volume in America (Willamette Falls).

Also within the heritage area is French Prairie, the richest soil in the Willamette Valley where European-style agriculture was first practiced by French trappers and their native wives; the Butteville landing site, which was the primary upriver port on the river for passenger and freight transport; St. Paul, which holds the oldest brick Catholic church east of the Missouri; Champoeg, where the first provisional government by Americans in the Oregon Territory was created; Oregon City at the end of the Oregon Trail where wagon loads of Americans arrived making it a near certainty that the lower half of the jointly claimed British and American Oregon Country would become American, pushing America's boundaries to the Pacific.

It also was the birthplace of industry in the Pacific Northwest around the great falls of the Willamette, where lumber mills thrived and the first long distance transmission of electricity in the world took place. The Willamette Falls Locks, built in large part by Chinese labor, opened in 1873 to afford passage around the falls without having to portage around them.

Today, the heritage area boasts plans for new developments and the restoration and repurposing of older facilities. Indigenous people have returned through the Grand Ronde's purchase of the old Blue Heron Mill in Oregon City; the Willamette Locks Authority has been created to which the Corps of Engineers can transfer ownership of the Locks; multiple governments and private entities are working to build a riverwalk on the Oregon City side of the river to provide close access to the falls; and the coalition is in the last stages of seeking congressional designation for the heritage area to be a National Heritage Area.

Consider visiting a business in the Half Century Club and if you know the proprietor, congratulate her or him for the years of service provided. A list of all the current businesses in the club that are being honored is on the coalition's web site at HYPERLINK "http://www.wflha.org" www.wflha.org. The honorees of the coalition's 2016 Half Century Business Club are also listed on the web site. Butteville resident Ben Williams is a board member of Willamette Falls & Landings Heritage Area Coalition


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