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Mountain View Historical Information
City of Oregon City

Mountain View Cemetery, established in 1854, is one of the oldest cemeteries in the West. The first known burial occurred in December 1847 for infant John Barclay, son of Dr. and Mrs. Forbes Barclay. The second oldest headstone belongs to the former Dr. William Allen who died June 9, 1851.

On April 29, 1863 William Livingston and Mary Holmes deeded five acres of land for $5.00 to the city council of Oregon City for the use as a public cemetery. They also deeded one acre of adjacent land to the Masonic Lodge, also for a cemetery. These two cemeteries are the two oldest sections of Mountain View Cemetery, which now include fifty-four acres of property for ground and above ground burials.

Historic Oregon City

Oregon City has a history of human settlement dating back hundreds of years, when Native Americans camped near the Willamette River falls. In the late 1820’s, former hunters, trappers and explorers of the powerful British fur-trading operation – The Hudson’s Bay Company – settled near the falls with the help of Dr. John McLoughlin, a chief factor of the Company. They moved on, but McLoughlin persisted in establishing a foothold in the area, and had a sawmill and flourmill built near the falls, making use of the first water power in Oregon City. Hudson’s Bay Company employees buried in Mountain View cemetery include physicians Forbes Barclay and explorer Peter Skene Ogden.

In the 1840’s, small companies of Americans began to arrive in the Willamette Valley, via the Oregon Trail. In attempt to forestall an American claim to the area, McLoughlin had Oregon City platted by Sidney Moss, who had arrived with a group of settlers in 1842. Moss is buried in the Pioneer cemetery here. However, in 1843, the region’s settlers voted to establish a provisional government under the United States, and two years later an Oregon City merchant, George Abernathy, became the first provisional governor and Oregon City the first provisional seat of government for what was to become the Oregon Territory. Many early pioneers of the 1840’s who established donation land claims in the area are buried in Mountain View Cemetery, including William Barlow (1845), Robert and Jane Caufield (1847), Peter Rinearson and L.D.C. Latourette.

By 1846, Oregon City had some seventy house and over five hundred inhabitants. In that year the first newspaper west of the Missouri River, The Oregon Spectator, was published in Oregon City; the members of the Masonic fraternity organized the first lodge west of the Mississippi, and the first American flag owned by the provisional government was raised.

In 1849 General Joseph Lane, appointed the first Territorial Governor by President Polk, was inaugurated at the Rose Farm, home of William L. Holmes, who is buried in the Masonic Cemetery. Oregon City was designated as the territory’s first capital, and continued as such until 1852, when the seat of government was moved to Salem.

California’s gold rush of 1848 spurred Oregon City’s development through the demand for flour, wheat and timber. This growth encouraged an influx of additional settlers, some of whom had first tried their luck in the gold fields to the south. Among these settlers and merchants were Charles Pope (1851), Colonel W.L. White (1850), Charles Ganong (1859) and William Whitlock.

In 1849 Absolom Hedges platted the town of Canemah on his donation land claim, just south of Oregon City. It became a major boat-building center on the Willamette River and served as a portage point around the falls. Development of river traffic drew boat builders and steamboat captains to the area, including Captain John T. Apperson, George Pease and Peter Paquet, all of whom along with Hedges, are buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Oregon City’s modern industrial base dates from 1864, when the Jacob brothers established a woolen mill (now the site of the paper mill in Oregon City). Two years later W.W. Buck, buried in the Masonic Cemetery, built the first modern paper mill, initiating the city’s most important industry. The first long-distance commercial electric power transmission in the United States began operation in 1889 between Oregon City and Portland: one of the investors was George Harding, also buried in the Masonic Cemetery.

The history of the city, created by its people, is still visible in many old houses and structures dotting the bluffs and lining the river. Many of the pioneers and settlers who contributed so much energy to the development of the Pacific Northwest now rest here, in Mountain View Cemetery.