Hometown History and a Giveaway!

We don’t often think of writing about where we live. We love to write about history and the old west, but for this month’s blog, it occurred to me that I should write about my hometown of Estacada, Oregon. Not that I haven’t written a little about the area before. I’ve shared Philip Foster’s farm with you as it’s a wonderful historical site. But the old Estacada Park, located south of what was once the Estacada Hotel, was built to attract throngs of streetcar-riding city dwellers to what was considered an amusement resort in the mountain foothills.


 The Oregon Journal described Estacada as the Mecca and Medin of summertime picnickers and thousands of other pleasure seekers as well. It beautiful park and hotel made it especially attractive. The Estacada and Cazadero train would leave from the east approach of the Morrison Bridge in Portland every two hours daily. The distance was 36 miles, and the entire ride gave folks an interesting and excellent idea of the Willamette Valley in the vicinity of Portland. People were whirled through a fine suburb and farm country with grain fields, orchards, stock pastures, berry farms, chicken ranches and stretches of forests. The paper described the line running to “new country” where the land is being cleared for new homes.


Estacada is a spanish word and it means staked out or marked with stakes. It was first suggested by George Kelly as a name for the town site at a meeting of the Oregon Water Power Townsite Company directors on December 27, 1903. Kelly had selected the name at random from a U.S. Map which showed Llano Estacado, in Texas. If Kelly’s suggestion had not been drawn from the hat, the town could have been named Rochester, Lowell or Lynn. The name Estacada is also used in Arizona. Having done a report on the history of Estacada back in high school, we found that some folks said the town was named for Esther Cada, the daughter of one of the more prominent citizens back in the day. Some of the older folks in town still say that’s how it got its name!


The Oregon Water Power Railway Co. began streetcar service from Sellwood to Estacada in 1905. In 1907, the name changed to the Portland Railway Light and Power Co. Passenger service and continued until 1932.

Other than the park and hotel that had its own restaurant, there was also a Confectionary and the Ice Cream Store along with a grocery, the First State Bank and various other businesses. Some of the buildings are still there today including many original houses and churches. When doing my history report, one of the things that stood out was the number of saloons in the tiny hamlet. Fourteen! And that was back in the early 1900s. Today the population of Estacada is about 3600. That was a lot of watering holes for one tiny little town. But as it was considered a tourist spot, I can see the amount.

Maybe one day I’ll use Estacada as a setting for a book. Quite a few movies and television shows have been shot around here including Kevin Costner’s The Postman, The Librarians, (I remember when Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek the Next Generation was in town directing and gave a special talk at the library. That was in 2015 as I recall), Without a Paddle, Extraordinary Measures, Behind the Mask, and more. Maybe this is why as teenagers, we couldn’t wait to get out of here, and now most of us have returned. Our little town isn’t a bad place to live and we like it here.

What’s the history of your hometown? Have you ever delved into it? I’ll pick a random person from the comments below to win one free e-book of mine of their choice!






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Kit Morgan is the author of over 100 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!

30 thoughts on “Hometown History and a Giveaway!”

  1. Estacada sounds so amazing, I’ve never been and I’m so intrigued! I live in a small town as well, it’s in the south and it was just built five years ago. It is about two hours drive from the nearest city and just near the mountains. The population here is much less than 3600, I’d say it’s about 2000. Our town develops more each passing day and we get a lot of tourists, which is so hectic at times. We just celebrated another grand opening of a general store yesterday, we used to have only two and now we’ve got another. The history of our town is the most whimsical thing ever, it was actually one of the earliest spot where someone had buried their treasure in the the 1700s. Which is what attracts the tourist and prompted the building of the town. People speculate that it was either a pirate or a governor that had been very desperate and was being chased, but either way the treasure was long retrieved, leaving only a giant hole leading to a strong empty cave. I daydream a lot about the treasure and the cave, it’s so mysterious and so exciting. I feel like sometimes if I just trace the walls on the inside of the cave with my fingers long enough, I’ll know in my heart just who the person was.

  2. I lived in many places when I was growing up all in New Jersey. I know George Washington home is there. Where I live now is Nebraska and Lincoln is home to the Cornhusker football team University of Nebraska which was founded here in the 1860’s So there is that history the other is that for decades maybe a century or more the Sandhill Cranes have landed through out Nebraska every March for about 6 weeks a 20 minutes drive north and you can see there feeding grounds along the river.

    • Cool! I’ve always wanted to just drive through New Jersey and see all it has to offer. I’ve only been through a few times but we didn’t stop except for gas.

  3. Between my county and our little town, there’s a lot of history. Living on the East Coast in one of the original thirteen colonies means history here goes back. In the state park, there’s the famous King and Queen seats, a rock formation, of the Susquehannock people.

    My town is the county seat, but another town nearly became the national capital. Historical battles from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

    In the early 1900s, my town had a summer resort, Del Haven. I learned about it because of a tire repair. The local garage has a bunch of old clippings and ephemera framed on the walls. There’s still one cottage left on an adjacent property, but it’s been left in disrepair.

    Our county is a mix of suburban and farmland.

    There’s so much more I could share.

    • I have some friends who moved around a lot and never really settled anywhere until they became adults. But now that they are settled, they always want to travel!

  4. I grew up in a small town (maybe about 1000 people) where everyone said hi as you walked down the street rather you knew them or not. They even said hi to our dog. I don’t live there any longer, but the town is slightly larger now.

  5. My hometown of Derby sprouted up as housing for aviation engineers in the mid 1900s. Before that it was mainly farmland and the town center was called El Paso. Sadly, the majority of original buildings have been torn down and replaced with newer ones.
    My children call our current home (where most of them were born) their hometown. It’s a small town in SW Kansas surrounded by farms and ranches. They love learning the history of our town and it is likely that my husband and I will stay here indefinitely. This place just feels like home.

  6. our small town of Russellville, IN looks like the old western towns with metal awnings over the extra wide side walks – many see it as deserted, but much goes on at the Pub and the bank on a daily basis! Thanks!

  7. oh cool. I love to read about the history of a place. So many interesting facts can be learned. When I was nine we moved from Pasadena to Hesperia (two years) and then onto Apple Valley. Apple Valley I remember the most about. It was a farming, agriculture area. I really didnt look into the area too much. But we lived 20 minutes away from Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. Mom met Dale at a beauty shop and they became friends. They set up hair appointments for the same day so they could talk and go out for coffee afterwards. We werent allowed onto their property but Dale would bring the kids over to our house and we would all have a great time while our moms had coffee and talked. From what I understand though the town had been a farming, agriculture community for many, many years. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • I have some friends who moved to Apple Valley years ago. I think they’re still there. They loved it when they first moved but I haven’t been in contact with them for a while. That’s so cool about your family living down the road from Roy and Dale!

  8. I am currently living in a small city in Ontario, Canada called Guelph. I grew up in the largest city in Canada, Toronto. so going from the big city of millions to small city of under a 100,000 at the time was a big deal. My city is very famous for two reasons, it is one of the biggest Agriculture University’s in Canada, And it was home to Col. John McCrae who wrote In Flanders’s Fields.

  9. Where I live, they are having their 75th anniversary… the town has some interesting info on how and when it was created… important locations that still stand today, etc.

    • Each town has it’s own unique history and you never really know all the details until you start to do a little digging. I forgot all about the park that was here. I knew about the hotel but had never seen the pictures I posted for the blog until a few days ago. I think it’s good to know your town’s history, Colleen. Even better when the town celebrates it!

  10. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Albuquerque has a rich, wild history and I love to spend time learning about the history of Albuquerque with from the settlements of the early Indians, the arrival of the white hunters and calvrymen, to the present. The city has become a blended mix of Spanish, Indian and white settlers because of the availabilty of water from the Rio Grande River and the climate that rarely is very cold. My husband and I moved our family here because of that reason. We moved from the cold, wet winters of New Jersey to the mild winters of New Mexico because my health. My doctors suggested that the warmer, clean air would be better for me than the cold, smog filled air of New Jersey. We have lived here over 30 years and I am still able to live without the wheelchair the doctors said was in my future. Or family has always the time to learn about the richness of this southwestern city and especially the history of the early Indians.

  11. Sadly, when I went through school, people were not much taught about local history. I do know the area in Northern New York had important roles in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. There is much good history up there. I know that has improved now and much more is available and being celebrated. There are some wonderfully restored forts and other sites up there. Fort Ticonderoga is a favorite and we have attended some awesome reenactments there over the years. It is actually an older settled area by about 100 years than where we live now.

    We now live in Jonesborough, TN which is the oldest town in TN. The downtown area is a historic district and most buildings date rom the early 1800’s. Some a block or two off Main date in the late 1700’s. There were two fires that burned out much of the town’s original buildings which is why most of the buildings date as they do. This whole area is rich in history. It is just over the mountains from North Carolina and was the Western Frontier at one point. Davey Crockett was born near the river not far from town. President Andrew Johnson’s home was in a town a few miles away and is a national park. Andrew Jackson practiced law here in the old courthouse. Early state leaders lived here. In a neighboring town, there is a reconstruction of Fort Watauga which was an original settlement and the site of Indian wars. It was also the starting point for the Over Mountain Men who gathered and marched through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Kings Mountain to fight the British during the Revolutionary War. A battle I had never heard of but have learned is considered a turning point in the war. There are reenactments of Indian, Revolutionary War, and Civil War battles. The first abolitionist press was located here. The region as a whole did not support the Confederacy but split loyalties did cause problems. I know people who supported a side different than the majority of those in town were forced to move. Sadly it is also where the KKK originated. Moonshine was and is a big thing here in the mountains.

      • I think you would enjoy the International StoryTelling Festival. It is held the first weekend of October. Like so many things it was canceled last year and may be again this. When it starts up again, we have Music On The Square in front of the courthouse every Friday night from May into Sept. Everyone brings a blanket or chair and sets up in front while the band sets up win front of the steps. The street is blocked off and people picnic, visit, get ice cream and generally have a good time. You need to spend a bit more time in the area. I know we travel whenever we can and are guilty of missing so much because we don’t have the time to spend.

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