Today on the Land Use Trail: Oregon City

We’re continuing our tour of our Land Use Trail. Today, March 3: Oregon City, the oldest incorporated city west of the Mississippi.

AboutOregon City is located along the Willamette River, in Clackamas County. In 1845, it was the first U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains to be incorporated, as well as Oregon’s first capital. The city was founded by the “Father of Oregon,” John McLoughlin, and was prominent as the industrial capital of the territory; famous for necessities such as lumber, flour, steamboats, and paper. The city maintains its rich history through its beautiful 19th century architecture which lines Main Street, as well as the historical landmark, Ermatinger House. 

Key Fact: Willamette Falls--the seventeenth largest waterfall in the world--is in the middle of Oregon City and a key reason for its location. The falls have been industrial in nature since the 1860s, dominated by paper mills for most of this time. Following the closure of one of the two remaining mills in 2011, however, the site now represents one of the Portland region's most significant redevelopment opportunities--right in downtown Oregon City.

Another Cool Fact:  Oregon City has another unique landmark: the nation's only municipally-operated outdoor elevator, which connects the downtown core beside the river to residential and commercial districts above. The elevator was built in 1954, replacing the first elevator built in 1915. 


Oregon City celebrates its role as the "End of the Oregon Trail." Learn more about exploring its fascinating history at

A fun time to visit downtown Oregon City is during its First City Celebration, held in July.

Learn More:

Going to Oregon City? Share your photos with us! We'll pass them on.

See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

Help us create a better land use future for Oregon at

Photo credit: Ian Sane, via Flickr. Creative Commons.