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Oregon Stringtowns Get New Names or Disappear

A popular nickname for new settlements in the 19th century was Stringtown.  The name referred to communities that were strung along a creek, river, stage road, or railroad line. Sometimes the towns grew and received permanent names, but more often they were abandoned and forgotten.

Oregon had at least four Stringtowns, all established in the 1800s.  The oldest was probably near Oregon City, along the Willamette River.  Another Stringtown existed south of Newberg along the new railroad tracks.  Stringtown Road, in Clackamas County, refers to a community that existed along a stage road built in 1874.

Southern Oregon had its Stringtown, too.  In the 1880s, a community of Chinese miners and ditch-diggers lived in tents and houses strung along the slope above Squaw Creek, just east of today’s Applegate Lake.  Ditch digging was an important part of the area’s mining operations, because water was needed for hydraulic jets and to operate wooden flumes and sluice boxes. The residents of Stringtown may have been working on the Carberry Ditch and other projects in Applegate area creeks.

Today, the settlement is gone, but Stringtown campground at Applegate Lake still retains the name. 

Sources:  Buhler, Skip. "The Origin of Our Stringtown." Friends of Historic Forest Grove. Web. 9 Dec. 2014. ;  LaLande, Jeff. "From Abbot Butte to Zimmerman Burn: A Geographic-Names History and Gazetter of the Rogue River National Forest ." Southern Oregon Digital Archives. Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Feb. 2007. Web. 9 Dec. 2014.

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.