Springfield Historic Context Statement

This is a really neat document that gives an in-depth account of Springfield's history and context.  A few neat excerpts include:

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"According to donation land claim records, the first settler to stake a claim in the Springfield locale was William M. Stevens, who filed on a 640-acre tract in 1848 (Genealogical Forum of Portland 1962). In 1847, he journeyed over the Oregon Trail and the Barlow Road, arriving in December of that year.

Walling (1884:451) claims that Stevens kept the “Briggs Ferry” on the “South Fork” of the Willamette in 1849. He lashed together two canoes to ferry passengers. Wagons and freight were taken in pieces, while stock was forced to swim to the opposite bank of the stream."

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The Willamette River in this area was navigable for large vessels only during periods of high water. The steamboat Relief did manage a single trip up the river from Eugene to Springfield in 1862 to deliver a load of freight. In 1869 the steamer Echo also stopped at Eugene
and Springfield to take up freight (Yates 1959:7).

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Springfield had the distinction of being the only “wet spot” between Salem and Oakland in the years between 1910 and 1912. There were nine saloons in the city and much ado was made over the fact that the streetcar would bring loads of people over from “dry” Eugene to visit these establishments. Prohibition did not come to Springfield until 1915 (Graham 1978b:7; Special collections n.d.:Box 66/19, Folder 2B).


A historic context statement is a document used in planning for a community’s historic resources. It identifies the broad patterns of historic development of the community and identifies historic property types, such as buildings, sites, structures, objects or districts, which may represent these patterns of development. In addition, a historic context statement provides direction for evaluating and protecting significant historic resources.

The original historic context statement for the City of Springfield was completed in 1991 by Lynda Sekora of Koler/Morrison Planning Consultants. It included an overview of the history of Springfield and its historic resources from the city’s beginnings through 1940.  The original document was updated and revised in 1999 by Michelle L. Dennis, Historic Preservation Consultant of Eugene, Oregon. The revised version expands the original historic overview of Springfield to include the years between 1940 and 1955.