Willamette Mission State Park

Park History

Jason Lee along with other Methodist missionaries built the Willamette Mission on the shore of the Willamette River in 1834, thus establishing the first mission for Native Americans in the West.  Ghost structures now identify the location near Mission Lake.  In 1841, during the Great Reinforcement, fifty-two skilled people arrived and the mission moved to Chemeketa (now Salem) where water power from Mill Creek could run a mill race for finished lumber. Today, the Mission Mill Museum in Salem has remaining buildings and displays.

The missionary circuit riders spread news of Oregon Country on trips east and encouraged settlers to come west.  Here, the first and second train of immigrants on the Oregon Trail used the land for mission farms.  1842, Missionary Doctor Elijah White led the first 100 immigrants into the Willamette Valley.  The Hewitt's were among them. They bought land across river from here, and led the next train in fall of 1843 before Barlow Pass was opened.  On that train was their kin, the Matheny's, who bought cabins and land from the missionaries on both sides of the river here in the spring of 1844.  The previous winter, the Applegate's wintered over in the Mission cabins here before moving southward.

The Mission Store at Chemeketa provided goods along with Willamette Falls (Oregon City) and French- Canadian Champoeg.  Willamette University was the first in the west founded by Reverand Jason Lee.  The Missionaries were active in the formation of a joint American enterprise, The American Cattle Company and the Oregon Territory provisional government of 1846.  Thus became federal proclamation, separation of land from Great Britain, this region known as the Yamhill District of the Oregon Territory.

Acreage: 1,329.17

Annual overnight attendance: 1,590

Annual day-use attendance: 313,598


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