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Friends of Historic Butteville

An Oregon nonprofit corporation


Friends of Historic Butteville is an Oregon nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation, documentation and presentation of the history of Butteville.

Butteville is a town located on the Willamette River in north French Prairie, the northern end of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. In the late 1800's Butteville was the major port town on the upper Willamette River (between Willamette Falls and the end of navigable waters where the Santiam River joins), and was a thriving agricultural and shipping community. The principal agricultural crops grown in French Prairie were wheat and hops. For a time, Butteville was the “hops capital” of Oregon.

With the advent of steam-powered stern wheelers on the upper Willamette in 1851, Butteville became the main shipping point for agricultural products going to market in Portland and beyond. Through the early 20th century, many of the buildings, docks and warehouses still stood as testament to this fact.

With the arrival of the railroad in French Prairie in 1905, the stern-wheeler began to be supplanted and Butteville began the gradual transition to a local community on the river. It still houses The Historic Butteville Store, the longest continuously operating retail establishment in the state of Oregon, as well as numerous other historic buildings.

Butteville has a long and important role in the history of French Prairie and Oregon, and we invite you to learn more and to visit.

NOTE: the web site is a work in progress as there is no single repository for all the material that comprises Butteville’s history. If you find and error or have historical material (photos, documents, etc.) you would like to include, please contact us. Sources are credited, but special thanks for Rob Forrest, Pat Leavy, Friends of Historic Champoeg and Champoeg State Heritage Area for assistance!

Read “Love at the Butteville Store,” a poem by Kim Stafford, Oregon’s Poet Laureate.

Butteville, OR – 1954 USGS Topographic Map.

The JJ Ryan Store (now Butteville Store) and adjoining Saloon selling Henry Weinhard beer, circa 1905.
[Photo courtesy Friends of Historic Champoeg]

July 4th Parade at Butteville, 1904. Note Butte Road running past The Butteville Store, Odd Fellow Hall, Masonic Temple and on down to the river.
[Photo courtesy OPRD]