Lake Oswego — The History

Lake Oswego — where it began

Once occupied by the Clackamas Indians, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that Lake Oswego was transformed into a booming industry town. In 1847, a man by the name of Albert Durham founded Oswego, naming it after his birthplace in New York. In 1851, Durham platted Old Town, the first area in the community that began to truly see a lot of growth. He built the town’s first industry, a sawmill on Sucker Creek, now known as Oswego Creek. In 1865, Durham sold the land to John C. Trullinger, who furthered Durham’s efforts in making the town a prosperous one.

While iron deposits had been found as early as 1841, it was not until 1865 that the town’s first manufacturing company (the Oregon Iron Company) began operation. The Oregon Iron Company was the first of three companies that helped make Oswego an industrial center. At its peak in 1890, the iron industry in Oswego employed more than 300 workers and produced more than 12,305 tons of pig iron. It was the state’s biggest manufacturing enterprise and because of it, the town prospered and saw tremendous growth.

In 1886, a narrow-gauge railroad between Oswego and Portland was built. Around this time, the iron industry, which made the town so prosperous in the beginning, began to fail, and the owners of the Oregon Iron & Steel Company turned their attention to land development. The city of Oswego was incorporated in 1910, and power poles were erected to provide electricity to the community. Between 1910 and 1941, the Ladd Estate Company bought approximately 24,000 acres from the Oregon Iron & Steel Company and transformed the depressed iron town into a magnificent lakeside community. A country club and golf course were built along with a polo field and giant indoor riding arena. Park-like neighborhoods were created, and new boulevards were laid out under the slogan, “Live where you play.” In 1960, the city changed its name to Lake Oswego and today, it is considered one of the best places to live in Oregon.

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