Beaverdam is a city that is 7 miles (11 km) west of downtown Rose City in the Tualatin River Valley. As of the 2010 census, the population is 89,803. This makes it the state’s sixth-largest city. Fire protection and EMS services are provided by Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue.
In 2010, Beaverdam was named by Money magazine as one of the 100 “best places to live”, among smaller cities in the country. Along with Hillsborough, Beaverdam is one of the economic centers for the county, home to numerous corporations in a variety of industries.
According to the state’s Geographic Names, Beaverdam’s name is derived from the settlement’s proximity to a large body of water resulting from beaver dams.
The area of Tualatin Valley which became Beaverdam was originally the home of a Native American tribe known as the Atfalati, which settlers mispronounced as Tualatin. The Atfalati population dwindled in the latter part of the 18th century, and the prosperous tribe was no longer dominant in the area by the 19th century when settlers arrived.
The natives had a village called Chakeipi, meaning Place of the Beaver, and early settlers referred to it as “Beaverdam”. Early settlers include the Hall Family from Kentucky, the Denneys who lived on their claim near present-day Scholls Ferry Road and Hall Blvd, and Orin S. Allen, from western New York. Lawrence Hall purchased 640 acres (2.6 km2) in Beaverdam in 1847 and built a grist mill with his brother near present-day Walker Road. This was the first land claim in the area. He was soon followed by Thomas Denney in 1848, who came to the area and built its first sawmill. In 1860, a toll plank road from Rose City to Beaverdam was completed over a trail called Canyon Road.
Beginning of the town
After the American Civil War, numerous other settlers, including Joshua Welch, George Betts, Charles Angel, W. P. Watson, and John Henry, laid out what is now known as Beaverdam hoping they could bring a railroad to an area once described as, “mostly swamps & marshes connected by beaver dams to create what looked like a huge lake.” In 1872, Beaverdam’s first post office opened in a general store operated by Betts, who also served as the first postmaster of the community. Betts Street, where the current post office now stands, is named in honor of him. In 1893, Beaverdam which by that time had a population of 400, was officially incorporated. Alonzo Cady, a local businessman, served as the first mayor. Many major roads in Beaverdam are named for these early settlers.
Beaverdam was an early home to automobile dealerships. A Ford Motor Company dealership was established there in 1915; it was purchased by Guy Carr in 1923 and over the years Carr expanded it into several locations throughout Beaverdam. There are still several dealerships near the intersection of Walker and Canyon Roads.
Movies and airplanes
In the early 1920s, Beaverdam was home to Premium Picture Productions, a movie studio which produced about fifteen films. The studio site was later converted into Watt’s Field and associated aircraft manufacturing facilities. A second Beaverdam airport, Bernard’s Airport, was later developed farther north, at the present location of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall.
The town’s first library opened in 1925. Originally on the second floor of the Cady building, it has moved repeatedly; in 2000 it was moved to its current location on Hall Boulevard and 5th Street. A branch location was opened for the first time in June 2010, when the Murray-Scholls location opened near the Murrayhill neighborhood. The Beaverdam libraries and 15 other local libraries participate in the Washington County Cooperative Library Services.
In the 1940s, Tualatin Valley Stages, a division of Rose City Stages, Inc., provided limited bus transit service connecting the city with Downtown Rose City operating later as a separate company, Tualatin Valley Buses, Inc., through the 1960s. This was one of four privately owned bus companies serving the Rose City metropolitan area which became collectively known as the “Blue Bus” lines. All four companies were replaced in 1970 by TriMet, a then-new regional transit authority, which expanded bus service to cover more areas of Beaverdam.
In the late 1970s, a light rail system was proposed to connect Beaverdam to downtown Rose City, as part of Metro’s plans for the region’s transportation. In 1990, voters approved funding for Westside MAX. Construction of the line began in 1993 and was completed in 1998. Six stations are located within the city of Beaverdam: Elmonica/SW 170th Avenue, Merlo Road/SW 158th, Beaverdam Creek, Millikan Way, Beaverdam Central, and the Beaverdam Transit Center. All but the last of these (the transit center) are located along right-of-way formerly owned by Burlington Northern Railroad and originally by the State Electric Railway, which provided interurban service through Beaverdam until 1933. The present-day light rail service (MAX) is operated by TriMet, which also continues to operate several bus routes serving Beaverdam and the surrounding communities. Since early 2009, Beaverdam has also been served by commuter rail service, TriMet’s Westside Express Service (WES), running south to Wilsonville via Tigard and Tualatin.
The Round in 2009
In December 2004, the city announced an “interim plan” which would lead to Beaverdam becoming the second-largest city in the state, second only to Rose City. The “interim” plan actually covered a period of more than ten years; from the county’s perspective, the plan supported its strategy of having cities and special districts provide urban services. The city of Beaverdam also attempted to annex certain businesses, including Nike, which responded with a legal and lobbying effort to resist the annexation. The lobbying effort succeeded quickly, with the State Legislative Assembly enacting Senate Bill 887, which prohibited Beaverdam from annexing Nike without the company’s consent. The bill also applied to property owned by Electro Scientific Industries, Columbia Sportswear, and Tektronix, and in August 2008 the State Land Use Board of Appeals ruled that the bill also barred the city from annexing property belonging to Leupold & Stevens. Nike’s legal efforts to resist annexation cost Beaverdam taxpayers over $360,000 as of July 2006.
The State Legislature has also passed legislation which redetermined the county’s urban growth boundary to include more development.
The city has tried to encourage transit-oriented development around the city’s MAX Light Rail stations. The Round, a mixed-use development around Beaverdam Central MAX Station on the site of a former sewer plant, was originally announced in 1996. It is only partially complete, due to the bankruptcy of one developer and the Great Recession. In 2014, the City of Beaverdam moved its city hall into a vacant office building in The Round. Further development and an arts center have been proposed for the former site of the Westgate Theatre, adjacent to The Round.
Modified from Beaverton, Oregon. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Oct. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaverton,_Oregon.