Tualatin: 95 Acres, From Ice Age to Agriculture to Industry

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 11:43 am

Tualatin: 95 Acres


What I know as the Community of Tualatin is not confined by the map lines that limit its official boundaries as an incorporated municipality. Never was! When I was growing up as a rural child in the ‘30s and ‘40s my sisters and I attended Tualatin Elementary and our family communicated with the outside world via a Tigard telephone number and a Sherwood mailing address.

The 95-acre Orr farm is located on the south side of Tulalatin-Sherwood Road, technically within the lines of the City of Sherwood, but I experienced that 95-acre farm as part of my Tualatin community. I first knew the property as the “Clear place” because the great grandparents of Martinazzi family friend Topy Reber were named Clear and their family lived there for some time around the turn of the last century. My dad always called the property the Clear place, and I guess I got that from him. The Martinazzi family was very close to Bill and Grace “Topy” Reber, and Topy’s mother, Lola Smith, lived there with her grandparents, the Clears, who built the house. An interesting aside is that the Clears, according to Dan Reber, either sold or traded the farm for a blacksmith shop located along Boones Ferry and Martinazzi Avenue, close to the bridge. It occurs to me that may have been the location of Billy Greenwood’s smithy in the 1850s.

But I digress, as I usually do when talking about Tualatin history.

The story of what is now known as the 95-acre Orr farm really began when the floods of the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago, deposited fine soils from Montana, Idaho and Washington on the north side of the property along Tualatin-Sherwood Road, but the floods scraped to bedrock the southern portion, part of the Tonquin scablands.

Early on the Atfalati Indians lived on the land, and in 1852 Daniel Sebastian became the holder of 320 acres, the first donation land claim to the property. The land then passed through several different farm owners, and finally in 1942 the Daniel Orr family came from Nebraska to Oregon and bought 160 acres of the land after renting it for a year. Florence, second eldest of the eight Orr children, twice sent her son Terry Pennington to spend time with his Orr grandparents on the farm. Terry recently told me some history of his grandparents’ farm and lent the Tualatin Historical Society some precious black-and-white Brownie photos, which we have gratefully scanned into our archives. And as we all have heard, a picture is worth a thousand words. Being just an old farm girl myself, whose family did not think to record daily farm life with a camera, I deeply appreciate these photos. Although there are no photos to record the events, Glen Orr, Daniel’s son, sold 150 to 200 truckloads of rock that was blasted off the back portion in the 1950s.

Speaking of digressing, here is an amusing story. Terry recently told me that he remembers that around noon in the summer of 1944, a fire truck sped west on the road with siren blaring. “Oh Grandpa,” Terry said, “somebody’s farm is on fire!” Grandpa Orr replied “don’t worry Terry, that’s just the Tualatin Volunteer Firemen going to Sherwood for beer.”

Florence’s brother Ray inherited the Orr farm. By the time Ray passed, the original quarter-section was down to 95 acres, but it was still known as the Orr farm. Since Ray’s death, the land has been listed with a commercial real estate agency, and is zoned for industrial use. From Ice Age to family farm to factory—times change, but perhaps not always for the better. A wise old farmer and friend recently told me that if the Willamette Valley were properly farmed, it could feed the world. As the world’s human population is growing at a rapid rate, some of the richest and most arable land in the world is being covered with concrete.

Is Daniel turning in his grave? And when the land is used for industrial purposes, will we feel it belongs to the Tualatin Community? Questions it would take someone wiser than myself to answer.

Loyce Martinazzi
Loyce Martinazzi
was born and raised in Tualatin and is passionate about Tualatin History. She is Co-Founder of the Tualatin Historical Society and Co-Author of Tualatin…From the Beginning.

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times Tualatin During the Great Depression

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 10:53 am

Tualatin during the Great Depression


The Great Depression of 1929 to 1939 couldn’t have come at a worse time for the village of Tualatin. The sawmill and brickyard had already been closed and jobs were few and far between. Reasons for the 10 year global depression are complex. By 1933 unemployment was at 25% and wages had fallen by 65%. Many farmers lost their land because of falling crop prices which led to unpaid mortgages and taxes. With banks folding many people withdrew what cash they had and stuffed it under the mattress, further decreasing the country’s money supply.

In 1932 President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the New Deal, and in the nine years between the launching and the completion of that program, 42 federal agencies helped put men to work and to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure. The iconic Timberline Lodge and Columbia River Highway were part of the program, a stunning legacy of FDR’s vision.

Here in Tualatin the Country Club hired Walt Eames to be head greenskeeper. He and his family lived in the tiny old Southern Pacific depot that had been moved to the golf course. Several other local men got part- time work in summer caring for the grounds. Valley Farms Dairy, owned and operated by Harry and Dina Muniksma, hired men to hand milk the cows twice a day. My dad milked there, 4 am and 4 pm for $1 per day. One cent was taken out for Social Security. Between milkings he went home and took care of his own farm and family.

Adult ballgames between Tualatin, Sherwood and Tigard were popular. Nothing else to do and they cost nothing, with lots of cheering for the favorite team. People would get together to play music and dance. That cost nothing and was good for moral. A song from that era echoed the feeling. “Every morning, every evening, ain’t we got fun. Not much money, oh but honey, ain’t we got fun.”

My parents were too proud to take what was called “relief,” or welfare, but many others were forced to take it or starve, as there were very few jobs. Farm families often found relatives at their doorstep around supper time. Portland Canning Company in Sherwood paid 2 cents a pound for strawberries, and pickers were paid 1 cent. Kids as young as 6 picked Marshall strawberries in the cold dewy mornings of May. I know. Some folks worked in the fields during the day and then worked swing or graveyard shift at the cannery, still barely surviving.

Very few automobiles traveled the roads, most folks rode shank’s mare. Even if you had a car, you couldn’t afford the gas. I remember that Art Itel had a gas station at the intersection of Tualatin and Herman Road, right where Cheyenne turns off. It was called the Tualatin Loop Garage because the road went up to Pacific Highway, south to Cipole Road and then back to home base on Herman Road. I remember Art sitting in the open garage awaiting the rare customer.

Jane Ibach, 85 years old remarked on the depression: “There were so many people, men, out of work back then, in the ‘30s. Over by Nasoma Station (where Avery St. crosses the railroad) there was sort of a jungle of hobo camps and the men would go around to the different farms and get stuff to eat. I’d give them some eggs or something. Somebody else would give them something from the table to eat, meat or something. They’d go back and cook it up. They weren’t harmful men. They’d always offer to do some work. I’d have ‘em chop a little wood for me.”

Ann Martinazzi, writing for the Tri-City Times in 1959, Oregon’s Centennial year: “Tualatin weathered the Great Depression of 1929, emerging bone thin, its people scattered to double up with relatives and save living expenses. Houses stood vacant and neglected, windows broken and the paint peeling. Farm produce was so cheap it seemed hardly worth the effort to till the soil and from enforced idleness the problem of juvenile delinquency rose.”

Tualatin struggled to recover. The new brick school, built by local men and with the help of the Workman’s Progress Act (WPA) opened in 1939 and was the pride of the community. Plans had been borrowed from Collins View School and the bricks hauled from a brickyard in Willamina, according to Gerald Avery, superintendent. The advent of World War 11 brought jobs to the area as Henry Kaiser’s shipyards went to work building liberty ships etc,. But you read about that in last month’s column.

Loyce MartinazziLoyce Martinazzi was born and raised in Tualatin and is passionate about Tualatin History. She is Co-Founder of the Tualatin Historical Society and Co- Author of Tualatin…From the Beginning.

Even Tualatin’s Fashions Evolved…

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

tualatin fashions

With all the interest in period dramas like Downtown Abbey, it’s fun to look back at how our community used to dress. Starting with underwear, a subject not suitable for discussion a hundred years ago, clothing has changed a lot.

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