Cottage Grove Historical Society is a non-profit society of volunteers with membership open to all who meet to learn more about protecting our local cultural heritage.
The mission of the Cottage Grove Historical Society is to preserve and celebrate the history and heritage of the Cottage Grove area and to stimulate interest and knowledge for generations to come.
Since we are not able to provide public presentations at this time, we are providing small snapshots of local history. Each week volunteers will provide a brief article or video featuring local historical information. In addition to the regular content, a student version will be supplied in pdf format to make it easy to print if desired. The student version will contain basically the same information but written for younger audiences. Student versions will also provide vocabulary definitions as necessary, and discussion points that you can use to start a conversation about the article.
Lessons will be provided each Tuesday and can be found under the history tab at the top of our website. We will also provide a link to each lesson when it is released via our Facebook page. You will be able to find all past lessons on our website.
We hope these small history bites will provide useful content for you and for students in the Cottage Grove area. The intent is to continue providing mini-lessons until we are able to once again meet in groups and provide our regular monthly presentations.
The Marcia E. Allen Historical Research Library is located in the historic Square Dance Barn, 308 S 10th Street in Cottage Grove. Our librarians gathers, organizes, and catalogs information into a traditional library setting so it can then be used by the general public.
Cottage Grove Beginnings
Nicknamed "Slab Town" because wood slabs were placed in the trail ruts to keep the wagon wheels from sinking into mud during rainy seasons, the original town of Cottage Grove paralleled the west side of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River following the old Applegate Trail.
Main Street, Cottage Grove originally ran along what is now River Road. When the railroad came in 1872, businesses began to develop between the tracks and River Road forming our current Main Street. The railroad quickly became the center of commerce as well as the principle form of transportation, fading out stage coach and wagon travel. During this time, a city council was formed which still exists today.
When gold was discovered in the nearby Bohemia Mountains in 1858, many downtown businesses were started by people who obtained their grubstake in the mines. At one time, there were seven saloons on the north side of Main Street. Those who didn't have anything to do with cards, dancing or alcohol, walked on the other side. The ladies and children had small park areas and inside reading rooms to rest in while waiting for their men to take the family home.
Cottage Grove fractured between the old Main Street community and the new with the river being the dividing line between east and west. The post office became a bone of contention: one side wanted it to be near the railroad station, but the others didn't want it moved at all. The East-Siders referred to their town as "Lemati", a Native American word meaning "peaceful valley." Whoever happened to be appointed Postmaster moved it to their home or business location. During the Lemati feud, the post office was moved under cover of darkness by members of two prominent families to an area between the warring factions. It was literally dragged by a team of horses, probably as a prank, but ended up being a satisfactory solution for both sides.