A Little History
The Cottage Grove area was initially settled circa 1848 with larger population growth fueled by the Land Donation Claim of 1850. The town earned its name from area settlers who reference to the first post office which was a cottage set in an oak grove in location to the north of where today’s town calls home.
Mining, farming and timber where the mainstays of economic growth in the town’s history. Although there are a few active claims still today most mining faded in the 1920’s. The Bohemia Mining district to the southeast of Cottage Grove is a popular tourist attraction with tours, rock and mineral displays, a museum and gift shop.
With the arrival of the railroad in the early 1870’s and being centrally located to much of the economic activity in the region Cottage Grove grew and its historic architecture is evidence of the same. Bank buildings, drug stores, hotels, barber shops and various community retail sprung up from the late 1800s through the 1920’s. This growth created a classic downtown setting.
Quaintly set at the south end of the Willamette Valley and cris-crossed by the coast fork of the Willamette River and the Row River the area was susceptible to periodic flooding from large snow melts in the surrounding mountains.
In the 1940’s the army corp. of engineers began construction of dams which created the Cottage Grove Reservoir and Dorena Lake. Dorena Lake has become an enormously popular summer vacation destination with its Baker Bay Marina and camping and Shwartz Park campground. Visitor estimates top 80,000 people annually.
In 1957 interstate 5 came through about a mile east of the downtown area and the area developed lodging, dining and retail to support hungry tired travelers and extra housing for road workers.
In 1994 BLM acquired the abandoned Oregon & South Eastern rail line which ended just to the east between Cottage Grove and Dorena Lake. BLM made the purchase for the development of what is today the Row River Trail. Shortly thereafter Cottage grove acquired the land necessary to connect a three mile extension of the trail from the heart of town. This paved trail for bikes, hikes and horses extends over 15 miles from downtown Cottage Grove around the north side of Dorena Lake through the town of Dorena to Culp Creek. The trail has seven trailheads and crosses and amazing amount of varying vistas and venues.
Today Cottage Grove has a diversifying economy with area residents moving into the future while preserving the past and natures beautiful gift to the area.
Come see us. You’ll find things look different here!
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