A Brief History of Area Governance
Our area, located on an ancient flood plain between the Willamette River and Oatfield Ridge, was once crisscrossed with trails made by native people. When Europeans settled the area, these trails became wagon roads connecting Oregon City, Milwaukie and Portland. By the mid-1840s, the land had been claimed by newcomers, and it was cleared for farming over the following decades. Residents of the last Native American camp were removed to the Grande Ronde Reservation in 1856.
Soon the old trails gave way to other forms of transportation. Completion of the Portland Traction Company trolley line from Portland to Oregon City in 1893 opened the area to urbanization, creating the first wave of commuters who left for work in the city and returned home to the suburbs. By the mid-1930's, Oregon's first four lane "Super Highway" (now McLoughlin Boulevard) cut through the area, bringing amenities for travelers and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. The post-World War II years brought a surge in population. Houses and subdivisions were built in areas previously dedicated to agriculture, gradually replacing farms.
The creation of the Clackamas Town Center in the 1980's killed McLoughlin Boulevard as a center of commerce, and the completion of the I-205 freeway reduced the significance of McLoughlin as the major byway through North Clackamas County. There is no longer commercial farming in the area, and few manufacturers or large retailers remain. With a population of approximately 30,000, this is the most densely populated part of Clackamas County, and the third largest population center in the county.
Some parts of the area incorporated as cities, Oregon City in 1844; Milwaukie in 1903; Gladstone in 1911. In the remaining area, governance was left to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. This was sufficient when it was rural farmland with sporadic subdivisions. But as density grew and housing displaced open land, it became necessary to create Special and County Districts to provide government services that met the needs of a growing urban population.
Several government agencies now provide services to our area:
- Oak Lodge Water, Oak Lodge Sanitary and Clackamas County Fire are Special Districts overseen by publicly elected boards.
- Enhanced Sheriff and North Clackamas Parks are County Districts supported through property taxes and governed by the Board of County Commissioners.
- North Clackamas and Oregon City School District provide K-12 education to the area.
- Tri-Met provides public transportation.
- Metro provides regional services, including planning and waste management.
- Clackamas County provides all other services, including road maintenance, zoning, code enforcement, local planning, and animal control.