Tualatin Valley

From Academic Kids

The Tualatin River
The Tualatin River

The Tualatin Valley is a farming and suburban region southwest of Portland, Oregon in the United States. The valley is formed by the meandering Tualatin River, a tributary of the Willamette River at the northwest corner of the Willamette Valley, east of the Coast Range. Most of the valley is located within Washington County, separated from Portland by the Tualatin Hills. Communities in the Tualatin Valley include Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillboro, Aloha, Beaverton, Sherwood, Tigard, and Tualatin.


In the early 19th century the valley was inhabited by the Atfalati, a hunter-gatherer Kalapuyan band of that spoke a dialect of Northern Kalapuyan. In the middle 19th century, the Atfalati lived in several villages in the valley, including Chakeipi ("Place of the Beaver", translated by early white settlers as "Beaver Dam"). The valley was one of the earliest settled farming regions in Oregon in the 1840s. In the spring of 1847, Lawrence Hall filed the first land claim, comprising 640 acres (2.6 km²), at Beaver Dam (later Beaverton) and constructed the first grist mill in the valley. In 1849 Thomas Hicklin Denney and his wife Berrilla built the first sawmill in the Beaverton area, leading a later boom in the timber industry.

The early settlers called the valley the "Twality Plains", a corruption of the name of the Atfalati tribe. The lack of roads connecting the upper valley to the Willamette River quickly became a hindrance to early settlers. In 1850 the Oregon Territory created the Portland-Tualatin Valley Planck Road Company to build a road through the Tualatin Hills connecting Portland with Beaverton. The road was completed in 1860 after financial setbacks. According to Oregon historian Stewart Holbrook, the building of the planck road was the decisive event that allowed Portland to surpass its rival Oregon City for supremacy as the economic hub of the territory. The railroad was extended into the valley in 1868.

The growth of agriculture in the valley eventually was limited in the middle 20th century by the need for irrigation. In 1966 the United States Bureau of Reclamation built the Tualitan Project, bringing ample water to many parts of the valley in the last federal reclamation project in the Pacific Northwest.

In the later half of the 20th century the valley became increasingly suburbanized and now forms a distinct cultural area that rivals Portland itself in political and economic influence. The communities along the Tualtian Valley Highway (the descendant of the old planck road), form a suburban corridor stretching west of Beaverton. Beaverton is famous as the location of the Nike, Inc. "campus", the company's world-wide headquarters. Nike, along with Intel in Hillsboro, provide the nucleus of manufacturing in the valley. Much of the valley is now within the Portland urban growth boundary, resulting in a suburban growth patterns that interspersed with remaining areas of orchards and farm fields. Most of the communities in the valley are served by TriMet, the Portland-area mass transit agency. In 1998 the MAX light rail system was extended from Portland into the valley as far as Hillsboro.

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