Cradled in the heart of Oregon’s picturesque Willamette Valley, Corvallis was the end of the Oregon Trail for thousands who crossed the nation to begin anew in the mid-19th century. Located on the western bank of the Willamette River, at its confluence with the Mary River, Corvallis was incorporated by 1874. Settlers found an Eden in the majestic beauty of Corvallis, a mile-and-a-half-wide plateau that sits above high water. The plateau stretches deep into the foothills, disappearing into the Coast Range Mountains that separate the Willamette Valley from the Pacific Ocean.
In 1845, Joseph C. Avery arrived with the first official claim to the wild land, a 640-acre parcel, located at the merging of the Willamette and Mary rivers. In 1846, William Dixon also claimed 640 acres.
Originally called "Marysville" by French fur-traders, Avery rechristened the area "Corvallis." He is believed to have translated the phrase "heart of the valley" into Latin for the new name of "Corvallis" in 1853. The rustic community sprang up in the winter of 1847-1848, when Avery marked off 12 acres of his land surrounding his cabin. In 1848, the discovery of gold in California quickly created a market for lumber, livestock, food, and other supplies. Corvallis burst into a prosperous pack-trail stop in Oregon on the way to California’s Gold Rush. The number of immigrants streaming into Oregon skyrocketed with the passing of the 1850 Donation Land Claim Act, which gave free land to men (only) who were willing to live on and cultivate it for four years.
Today, Corvallis is a lively college town, home to Oregon State University. A top research university, it is distinguished by the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district of buildings, green spaces and plans. The 570-acre campus area was designed by renowned architect John C. Olmsted, the nephew, stepson and business partner of Frederick Law Olmsted, who also New York City’s Central Park. Roughly 24,000 students are enrolled from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. OSU offers about 200 undergraduate programs and more than 80 graduate-degree programs, including 20 online degrees. Key areas of study include agricultural sciences, forestry, engineering and management, public policy, fisheries and wildlife management, oceanography and atmospheric sciences, environmental studies, and natural resource management. In addition, courses are given in marine biology, conservation biology, nuclear engineering, nutrition and health, community health, pharmacy, and zoology.
Dedicated by the university in 1926, the Arboretum was used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1933 through 1942. The “outdoor laboratory” was returned to the College of Forestry Management in 1964. Today, the Arboretum is home to numerous types of exotic and native species of plants.
Corvallis also is home to the National Clonal Germplasm Repository of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
The gene bank “preserves ... fruit, nut, and agronomic crops” from temperate climates.
With a population of more than 55,370, the city is located in central western Oregon, about 90 minutes south of Portland and the Pacific coastline. The city of Corvallis is in Benton County and its elevation is 235 feet above sea level. The 13.08 square-mile town is headquarters for the Siuslaw National forest, a natural wonder that extends from Tillamook to Coos Bay along the Oregon Coastline and inland to the Coast Range Mountains. The forest contains more than 630,000 acres of diverse ecosystems.
The community motto is “Enhancing Community Livability.” Ranked No. 48 of the 100 Best Places to Live and Launch a Small Business (2008), it was also dubbed the fifth "Smartest City in the Nation" by Forbes Online Magazine (2008). In 2004, the Harvard Business Review selected Corvallis as the 15th most creative city in the U.S. The city was also declared one of the Best 13 towns to be a vegetarian by a Vegan Magazine study, 1995.
The city of Corvallis offers mi