Today I’m here on what used to be called the ISLAND of Clackamas County. Yes, did you know that there’s an island in this area? Well, it’s been some time since locals have referred to this area as the ISLAND, but technically it is surrounded by water in some form or another such as rivers, streams and creeks. You probably know it as the Stafford Hamlet. If you’ve ever exited Stafford Road from 205 and headed towards either Lake Oswego or West Linn, you might have noticed the charming rural area that makes up Stafford.
So, what is a Hamlet? Well, there are cities, and then there are towns, and smaller than a town is a village, and smaller than a village is a hamlet. Usually a hamlet is a small settlement where there is one source of economic activity, in this case the rural land used for agriculture.
At the time of this recording, there are about 1,500 residents of the Stafford hamlet. Stafford is unincorporated, unlike a city like Lake Oswego, West Linn, or Tualatin which are incorporated, meaning they have public water, sewer, electricity, police and fire to manage and resident’s tax dollars go to support these foundational needs.
Stafford is separate from all of that. However, they have been designated as Urban Reserve within the Urban Growth Boundary of the Tri-County. Meaning, there could come a time if one of the three cities needs to expand their Urban Growth, they may have to build within the Hamlet. But before we get into what that means for the residents of Stafford, let’s take a look at a map of what exactly makes up the Stafford Hamlet.
Going directly to the Stafford Hamlet website, they have a map right there. As you can see there is Lake Oswego to the north, then West Linn to the East. As we ride along 205, you’ll see the Hamlet cuts into some parts of Tualatin to the West. According to this map, it looks like Stafford Elementary and Athey Creek Middle School are inside the Hamlet.
And when we take Stafford Road back towards Lake Oswego, past Johnson Road, we come upon the roundabout and the Hazelia neighborhood of the Hamlet and the Hazelia Agricultural Heritage Trail, which is where I’m walking today. Speaking of neighborhoods, there are several neighborhoods within the Stafford Hamlet including Borland, Childs, Wisteria, Rosemont, and more.
The Hazelia Agricultural Heritage Trail tells the unique story of this area and some of the notable families that help build this area to what it is today. If you’ve ever driven past this area and seen people walking, jogging or riding bicycles, but haven’t done the trail yourself, well you’re in luck because we’re going to do it today, right now.
What’s great about the Hazelia Trail are these interpreted panels that are spread out along the trail letting people know some of the history to this area.
I’m going to start here at the Whitten Farmstead panel. Each panel, by the way, is color coded to represent different meanings. I don’t know what the meanings are. Haha.
Anyway, this area of the trail indicates where the Whitten farm was located. The Whitten’s were some of the first pioneers to occupy this area after the Land Claim Act in 1850. They grew everything from strawberries to vineyards to orchards. What the Whitten’s grew they would barter for oil for their heating lamps, etc. Life wasn’t easy for the Whitten’s as some of their children died early on and eventually, Richard Whitten died soon after settling in the area leaving his wife, Sarah a widow trying to take care of almost 320 acres in what we know as Rosemont today.
So, when you drive by Whitten Lane, where all those big homes from a past Street of Dreams are located, you’ll know who the Whitten’s were.
As we continue down the trail we come along the next panel, which tells the story of the Hinatsu family who contributed the agriculture of this area at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Hinatsu’s were one of the first Japanese-American families who settled here. Some of the Hinatsu’s children would later serve for the United States in World War II fighting in Italy and France where they were part of the 422nd Regimental Combat Team. Apparently, the 422nd were the most decorated unit for its size and length of duty.
Moving right along, as the Muppets would say, we come across the panel for real original settlers of this area, the Tualatin and Clackamas people. One of the indigenious persons to the area, Victoria Howard, born in 1865, was interviewed by anthropologist, Melville Jacobs, who recorded and documented a lot of what she had to say in order to preserve a key element to the native history of this place.
I have no idea how to pronounce this word, but it revolves around the mythology of the Coyote which describes that we have always been here. What’s interesting is that the native americans that lived here would burn and thin certain trees and fields to produce hazel and willow in order to make baskets. Then with these open fields, they could hunt wild game on them. Pretty ingenious.
Now we come upon the Luscher Farmhouse and Garden. Now, I’ve heard it pronounced Lusher Farm and Lou-sher Farm, so if you know the correct pronunciation, let me know in the video comments. Speaking of pronunciation, I’ve messed up on pronouncing Lake Oswego a few times, because I’m so used to saying LO or Lake O, that when it comes time to say Oswego, I would get it mixed up and say O-swego instead of OS-wego.
Anyway, Luscher Farm was originally a dairy farm back in the 1940’s, until the city of Lake Oswego purchased the farm in 1990 and uses it for field trips, a garden for clematis, and a whole lot more. So, even though Luscher Farm is within the Stafford Hamlet zone, it’s owned by the city of Lake Oswego.
We’ll cross over the roundabout and head up towards Cook’s Butte, which by the way, I did a whole episode on Cook’s Butte, so I’ll leave a link to that episode in the description.
So, now that we’ve crossed over the roundabout, we’re technically in the city of Lake Oswego, but this area has a lot of historical meaning to Stafford, because it’s home to the Shipley Farm and historic barn.
The Shipley’s were one of the first pioneer settlers here back in the 1850’s before selling the land to J.P. Cook in 1900, and of course, Cook’s Butte is named after the Cook family. And members of the Cook family still live and work the land in this area.
Next to the Shipley-Cook Panel, there is a panel about the Oswego Grange 175. Essentially, a group of citizens, mostly women, who came together to organize community events, share ideas, way back in 1867. The story about residents coming together and forming organizations to better the community living has relevance today, as I’ll get into that later.
But first, heading up the trail towards Cook’s Butte we arrive at Stevens Meadows. On the panel, there is a letter from the Stevens’s that sum up the intent of what it means to live in the Stafford area. It essentially says, that we are lucky to have these open spaces available to us and the forethought of families like the Stevens’s and the Emery’s who bought Cook’s Butte from the Cook’s, anyway these families wanted their land to be left as is, so that generations could enjoy them and not necessarily be developed on.
There’s more to the Heritage Trail if we circle back down towards the Oswego Pioneer Cemetery, where we can find many of the burial sites for many of these people we’ve talked about today.
But as I was saying about how back in the pioneer days, the people here organized community efforts and events, well the same has been happening for the residents of Stafford.
Getting enough people together to form a Hamlet wasn’t easy, but it was necessary as the citizens realize that unless they come together and get a voice at the table, they won’t have any voice of what happens to this area.
There’s a thing for people who own large parcels of agricultural land, that they are land rich and cash poor. Meaning it’s difficult to profit from large land because of taxation, use of the land, etc. If one of the cities ends up having to include Stafford into their jurisdiction, it could mean upwards to half a billion dollars to build out the infrastructure for water, sewer, electricity, fire, police and transportation. I assume this is why the neighboring cities want Stafford Hamlet to be part of the discussion, as it would be a major expense and more taxes to bring the hamlet into the fold.
Originally, there was supposed to be another vote for the items that pertain to the Hamlet residents, but with the lockdown, it’s been postponed. If you want to learn more about the going on’s in this area, I’ll leave links in the description for you.
Well, I hope you liked this episode and learned more about this unique section of our neighborhood. And since the show is sponsored by my real estate services, all my contact information is in the description of this video in case you have any questions about buying or selling a home during these times. But in the meantime, please head over to AroundTheNeighborhood.tv to find more episodes and to sign up to get exclusive videos sent to your inbox.
Thanks again for watching and I’ll see you around the neighborhood.
▼ OTHER VIDEOS OF INTEREST:
Lake Oswego's Cook's Butte (What Mysteries Await Us at the Top?): https://youtu.be/edk10AQ4Zvk
West Linn’s Willamette Living History Tour: https://youtu.be/lLj42L1QOVA
Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project (An Inside Tour): https://youtu.be/x0JFX05xkqM
Willamette Shore Trolley: https://youtu.be/82xQG3nz8Us
▼ LINKS TO REFERENCES IN THIS VIDEO:
Stafford Hamlet: https://staffordhamlet.com/
Hazelia Agricultural Heritage Trail: https://www.ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/hazelia-agri-cultural-heritage-trail-luscher
▼ GEAR I USED TO MAKE THIS VIDEO:
GoPro Hero 7: https://amzn.to/36Hw4zR GoPro
Vlogging Case: https://amzn.to/2FzfxBY
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▼ REAL ESTATE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Scott McMahon, Real Estate Broker
Licensed in the State of Oregon
Premiere Property Group, LLC
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