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History buffs present lost towns of Washington County

The shriveled Washington County towns ignored by the railroad, plagued with flooding and destroyed by war — those are the places of the early 1900s Judy Goldmann and Winn Herrschaft are interested in.

Goldmann and Herrschaft are both members of the Genealogical Society of Washington County and will talk about some of the “Lost Towns of Washington County” at the organization’s monthly meeting, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at the Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 N.E. Brookwood Parkway.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: HARVEY BERKEY - This North Plains home was moved from the town of Greenville when the railroad went in.

Meetings are open to the public and new members are welcome.

“History is my business,” said Herrschaft, who taught history at colleges across the United States and Canada and worked as a librarian at the Washington County Museum for 16 years.

And as legendary Oregon pioneer Joe Meek’s great-granddaughter, Goldmann has history and genealogy “in her blood,” Herrschaft said.

Some of the lost towns the two history buffs will highlight include Glencoe, near what is now North Plains; Schefflin, north of Cornelius; Orenco, now part of Hillsboro; and Greenville, near Banks.

“We’re connecting local people to historical communities of the area. We’re putting faces on long-gone places,” Herrschaft said.

The two historians will show the influence the railroad had on the county, along with the rest of the west.

“The railroad put a name on every stop, often after a prominent local resident or features of the land,” Goldmann said.

“Many of the major decisions of the future of Oregon were made on the East Coast,” Herrschaft said. “The railroad controlled where towns set up. The missionaries brought education and religious elements. And the lumber industry was also huge. All these leaders were in the east.”

There were very few farms in eastern Washington County because much of the land was poorly drained, according to Goldmann, making it hard to cultivate for farming and difficult to travel in the mud.

Greenville, near present day Highway 47 and Greenville Road, was the center of the farming community, Goldmann said, with a blacksmith, general store and post office.

But when the railroad went in near the Wilkesboro area by Banks, Greenville residents moved one of their main buildings closer to the rails with stump-pullers, and left their former town to eventually survive solely on historical maps.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: HARVEY BERKEY - If it werent for the car parked in front, this old blacksmiths shop still standing where a town once called Glencoe used to sit would like as it did more than 100 years ago.

Meanwhile — near North Plains, not by Glencoe High School or on Glencoe Road — floods and natural disasters sparked many residents to move. The town was “too close to McKay (rhymes with sky) Creek,” said Herrschaft, stressing the correct pronunciation.

Traces still remain, though, including the original blacksmith’s shop that still stands where it was built in the late 1800s.

A plaque mounted on the structure reads: “Village Blacksmith Shop operated nearly three-quarters of a century by Charles Walter. He worked this shop from 1890 until about 1962. He died in 1964 at the advanced age of 94 years. Blacksmith shop is believed the best remaining one in Washington County.”

The railroad attracted people to North Plains when land developers decided to focus away from Glencoe.

“The developers were determining where Washington County was going — similar to today,” Herrschaft said.

Further east, Archibald McGill and Malcolm McDonald bought up donation land claims and established Orenco, the largest nursery in the country at one time. The town incorporated in 1913 and brought in many immigrant workers from Hungary, who were suffering from religious persecution and were displaced by the Hungarian revolution, Herrschaft said. The company thrived and planted a million apple trees in order to sell the fruit to Europe. Then World War I broke out and ruined its plans. By 1927, the company was bankrupt.

With many other businesses shut down and residents moving away, Orenco dissolved by the late 1930s.

Herrschaft and Goldmann will present a wealth of historical facts and stories during their presentation next week.




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