Latitude / Longitude:
45°14′56″N 122°53′49″W / 45.24889°N 122.89694°W / 45.24889
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Champoeg (/”æm’pu”i”/ sham-POO-ee, historically /”æm’pu””g/ sham-POO-eg) is a former town in the U.S. state of Oregon. Now a ghost town, it was an important settlement in the Willamette Valley in the early 1840s. Located halfway between Oregon City and Salem, it was the site of the first provisional government of the Oregon Country. The town site is on the south bank of the Willamette River in northern Marion County, approximately 5 mi (8 km) southeast of Newberg. The town is now part of Champoeg State Heritage Area, an Oregon state park. The Champoeg State Park Historic Archeological District is within the heritage area.
Champoeg is best known as the site of a series of meetings held in the town during the 1840s. On February 7, 1841, Willamette Valley settlers convened there for the first time. They selected Oregon missionary Jason Lee as their chairman and considered measures to deal with problem of wolves menacing their settlements. It was to be the first in a series of “Wolf Meetings” at the town site that would establish the basis of civil codes.
Also located in the park is the Historic Butteville Store, which was founded in 1863. Considered the oldest operating store in Oregon, it is the last remaining commercial building of the nearby community of Butteville. A series of weekend interpretive programs is available late June through Labor Day weekend, and the Champoeg Promise program provides an interactive living history program for schoolchildren. The site is open year-round and is available for camping (tent, yurt, cabin and RV), hiking, bicycling, bird watching, picnicking, fishing and boating.
The town continued to exist after Oregon statehood. However, on December 2, 1861, the adjacent Willamette River rose 55 feet (17 m) above its normal summer stage, flooding the town with seven feet (2 m) of water. The great flood destroyed most of the structures in the town, barring two saloons. Panicked residents found shelter at the Newell House, which was built upon a hill. Robert Newell went nearly bankrupt in caring for the flood victims. Champoeg was never rebuilt after the disaster. The town site is now preserved as Champoeg State Heritage Area. A 1901 monument records the names of the 52 settlers who voted to establish the provisional government at the 1843 meeting. Dams installed since the 1930s make another catastrophic flood unlikely.