History of Hillsboro:

Hillsboro is the government seat of Washington County and a thriving center of agriculture and high-technology industry. Because of its recent growth, Hillsboro offers exceptional opportunities of employment and education. Yet Hillsboro has retained its small-town charm and tradition--qualities held precious by new and longtime residents, alike. Hillsboro has the distinct advantage of being geographically close to what is beautiful about Oregon. It is within 30 minutes by car of Portland, 60 minutes to the Oregon Coast and a short drive to golf courses, wineries, rural hiking and boating, fishing, hunting and sight-seeing.


Incorporated in 1876, Hillsboro has grown from a small farming community and government center into a modern city of over 80,000 residents. It is the largest city in fast-growing Washington County.


When early pioneers first reached the Tualatin Valley in the 1840s, they had only an inkling of the agricultural richness of the country. The valley was sparsely settled at the time by retiring mountain trappers and Atfalati Indians. The trackers soon began carving out a burgeoning community and government center. Most residents lived on farms or were engaged in milling and timber work. Soon they founded building, trade and retail businesses. With the arrival of the railroad in 1870s the Tualatin Valley became the breadbasket for the river port city of Portland, supplying dairy products, fruits and vegetables as well as timber products.


During World War II, Hillsboro was the residence of many new Oregonians who had come north to work in the shipyards of Portland. Hillsboro became a bedroom community. After the war, city fathers began luring businesses to Hillsboro to create a new economic base. Business leaders formed an industrial development corporation, and the city annexed land to the north and east and laid out industrial areas. By the 1970s, the Hillsboro area had won Intel's first plant site outside California and spinoff companies from Tektronix. In the 1980s came Japanese-owned manufacturing companies. They were followed by suppliers and customers of Intel and other manufacturers, software companies, communication device manufacturers, Internet providers and branch sales and corporate offices.


Originally called East Tualatin Plains, Hillsboro was named for David Hill, one of the adventurers who traveled the Oregon Trail by wagon train to find a new life in the Oregon Territory. Hill attended the famous Champoeg Meeting of 1843, which led to Oregon becoming part of the United States. He served as a provisional governor and was elected to the legislature of the state election of 1846. Like Hill, many Tualatin families arrived by wagon train in the 1850s and 1860s. Others traveled by ship around Cape Horn. Still others, after surviving the frenzied California Gold Rush of 1849 and 1850, moved north to Oregon.


Another important early Oregon settler was Joseph Meek, an early trapper or "mountain man" who voted at the Champoeg Meeting, was instrumental in forming a county government for the Tuality District and became a territorial marshal. Tuality District, formed in 1843, consisted of Tuality, Clackamas, Yamhill and Champiock counties. Tuality was changed to Washington in honor of George Washington. Meek, born in Washington County, Virginia, also is believed to have influenced the choice.


By 1850 there was a post office at Columbia, the name chosen by Hill on his donation land claim. This county seat in the early 1850s took the name Hillsborough when Hill donated a portion of his land claim for the courthouse. The name gradually was shortened to Hillsboro. Hillsboro was a market town for the farming community of the Tualatin Valley. Washington County farmers and transporters drove wagons over primitive roads to reach ports along the Willamette and Columbia rivers and to return home with manufactured goods. They also shipped by boat on the Tualatin River.


Railroads crisscrossed western Oregon in the 1870s, changing the economy and the lifestyle of small, remote towns like Hillsboro. Besides making possible the exchange of durable goods and materials, railroads brought a second wave of immigrants-Dutch, Swiss, Germans and Scandinavians-who settled on farms in the valley. By 1900 a few Russian and Japanese immigrants also had found homes in the valley. In 1908 and 1912, two electrical rail lines were built to Hillsboro. For the first time, residents could live in Hillsboro and work in Portland. By 1910 Hillsboro's population had reached 2,000. In the 1920s automobiles became the preferred means of travel, and electric railroads died out by 1930. Canyon Road linking Portland and the Tualatin Valley, country market roads and, eventually, highways to the Oregon Coast were paved. Oregon Highway 8 was completed in 1940. U.S. 26, the so-called "Sunset Highway," was finished in 1948.


Once a tiny settlement extending a mere three blocks in each direction of the courthouse at East Main Street and First Avenue, Hillsboro today encompasses 24 square miles from Tualatin Valley Highway on the south to West Union Road on the north, from Dairy Creek on the west to 185th Avenue on the east. Its population of over 80,000 ranks it first among Washington County cities.

A quick look


Population, by year:

1880- 402

1890- 1,246

1900- 980

1910- 2,016

1920- 2,468

1930- 3,039

1940- 3,747

1950- 5,142

1960- 8,232

1970- 15,365

1980- 27,664

1990- 37,598

2000- 70,187

2010- 91,611


Key Dates:

1850- The locality is named Hillsborough in honor of David Hill, one of the early pioneers of the area.

1853- A log cabin was built to serve as the community's first school.

1867- Riverboats began to provide transportation to the area, with the the first being a side-wheel steamer dubbed the Yamhill.

1870s- Railroad reaches the area.

1873- The first courthouse of Hillsboro was built.

1876- Hillsboro was incorporated as a town by the Oregon Legislature.

1880- The first fire department organized.

1892- Drinking water and electricity systems where built.

1911- Hillsboro built it's first sewer system.

1914- The first library in Hillsboro opened.


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