Downtown Historical Walking Tour
Take this historic walking tour to see how Sandy, Oregon began. There is a fascinating cast of characters and a rich history to look back on. Follow the history of Sandy from its beginnings as a stop on the Barlow Road, to the logging town of recent memory and into the active community it is today. Stop by city hall to peer into the future plans for this historic city.
When it all began…
In the fall of 1845, Sam Barlow and his wagon train arrived in The Dalles, Oregon from Missouri. There he faced the treacherous Columbia River and Gorge! The dangers of rafting, the struggles of portaging and the expense were too much. Barlow hoped to find an old Indian Trail around the south of Mount Hood, and he did. This 80 to 90 miles of difficult terrain became known as the Barlow Road. Others began using it early in 1846.
The first to settle this area were Francis and Lydia Revenue in 1853. The Revenues found mild climate, rivers teeming with fish, plenty of deer and elk, and an abundance of berries and roots. They secured a 320 acre DLC about two miles north of the present town of Sandy, built a home, a trading post and the first bridge across the Sandy River. On this property Francis built the first school in the area. Twenty years later the Revenues built the first hotel in what is now Sandy and a store right next to it.
It’s estimated that 50,000 pioneers traveled the Barlow Road to settle in Oregon and they all came right by the location of the Sandy Historical Museum. Railroads were completed to California in the 1870s and to Oregon in the 1880s and pretty much eliminated use of the Barlow Road.In the words of Justice Matthew P. Deady of the
Oregon Territorial Supreme Court - “The construction of the Barlow Road contributed more toward the prosperity of the Willamette Valley and the State of Oregon than any other achievement prior to the building of the railways.”
The following tour is an abbreviated look at Sandy’s historical and colorful past. The Sandy Historical Society’s Museum has an impressive collection of the history of Sandy and the surrounding areas. You can get more in depth information there.
- 1. Sandy Area Historical Museum - 2007
- 2. Doc Williams Office and Home - 1920s
- 3. Gerdes Store and Sandy Post Office - 1873
- 4. The Sandy Hotel - 1890
- 5. Clackamas County Bank - 1916
- 6. Revenue Hotel - 1874
- 7. Dew Drop Inn
- 8. Lutheran School - 1904
- 9. Evangelical Lutheran Mission - 1902
- 10. Hoffmann's Sandy Market - 1909
- 11. Casper Junker Home - 1908
- 12. Junker Business Building - 1914
- 13. R.S. Smith Building - 1935
- 14. "New" Meinig Park - 1963
- More History...
- Women of Sandy
|Thousands of hours of research have gone into the historical material that is available to visitors in their new museum. You can also enjoy the displays there depicting Sandy’s rich past.|
This museum was constructed in 2007 and sits directly on the Oregon Trail. Roughly 50,000 pioneers passed right by this site. In addition to housing and displaying artifacts from Sandy’s history, it serves other civic functions as well. The museum is the realization of the work, commitment and generosity of the members of the Sandy Historical Society. Every year since 1926 the Sandy Historical Society, originally the Sandy Pioneer Association, has been holding regularly scheduled meetings, collecting artifacts and historical information. Many artifacts have been collected and there is a considerable display of the area’s history at the museum. Since 1973 the society has published three books on the history of the Sandy Area. These books are for sale at their Gift Shop.
Doc Williams was a popular and colorful character who always liked dressing well and driving his Packard. He came to Sandy in 1906 and worked in logging as a whistle punk for a short time. He then worked at a pharmacy in Portland and returned to Sandy to be a pharmacist. However, he had his mind set to be a doctor and he tried, but failed on numerous occasions, to pass the medical exam. This was most likely because he never attended medical school.
|Doc Williams ran his practice from this cedar log building until the late 1930s. The building is still in use today and is occupied by Prestige Printing|
The Medical Board finally relented and granted him a license. In spite of his lackluster beginning he was very successful treating patients during the flu epidemic after World War I with his “secret formula” pink, white and black pills. It was later discovered that the pink and white pills were aspirin and the black pill was a cathartic. He had a great bedside manner so people had faith in him which most likely had a great deal to do with his success. It’s said that Doc, a bachelor, had a knack for making house calls at dinner time.
|This location is considered the birthplace of Sandy|
Richard Gerdes, of Eagle Creek, has the distinction of opening the first store and establishing the “Sandy” Post Office in 1873, which gave this tiny town its name. The photo above is enlarged from the photo on page one. You can barely see the Barlow Road trailing off to the right. After a number of years the Gerdes business was sold to Friedrich Meinig. In the 1880s Meinig built a large building a few blocks east to accommodate a larger general merchandise store and included a dance hall and saloon. The building here now, in the original Gerdes location, was built by Henry Perret in the mid 1920s as an automobile dealership and garage. Ace Hardware currently occupies the Perret building.
Built by Baron Otto Von Scholley in 1890, the Sandy Hotel was the second hotel in Sandy and the nicest commercial building in town. The Baron died of a stroke in 1890 while the tower was being raised on the hotel. In 1897 Caspar Junker purchased the hotel from the Baron’s widow and was very successful with it, as he was with many of his other ventures in Sandy. The hotel prospered so much that Caspar had to build an addition. (More about Casper Junker later.)
The Baron claimed to be a descendent of Austrian royalty. He was Sandy’s second postmaster and served as a notary public. It’s said that he enjoyed his liquor and his antics were the source of many stories. It’s also been said that he was the kindest man some had ever known. The hotel burned down in the 1923 Sandy fire. In its place Ron Esson built the Sandy Drug Store and Post Office in 1924. That same building is now occupied by the Double Dragon restaurant.
In 1911 A.L. and M.A. Deaton opened Clackamas County Bank in a portion of H.S. Eddy’s real estate office. In 1912 W.A. Proctor was taken in as a stockholder. In just a few years the tiny bank was able to construct its own building. In 1918 Proctor bought controlling interest in the bank. CCB survived the Great Depression and is going strong today. It’s still run by the Proctor family and is the oldest community bank in Oregon. The CCB corporate offices are now located on Proctor Boulevard and have been since the 1950s.
W.A. Proctor bought a six dollar train ticket to San Francisco in 1886 and then came to Oregon. He worked in logging camps for several years, had a partnership in a general merchandise store, a logging business using oxen and horses, a partnership in a sawmill and a partnership in the Sandy Land Company. In 1912 he bought an interest in Clackamas County Bank. W.A. served as Sandy’s mayor from 1924-26, Clackamas County Commissioner for 12 years and Clackamas County Representative to the State Legislature in 1931. He died in 1955 at the age of 90.
John and Francis Revenue, built the historic Revenue Hotel in 1874. It was Sandy’s first hotel, another Revenue first, and built right at the center of activity. He also built the Revenue Store up the road a bit. In the early 1900s Percy and Blanche Shelley bought the hotel. Percy moved the hotel one block north to Proctor Boulevard. There he and his wife Blanche turned the historic hotel into their home.
In this location, where the hotel once stood, Percy built the Shelley Building. It had Ron Esson’s Drug Store on the bottom floor and a dance hall on the second floor. The dancehall would host dances would often last until 3 or 4am. The Shelley Building was lost in the 1918 fire following a benefit for the American Red Cross.
Also lost in that fire was St. Michael’s Catholic church and a furniture store. In the photo at left is the Shelley Building in foreground and St. Michael’s Catholic Church, circa 1916. Beaverbrooke Dental Clinic occupies the original hotel site.
Now you’ll want to pay close attention as it gets a little confusing: The building in this photo was the Sandy Hotel (the previous site) which was built by the Revenues in 1874, purchased by Percy and Blanche Shelley in the early 1900s and moved to this Proctor Blvd. location to be the Shelley family home. In 1936 Alice Scales purchased the home and turned it into the Dew Drop Inn, which was wildly successful. The restaurant/lounge had a successful 30 year run. Alice Scales lived to be 93 years old. There are stories about the Dew Drop Inn still being shared by the locals to this day.
Read more about Alice Scales in the “Women of Sandy” section of the guide. In 1967 the historic Revenue Hotel/Shelley Home/Dew Drop Inn was torn down and was replaced by the building you see now. It was known as TJ’s restaurant for many years, built and operated by Alice’s son, Wally Scales, and his wife Harriet.
This building was originally built as the Sandy Lutheran School in 1904. This picture was taken in 1915 and includes 36 students. The building is still in use today and currently houses Schoolhouse Natural Medicine. At one time the Sandy area had 18 grade schools! The Sandy Historical Society has photos of all of them.
This Lutheran church, built in 1902 on land donated by Caspar Junker, was the second church built in Sandy. The first church, St. Michael’s Catholic Church, was built in 1894. The Lutheran congregation also built a parsonage in between the church and the Lutheran school. This church provided a place of worship in an otherwise tough town. In 1959 the Lutheran congregation built a new church and this one became the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. This building is one of Sandy’s most recognizable landmarks and is still in use today, but for non-sectarian purposes. Photo taken 2008.
Ludwig constructed this building for his new business, the Sandy Meat Market. The attached house next door was also built by Ludwig, where he and his family lived. With horse-drawn wagons he delivered to homes, sawmills and the many camps in the outlying areas. The business flourished and began to include grocery items. In the 1920s he added trucks to the fleet and the delivery area expanded clear to Maupin, 75 miles of rough road to the other side of Mt. Hood.
This house was the home of the Junker family for many years. It remains virtually unchanged and is occupied by the Sandy Country Florist today. Casper Junker came to Sandy in 1888 for a short time, went to Portland to train in the hotel business and came back to Sandy with a wife in 1897. At that time he bought the Sandy Hotel from Von Scholley’s widow. Casper was very involved in Sandy’s history as a hotel owner, saloon owner, restaurateur, land developer and he constructed commercial and rental buildings as well. He also served four years as Sandy’s mayor, eight as city councilman and was very active in the school board, church and other civic affairs.
Caspar Junker had this “fireproof” concrete building constructed after the fire of 1913 destroyed the Mt. Hood Saloon, Sandy Livery Stable, the Sandy Café and the Star Saloon. This photo was taken about 1918. That is Caspar Junker in front of the ice cream parlor and café on the left. The Fosberg Harness Shop is at the far right with the false front. The Junker building is in use today and remains pretty much the same as the day it was built.
|Barn and livery stable|
In 1910 R.S. “Bob” Smith started in small building at this location as a blacksmith with his brother, Melvin. They mostly did horseshoeing and repair of wagons and buggies. Next door was the Sandy Hotel’s barn and livery stable, and then the Mt. Hood Saloon and the Star Saloon and Sandy Café. They were all lost in the 1913 fire. They mostly did horseshoeing and repair of wagons and buggies. In 1915 R.S. bought out his brother and the property next door and built a garage to sell and repair automobiles. He also sold Standard gasoline. The cars he sold at one time or another included Brisco, Liberty 6, Durants, Star, Ford, Chevrolet and Studebaker. In 1935 R.S. built the “fireproof” concrete building pictured above. It remains virtually unchanged and is still in use today. R.S. served a term as mayor in 1929 and councilman from 1941-44. The Smith family business lasted for 86 years.
This photo is in the original Meinig Park on the 4th of July, 1891. The Meinigs opened the park in the early 1890s for community use and the big social event each year was the 4th of July picnic. The original park was approximately a quarter mile east of the “New” Meinig Park, where the Assembly of God Church and the Sandy Post Office are now located.
The “New” Meinig Park is behind city hall and a beautiful place to stop after the tour. This park was a portion of the first piece of property owned by Friedrich Meinig. It was sold to the city by the Meinig heirs in 1963.
Meinig Park has been the home of Sandy Mountain Days since 1972. The festival is held the second weekend of July. During the festival the park will see an excess of 50,000 people.
Fire fighting in Sandy
Sandy had three major fires within a ten year period -– 1913,1918 and 1923. Although the destroyed buildings were replaced immediately, the combined effect of these fires destroyed the original hub of the city. As early as 1912 Sandy had organized fire fighters that pulled chemical fire fighting trucks. In the 1930s the city purchased a used Model T fire truck and the Sandy (Volunteer) Fire Department was formed. In these later days whoever happened to be around would take the motorized equipment and fight the fire. The truck was used until just after WWII. At that time the city bought a 1940 truck that was locally fitted to be a fire truck. This truck was used until 1973 and the department remained all volunteer until 1972.
Churches, Saloons and a Constable
Saloons outnumbered churches in Sandy’s early days. The area from Damascus to Mt. Hood was designated to be one district with one Justice of the Peace and one constable! The constable, Bert Jonsrud, lived miles outside of Sandy and he could only be in one place at a time. What a time Saturday nights must've been! By 1910 there was quite a bit going in Sandy. Much of the growth in Sandy may have been because of what was going on in the Bull Run area; building of a diversion dam, flumes, tunnels, an artificial lake (Roslyn Lake) and an electric generating plant. At one time there were between 200 and 300 men employed on these projects. The village of Sandy (population just under 200) supplied many of the needs for these workers, including a place to go on Saturday nights. A place with no local government and no rules or regulations. What a time Saturday nights must’ve been! With his calming effect on people Bert carried out this impossible job without much trouble.
Population and Incorporation
The little village of Sandy was trying to incorporate as a city for a number of years. The trouble was a requirement of a minimum population of 200. Sandy’s population hovered just below that for quite some time. It's been said that every time a baby was born some man would leave town! Finally the population requirement was met and on August 11, 1911 the village of Sandy incorporated as a city, and on November 14, 1913 the voters approved the city’s charter. The first act of the new city council was to hire L.A. Davis as town marshal! It remained a one man 24/7 job and a one man police department until the 1960s.
Blanche Shelley was elected mayor of Sandy in 1919 and Alice Scales along with Edna Esson were elected to the city council that same year. Keep in mind that women had not won the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment in August of 1920. Of course, that says as much about the independent mind of this community as it does about these trail blazing women. These women were also business leaders in the community.
One of the most colorful characters of this community’s past would have to be Nettie Connett. Carefree and flamboyant, Nettie always made life more interesting and gave people something to talk about. Hotel owner, restaurant owner, land dealer, logger, hunter, trapper, bounty hunter, forest-fire fighter, gambler, timber dealer (and rumors of a moonshine still) are all included in her many occupations. She used the taverns in Sandy as her office to make her land and timber deals. Nettie died in 1964 at the age of 84, but to this day if you mention her name in the presence of locals you will stir up a lively conversation! Interested in learning more about Nettie? Check out the books for sale at the museum.
Sandy historical photos are from the Sandy Historical Society’s archives.
Design and production by Don Howard; donwhowardgraphics.com
Edited by Kathryn H. Suter-Warner
Sponsored by The City of Sandy www.cityofsandy.com
Funded by a grant from Clackamas County Tourism & Cultural Affairs www.mthoodterritory.com