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Apr-26-2022 15:52printcomments

Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area is Featured Park for April

Park opened in 2006 on the site of Fort Yamhill near the Grand Ronde reservation.

Fort Yamhill
Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area is one of the newest parks in the Oregon State Parks system.

(GRAND RONDE, Ore.) - Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area is one of the newest parks in the Oregon State Parks system and is the featured park for April 2022.

Opened in 2006 on the site of Fort Yamhill near the Grand Ronde reservation, the park offers a glimpse of history as well as views of Spirit Mountain, a site sacred to Native Americans also known by its Kalapuya name, dji’ntu.

The interpretive trail is short and two-thirds of it is compacted gravel suitable for wheelchairs, although the grade may be challenging for non-motorized chairs.

The last .2-mile section heads down through a shady grove along what was once part of the Killimuck Trail used by native people to reach the coast.

The history surrounding the fort is a reminder of the dark side of Oregon’s past as a territory and the conflict among settlers, the United States government, and native people.

Built in 1856 to regulate the eastern border of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation, Fort Yamhill represented a time of transition for the people of the Northwest. The fort served to ease tension between settlers and natives, protect both populations and control traffic between them.

Times were hard for all. Native Americans from 27 tribes of Western Oregon were moved from their homes to the reservation - a confinement that imposed a new spoken language and white man's rules.

Enlisted soldiers fought hunger, rain, isolation and monotony. Desertion was common, but the rough country usually drove deserters back to duty. The fort was in use by US soldiers for less than ten years, and then went to ruin.

Fort Yamhill is one of the best archaeologically preserved forts in the Northwest from the mid 19th century. On site archaeological exploration has provided insight into the daily lives of people living in and around the fort during the 19th century. Visiting the park is an opportunity to learn the emotional tone of the state from 1856-1866, and understand more about the difficult past of our nation as well as the Northwest.

Exhibits and restoration work at the park has been done in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Oregon Parks Forever helped raise funds for the initial archaeological discovery and restoration of the only remaining historic building on the site. There is no parking fee and there are plenty of picnic spots to choose from here.

The park is also near the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center (open weekdays, Tuesday-Friday). The Chachalu center is a hub for cultural activity and preservation of the history of the Grand Ronde people.

Map: Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area

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