Monday, October 6, 2014

Zena's 1853 Phillips House Languishes, Wallace Road Betrays Robert Wallace's Generosity

Did you get out this weekend??? It was glorious early fall!

Sagging barn on Zena Road, early 1900s - it will be gone soon
Don't forget about today's Preservation Pub on our earliest places:
The collection of handmade structures built in the Willamette Valley between 1841 and 1865 embody the culmination the Oregon Trail experience. While their significance to our state’s history is paramount, these buildings are being lost at an alarming rate.
1853 Phillips House Shows Neglect

A ride out to Zena showed lots of old buildings, and one in particular.

Phillips House of 1853 - Vacant since 2002 and in danger
The Phillips House of 1853 is in the same classical revival style of the Conser House in Jefferson. 

By Salem standards, it's really freakin' old! Statehood came in 1859, remember.

Here's the neighborhood in 1852. Just three farms, five dwellings maybe.

John Phillips claim in upper right, 1852
 And a side-by-side with the roads and terrain today.

Zena today and in 1852
click to enlarge to see approximate location
of early road and Phllips claim
(General Land Office survey map from UO)
When Phillips died in 1892, the Oregonian said,
John Phillips, who died at Spring Valley, July 1, aged 78 years, was born in Wiltshire, England, November 25, 1814....

He came to New Orleans in 1839, where he married Elizabeth Hibbard on February 11, 1839, who now survives him. Thence to St. Louis, Mo., two weeks after, where he lived six years, leaving there for Oregon in April, 1845, bringing his wife and two children with ox teams in company with Joe Meek [or Stephen Meek?], as leader. Arriving in Oregon City in October, he spent the following winter there. Early in the spring of 1846 they moved to St. Paul, Marion county, where he and Thomas Roberts, a man who crossed the plains with him, were employed to finish the Sisters’ school and Catholic church at that place, being the first church ever erected in Oregon.

In July, 1847, they moved to Spring Valley, on the donation land claim which he held until his death. In the spring of 1849 he went to the gold mines of California in company with J. D. Walling and others, returning in the summer of the same year. Since that time he has lived on the home place, where for years he manufactured with his tools, out of rough lumber, sash, doors, coffins and household furniture, which was sold to the people for miles around. At present there are several beautiful pieces of furniture in the house, carved out with old-fashioned tools, such as the pioneers were compelled to use.
It would be a shame to lose the tangible link to all this. Restore Oregon is right to highlight the legacy and the threat.

Wallace's Crosswalks of Futility

I hate riding on Wallace Road. Cars are zoomy and the shoulder could be more generous. Even in town with the bike lanes, the speed limit's 45.

And no matter where you are, crossing it's nearly impossible.

45mph in town on Wallace Road NW
There's a crosswalk in the distance
Can you see the crosswalk in the distance?

Seriously, at 45mph, how many drivers are 1) going to see people on foot and 2) then be able to stop in time? More realistically, how many drivers will see people on foot and even be willing to stop?

Yeah, ODOT or the City, I'm not sure who, did an "improvement and safety project" a while back, and put several crosswalks in along Wallace Road..

Here's the first one going into town.  Can you see the crosswalk itself, where there might be a person on foot?

Walking Man! But the crosswalk itself is camouflaged
How about here? Can you see the crosswalk? Even the "walker ahead" sign is concealed by the trees. If you're driving, how are you going to register this at 45mph?

More camouflage for the signage and crosswalk
Here's proof! At the sign on the left is a person crossing. He's actually dressed in florescent lime green! The car here in the picture is in motion and the driver fails to stop.

Seriously, at 45mph, who's going to stop,
even when you're wearing lime green?! (at left)
This car didn't stop.
I'm stopped on bike, the person on foot is bright, there are signs.
How many cues does a driver need?
Fortunately I'm pretty sure these are the sites that appear to be headed for upgrades in 2016.

Five crosswalks
Still, even with flashing beacons, what kind of compliance are we going to get if the posted speed is 45mph and the "design speed" is a good bit faster than that?

This is not a comfortable environment for anyone not in a car, and it's not clear that stuff around the edges will make that much of a difference. Other people on bike, for example, preferred the sidewalk to the bike lane.

Sure there's a bike lane - but that truck's big and fast!
New Path in Wallace Park

More happy were the new staple racks installed at the newly completed short-cut between the Union Street Railroad Bridge and Glen Creek Road. The gridded shadow is from a bench out of the frame to the right, and another bench was on the other side of the tree.

New staple racks at the soccer field in Wallace Park
(But remember, the plan for the Marine Drive/OR-22 Expressway is right here!)
The path, now complete, is immediately adjacent
to a proposed highway
(This expressway configuration 
is from an earlier stage in the process.
See comments below for more on this - also, click to enlarge)
Immediately next to the racks and benches was a new history sign on Robert Wallace.

Robert Wallace history
Among other things it talked about a form of "sharing the road":
Wallace set to improving the old wagon path from his farm into Salem. Using his own money to widen, grade, and maintain the road, it soon became known as Wallace Road. And true to form, Wallace shared it with everyone.
It would be lovely for this ecumenical and public-minded spirit to reinspire ODOT and the City in their approach to Wallace Road: To make it a road everyone, including those not in cars, feels they can embrace and use easily and comfortably.


For sticklers, here's the very latest "Salem Alternative" with the Glen Creek Path. The portion near the arrow would need to be rebuilt for sure.

Salem Alternative OR-22/Marine Drive Expressway
and new Glen Creek Path


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Thani you for this story. I am very interested in history of this area as my ancestors came to Oregon in 1846 by wagon. They settled in the Luckiamute River area near Dallas/Monmouth area in a community called Louisville ( not gone).

This story sent me on a pleasant journey through some of the web sites that you referenced.

A couple of things that I learned. One is that our pioneer families likely did not settle in log cabins when they came here in the 1840s because there were already lumber mills here.

The homes that you are showing here are good exmples of the type of homes these pioneers constructed.

I think that there were log cabins, of course, but they would have been earlier than the time that we assoicate with the Oregon Trail migration of the 1840s.

The other thing I found out was some of the best documents for finding family members is through church records. This is how I learned that my ancestors settled in Louisville, because they attended a church there. So many little communities have gone by the wayside over time.

Here locally I recenlty worked to preserve a small historical fact by having a short little street created by the Market-Swegle realignment project to Badger Corners Place NE. The area around Swegle School used to be called Badger Corners up until the 1960's and is still on the geological survey maps, but most people who live in the area have no clue of the history.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Glad you found it interesting!

Though it may not merit a post of its own, the 1852 map clip shows the location of Jesse Walling's home. One of his descendents, Harold Walling, founded Walling Sand and Gravel, and the most recent N3B note about the gravel pit and the proposed alignment of the third bridge is another link to the history of Zena and Spring Valley.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Anon is right in one way: This is an old picture from before the process had seemed to resolve to the "Salem Alternative" and I could have made that more clear.

Here's a discussion of the Salem Alternative with more recent pictures of the proposed 2 or 3 lane cross-section. (Note that the ROW in a white line shows plenty of room for more lanes!)

Additionally, the whole project has a slippery relationship with "mission creep": The Salem Alternative was supposed to be a "local bridge," but it has morphed back into a highway bridge and expressway. Nearly every tendency in the project is towards enlargement. It is absolutely true that a five-laner was considered, and it is not at all certain that this won't reappear. The general thrust of the project is more traffic! more capacity! more road!

Since the Salem Alternative is running into difficulties, it also seems premature to say it is a settled "preferred alternative."
So the differences on the OR-22 expressway aren't very significant for our purposes here. The point is that whatever charm the path might have will be obliterated by the expressway and that doesn't depend on the expressway being five full lanes.

(Also, the specific properties of the current version of the Salem Alternative are much less interesting than the overwhelming folly of the whole Third Bridge itself.)

Will update the caption to reflect that this is an older image, however.