Gaston, Oregon

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Gaston is a city in Washington County, Oregon, United States. The population was 600 at the 2000 census. The 2006 estimate is 630 residents.[3]



Early history

Prior to the arrival of European immigrants in the 1800s, little is known about Native American settlements in the Gaston area. What is known indicates that Native Americans in the area lived similarly to other Pacific Northwest tribes. In nearby Cherry Grove there are a few petroglyphs usually credited to the Atfalati tribe, which is a division of Kalapuya. Like many other indigenous peoples in North America, it is thought as many as 90% of the local population were killed by smallpox, malaria, influenza or other European diseases even before the area began to feel the presence of significant European settlement.


In the 1860s, the census recorded only about 70 people in the Gaston area. Nonetheless, in 1866, the first Gaston School was founded. In 1870, a new school was built near the connecting road between Old Highway 47 and the new Highway 47. Initially students only attended school for 3–6 months per year, later expanded to 9 months. In 1871, as a stage coach line brought more settlers, and in anticipation of a new rail line, railroad developer and town namesake Joseph Gaston set aside 2 acres (0.01 km2) of land on what was then the edge of town for a school.

Rail services

In the early 1870s, stagecoach and rail service was expanding rapidly in Washington County. By 1872, a stop on the Portland-St. Joseph line in Patton Valley was officially named Gaston. With a train stop, more people came and by 1873 a post office opened in the new town. The same year, the first church, Gaston Congregational Church, was also built. In the 1880s, Joseph Gaston was responsible for draining Wapato Lake, which lay in the valley around the rail stop, creating the farmland that exists today. "Wapato" is a word from the local Indians that refers to a water-based starchy root vegetable related to arrowroot sometimes called a "water potato" in local English.

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