Vernonia, Oregon

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Vernonia is a city in Columbia County, Oregon, United States. The city is located on the Nehalem River, in a valley on the western side of the Northern Oregon Coast Range. It is located the heart of the most important timber-producing areas of the state, and logging has played an important role in the history of the town. The population was 2,228 at the 2000 census. As of 2006, the estimated population is 2,340.[3]



The community was first settled in 1874 by the Parker and Van Blaricom families. Cousins Judson Weed and Ozias Cherrington, both of Ohio arrived in 1876. Sometime afterwards, the question of a name for the community came up, and Cherrington suggested the name of his daughter (Vernona) in Ohio, which was adopted. Due to a clerical error during the incorporation process, an "i" was inserted in the name. Cherrington died of a farming accident in 1894, having never seen his daughter since his departure from Ohio.[4]

Vernonia started to become more than an isolated farming community on July 10, 1924 when the Oregon-American Lumber Company opened a state-of-the-art lumber mill, which was supported by a railroad line connecting Vernonia to the rest of the country. Oregon-American merged with Long-Bell Lumber Company in May, 1953, which itself merged with International Paper in November, 1957. International Paper judged the mill antiquated, and closed it on December 20, 1957.

The city has been severely impacted by floods on multiple occasions. The rains that caused the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996 flooded Vernonia as well; some homes in the floodplain were elevated, and some flooring materials were replaced, minimizing damage from later flooding.[5] In 2007, heavy storms that impacted the Pacific Northwest washed out roads and destroyed homes, cars,[5] and communications infrastructure.[6] In the wake of the 2007 flood, Vernonia School District voters approved a $13 million bond in 2009 to build a new high school in Vernonia.[7]

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