09 January 2006
This small town located only 15 miles east of Salem gained its name from one of its first settlers, Drury Stayton. Stayton built a sawmill along the North Santiam River in 1870, and helped to plat the downtown area, which was incorporated in 1891.
Stayton wanted to name the town Florence, in honor of his daughter, but was hindered from doing so because a town along the coast had already laid claim to that name. Instead, he bestowed the name upon one of the main streets. On Florence Street, you will find a row of four tidy bungalows originally used as worker’s cottages due to their proximity to the mills once located on Water Street. The steady supply of water from the North Santiam River was a cheap way to generate energy, and the area soon became a hub for the town’s growing businesses.
A walking tour of the notable buildings along Second and Third Avenues will showcase a time when masonry work was common. The Diedrich Building at 195 Third Avenue still retains the original entryways and display windows as when it was built in 1912. You’ll find another example of concrete stonework at 122 Third Avenue, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Building.
When your feet tire of walking, a visit to the Santiam Historical Society Museum at 260 N Second Avenue will allow you to view historical photographs and memorabilia of the local area. The museum itself is housed in the building originally constructed as the Stayton Women’s Club in 1927. The museum is open on Saturdays from 1-4 pm.
The historical society’s current project is the renovation of the Charles and Martha Brown House at 421 First Avenue. Once a stunning example of the Queen Anne style, the community is hoping once again to see this 1903 house return to its position as one of the most elegant residences in town.
No trip to Stayton would be complete without a walk across the Stayton-Jordan covered bridge at Pioneer Park. This replica replaces the original, which once spanned Thomas Creek in neighboring Scio, and burned in 1994. Be sure to bring along a picnic so that you can enjoy this wooded park, which also has play equipment and walking paths. The park will host the fourth annual Oregon Covered Bridge Festival this September with tours, information, and activities for the entire family.