World Events
  • Otto von Bismarck becomes Prussian Prime Minister. He will dominate European politics for 30 years and be the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890.
  • French gunships compel the Vietnamese emperor to cede Saigon, three provinces and treaty ports. The resulting French Indochina became an important international trade colony for France.
  • The Civil War battles continue, including those at Shiloh, New Orleans, Antietam.
  • Conflict at Fort Henry inspired “Star Spangled Banner”
  •  The Homestead Act was passed in Congress.
  • US issues first paper money: $5 to $1000
  • President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves under Union control by the next January.
  • The first petroleum is shipped from U. S. to Europe: 1,328 barrels.
  • Pasteurization tests completed in France.
  • In Europe, this year, Ivan Turgenev publishes Fathers and Sons, and Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.

 In Salem 

The distant battles of our Civil War are not as urgent as local problems. A covered bridge is erected across Pringle Creek at Commercial Street to replace the structure washed out by flood the year before. When this photograph was taken, the city had about 1000 residents, dirt roads, no police or fire department, no water supply or sanitary services. The size was about the same as the present CAN-DO neighborhood: from the river to 12th Street, north from Mission Street to Division Street, just above Marion Square Park. Asahel Bush, publisher of the Oregon Statesman newspaper, had disputed the need for a city charter for the community, referring to the charter as a “garment too large for the child” and to city councils as “fleas on the body politic”. It took three years to get the charter passes due to disputes about it legality.

When You Visit
The photographer appears to be where the hill rises south of Commercial Street, similar to the location for the photograph for 1861. Standing there in 2012, you will see the progress being made in removing the industrial complex which has so long covered Pringle Creek as it cascades into the Willamette River. The first flour mill was built there in 1869 and Pringle Creek continued to be a reliable source of power. However, the use of electric power and the esthetic demands of urban development call for “daylighting” this natural asset. The creek has been uncovered, flowing between the basement walls of the demolished industrial building. Only the rail tracks, suspended above, cross the creek. The next step was reconstructing the Commercial Street bridge, this time to allow for pedestrians to stroll underneath it, from Civic Center Park, along the north shore of the creek, to Riverfront Park.

Other Events

  • Ferry and Commercial streets lived up to their names as the transportation and business center of Salem. Steamboats on the Willamette, bringing cargo and passengers, landed at Ferry Street, named for the rope ferry organized by Capt. James White in 1846 and continued by his widow after his death in 1854. She ran the ferry until 1863. The principal businesses, offices and saloons were at this intersection with Commercial.
Nesmith Building
Holman Building
  • During the last 3 years of the Oregon Territory and the first 16 of Oregon statehood, Oregon governor’s office was in the Nesmith building on the southwest corner and the legislature met in the Holman building across Ferry to the north. The first Capitol had burned in 1857 and the new classic structure would not be complete until 1876.
  • Residents lived in rooms above stores, in small houses with kitchen garden (and livestock) on Front Street, around Marion Square Park and eastward in the former missionary lands centered by “Willamet University”.
    Oregon Institute
  • The university, originally the Oregon Institute,  was one of the first Salem settlement buildings. It was organized by the pioneer Methodist missionaries in 1842 and gained the title of  University, the first on the Western United States, in 1852. The first teacher and later Head of the Women’s Department, was Chloe Willson, widow of the William Willson who laid out the first plats of the city, establishing the location of the Capitol, the school, and the original downtown. Willson Park is named for him. The first graduate of Willamette University, always a co-educational institution, had been Miss Emily J. York who received the degree of Mistress of English Literature in 1859.
  • Marion County is chosen as the site for the second State Fair because of its closer proximity to the agricultural center of the Willamette Valley. John Savage, who had homesteaded a parcel of eight acres, three miles outside the city of Salem, donated the land. John Minto contributed $1,200 to build a wooden fence around the grounds. New events were added, including canning, quilting, and baking.
  •  Sam Adolph establishes the first Salem brewery with John Brown at Church and Trade Streets. The cultivation of hops became a major agricultural enterprise in the Willamette Valley and breweries a significant industry. It attracted migrant laborers, who settled down to make homes in the town and created several significant fortunes for the local breweries and business owners.
  • In January snow fell to a depth of one foot and remained for a month. Temperatures dropped to four degrees below zero.