World Events

  • The 15th Amendment to the US Constitution gives the right to vote to all qualified male citizens.
  • Heinrich Schliemann, a German pioneer in archeology, excavates the ruins of the Troy of the ancient world of Homer.
  • John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest man of his day, founds Standard Oil, the largest oil refinery in the world.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge construction over the East River in NYC begins. While underground, the Tower Subway in London is the first passenger “tube” railway.
  • “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, introduces literary science fiction.
  • Louisa Ann Swain of Laramie, Wyoming, becomes the first woman in the U.S. to vote legally since 1807.

In Salem
Transportation is a main fascination (both in big city daily life and in a popular novel) this year.  Salem residents also look forward to extended opportunities for travel with the hoped-for arrival of Oregon and California Railroad service convenient to the business and residences around Commercial Street. However, the citizens of 1870 would not agree to pay the railroad an additional $30,000 for laying track to the center of town. So the first railroad station was built over a mile east of downtown on 12th Street. Citizens then complained about the distance they had to travel to deliver and pick up passengers and baggage. Fortunately, by 1888 Salem had its first horse-drawn street railway, The Salem Street Railway Company. It operated from the corner of State and Commercial, extending to 12th Street and eventually along 12th to the Southern Pacific depot. Electric trolleys quickly followed.

When you visit: Salem Railroad Station
The 1889 station, shown above, was the second. Just prior to World War I, this one also burned and was replaced by the present station at 500 13th St. SE. Once the focus of lively, bustling out-of-town travel before World War II, the station was also the scene of sad family departures when the Japanese-Americans were evacuated to relocation camps during 1942. After passenger travel declined, the station fell into disrepair. The station of now serves Amtrak passenger trains on a daily basis and the classic, 1930s lobby has been restored. It is a pleasure to visit, and you might even be there when the passenger train whistles in and the conductor escorts them onto the correct coach. All aboard!

Other events

  • Three new commercial buildings are constructed downtown. The Wade and Smith building on State Street retains its 1910 appearance. The Anderson and Durbin/Dearborn buildings on Commercial Street have also undergone extensive renovations. Both are featured on the SHINE Hisotric Downtown Walking Tour.
  • Salem residents found entertainment in Sandy Burns’ North Star Saloon, witnessing the first set of “hurdy-gurdy” girls ever brought to town and were delighted with the lively performance. In those times, North Star Saloon faced Court Street, oppose Reed’s Opera House. Before Sandy Burns took over the building, the structure had served as publication office for Rev. Thomas Hall Pearne’s Pacific Christian Advocate. A new theater was the Oro Fino Theater, opening on October 16, with seating capacity for 700. “Fernande” was the initial presentation, followed by “Aladdin,” the wonderful “Scamp”- a burlesque that filled the house. Oro Fino did not long survive as a theater, and the structure itself collapsed in a gale, probably during the big blow that struck Salem on January 8, 1880.
  • In this year, an unusual farming photograph records Lewis Judson’s threshing machine on his South Salem farm.  Judson and his wife, Almira Roberts, arrived in Oregon in 1840 on the Lausanne.  Besides his work at the mission, Judson assisted in the creation of the Oregon Institute, served as a magistrate, and was appointed Marion County surveyor. He used his self-taught medical skills to assist Salem’s early residents. Judson was known as a versatile, if blunt and stubborn man.  In 1846, two years after Almira’s death, he married Nancy Hawkins, the sister of Martha Boon. She divorced him in 1859. At that time he was living in Clatsop County where he spent the last years of his life.


  • The Smith-Ohmart family builds a new home (above) at what is now 2655 East Nob Hill. For 70 years it was the home of the Fabritus Smith families, his daughter Velleda (Mrs. Adam Ohmart) and her son Roy Ohmart. Still in its original Italianate style appearance above the present SCAN neighborhood, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
  • A true pioneer wife and loving mother to her adopted daughter, Lucy Anna Lee, Lydia Bryant Hines‘s life of adventure ended with her death in Salem this year. The wife of a circuit riding Methodist minister, Gustavus Hines, she had left her parents’ comfortable home to endure privation as a young wife even before making the voyage to Oregon in 1840 on the Lausanne. Her years in the earliest settlement of Salem, her travels in the new northwest settlements and world-wide and her reflections on her experiences, have all been recorded in journals and make fascinating reading. She lived the last 14 years of her life here in Salem.
  • The James Joseph/G.W. Gray Cottage was one of the first built in the earliest East Salem Subdivision, the Roberts Addition of 1865. It was owned by one of the brothers who built the Grey Building downtown. The cottage is in the NEN neighborhood and part of the Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District, featured on this website.
  • Polk County tax records show Lindbeck House on Orchard Heights Road in West Salem, built this year, to be one of the oldest residences of that neighborhood. Very little past ownership information is available. The previous owners were the Bouffleur family, prominent growers at this location as long ago as the 1930s. In 1967, John Lindbeck retired from the US Navy and returned to his hometown to purchase this property. With his wife Carolyn, they sold fruit from this 36-acre orchard. The property recently sold for construction of a retirement community and the house has unoccupied for several year. Its fate is uncertain.