World Events

  • King George VI dies. Daughter Elizabeth, on safari in Africa with Prince Phillip, prepares to come home and become Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Republicans Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon win the US presidential election. The US National Security Agency is established. Puerto Rico becomes a self-governing commonwealth of the U.S. On Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific, the U.S. tests the first hydrogen bomb.
  • West Germany has 8 million refugees. East German government announces the formation of National People’s army.
  • The United Nations meets for the first time in the New York headquarters.
  • Eva Peron dies in Argentina and the legend of “Evita” begins.
  • Successful Medical Firsts: In Denmark, Christine Jorgensen is recipient of a sexual reassignment procedure. In Ohio, Siamese twins recover from surgical separation. A mechanical heart is used in a human patient.
  • “I Love Lucy” is the favorite TV entertainment for 10 million viewers. Academy Awards: “The Greatest Show on Earth” (US) “Forbidden Games” (France). Prize-winning books: From Here to Eternity, James Jones and The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk.

In Salem
Family life moves out of the dining room as the TV dinner is introduced by Swanson and little folding tables are set up in front of the TV to watch the “The Jackie Gleason Show” and Edward R. Morrow’s “See It Now”. National news is made local as General Eisenhower and his wife Mamie make a fifteen-minute stop at our railroad station during his campaign as Republican candidate for president. In the series of photographs taken that day, our Governor McKay is shown prominently as an enthusiastic supporter. After Eisenhower wins the election in November, he appoints the Oregon governor as Secretary of the Interior and Douglas McKay resigns to take up his new duties in Washington, D.C.

When you visit
Our Southern Pacific train station has been the scene of many happy celebrations and tearful goodbyes over the years since the first was built in 1871. It was the place of departure for troops leaving for the Spanish American War in 1898 and for battle veterans’ return the next year. It was used for military transport in the both World Wars as well as the mustering station for Americans of Japanese descent who were sent to internment camps in 1942. Tourists and business travelers along the west coast of the United States, and those making connections across the country, have relied on our railroad station. This history has been recognized by the designation of the station building and the freight depot on the National Register of Historic Places. It is included in the self-guided walking tour Salem in Oregon History featured on the SHINE website. This station is on the AMTRAK west coast route.

Other Events

  • Salem’s city water system is improved by a 54-inch water line and state-of-the-art slow sand filters provided North Santiam River water. The system finally produced high quality drinking water demanded by residents and local industries. Of equal importance was the building of the city’s first sewage treatment plant on North Front Street. In 2009 the facility was rebuilt and expanded.


  • This year residents of Salem saw the demolition of Marion County Courthouse. The 1873 structure was designed by Wilbur F. Boothby who is also credited with the original Kirkbride Building of the Oregon State Hospital and the Asahel Bush house. In French Renaissance style, popular in the Victorian era to symbolize pride in public buildings, the building rose 136 feet with 33-inch walls. It was topped with a 51-foot cupola containing a clock of four faces and, above that, a wooden statue of Thelma, the Greek god of wisdom. In 1904, this statue was covered with 900 pounds of copper. She was known around the Courthouse by her catalog number, “4762”. With the demolition of the courthouse, the clock went to Mt. Angel and the statue to Willamette University where is stands in the lobby of the School of Law. Finally, only the 1924 World War I Doughboy statue is left standing before a pile of rubble. The ornate Courthouse was replaced with a severe structure of Vermont marble and in 2000,when that structure became too small, an annex, Courthouse Square, was completed across Court Street to the north.
  • Salem’s Municipal Judge, Peery Buren, resigns due to ill health and Douglas Hay is appointed. He will continue in the elective office until 1966.
  • The new Marion Street Bridge opens. At that time, this bridge was the longest of its type west of the Mississippi River. The Oregon Pulp and Paper Mill dominates the shoreline and continues to pollute the downtown air.
  • The new Statesman Journal building is erected at Chemeketa and Church Streets. The traditional downtown residential neighborhoods are disappearing.
  • Area outlined in blue is described below.
  • The third section of Piety Hill has been demolished. Houses were either demolished or moved for the new the State Transportation Building. One of these is the Cora Moores house on Chemeketa Street (She was the daughter of Salem pioneers Obed and Charlotte Dickinson.) Purchased by Ridgely and Wanda Miller, it was transported by Augie Koenig across Bush’s Pasture Park to Leffelle Street where it is today. The Frederick Thompson house, a few doors away on Summer Street, was purchased by the Stephens family and was also moved to Leffelle Street by Mr. Koenig and placed next door. (The Thompson house was also the home of Judge James Brand, who served in Nuremburg Trials.) Kathy Miller Reed and her husband, Wallace E. Reed, now live in Thompson/Brand house. The only other house saved in this third section of North Capitol Mall construction was the David Eyre house on Summer Street. You can now see this beautiful home on the northeast corner of High and Mission streets. These three residences are in the Gaiety Hill/Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District in the SCAN neighborhood.
  • Blue Lake Beans received considerable publicity from association with Lou Costello when he and Abbott made a movie entitled “Jack in the Beanstalk” this year. Both the movie and Blue Lake’s beans were promoted at grocery stores and restaurants and Costello had over forty cases of the beans sent to his journalist and radio commentator friends.