Oregon City History
Oregon was once part of the Great Black Swamp. The swamp area was rich with oak, hickory, ash, walnut, elm and maple trees. This led to the establishment of numerous sawmills and settlements. The harvested forests created rich farmland, but the area remained swampy and there was a need for storm drainage. Major ditches were constructed, usually along roadways that followed the path of old Indian trails. These ditches continue to provide storm drainage today, carrying storm water into Maumee Bay.
"The town was named Oregon by Pierre M. Irving, a nephew of Washington Irving, author of the popular book Astoria. This book attracted considerable interest in John Jacob Astor's trading lands which were located in what is now the city of Oregon. The story, however, is an account of Astor's fur trading in the territory of Oregon; but since the nephew was representing Astor's interest in fur trading east of the Maumee River, he succeeded in having the town named Oregon. In 1838, Mr. Irving, accompanied by his wife, went to New York expecting to remain there for the summer; but for some reason he never returned." Quoted in the "History of Oregon and Jerusalem" book, authored by Josephine Fassett.
The first government was Oregon Township, formed in 1838. The land was surveyed and there were public sales for settlements. The area that was the township, is now the City of Oregon, which is bounded on the west by the City of Toledo, the North by Maumee Bay/Lake Erie, on the east by Jerusalem Township (Lucas County) and on the South by the City of Northwood (Wood County). In 1856 the township took ownership of two cemeteries which remain owned by the City today.
The 1800's and 1900's saw the development of an extensive rail system. The Port of Toledo began operations on the south bank of the Maumee River in the early 1800's and developed port operations on the Maumee Bay in Oregon in 1955. These operations continue in the Northwest area of the City.
Because of the water, rail, and surface transportation access available in the city, two major refineries, British Petroleum (BP) and Sun Marketing opened in Oregon around the turn of the century. These two refineries have historically been two of the City's largest employers..
The northwestern end of the city grew as an industrial center with a coal powered electrical generating facility and several chemical plants. Pipelines were laid to carry petroleum products to and from the port facilities and other regions. Buckeye Pipeline has the largest pipeline distribution system in Oregon.
As industrialization continued, commercial and residential growth followed. Generally, urban growth continued eastward from Interstate 280 - one of the nation's first Interstates. Recently, residential growth has also occurred south of Maumee Bay in the waterfront areas and with perimeter development in the more rural areas.
In 1954 Oregon Township trustees sought to zone the area. At about the same time, City of Toledo officials sought to annex the northwest industrial area of Oregon Township. The annexation failed, and in 1957 there was an election for Oregon to become an incorporated city. The vote was 3,660 in favor and 2,925 opposed. A key issue in incorporation was to have Oregon own and operate a water and a wastewater plant.
The City of Oregon adopted their Charter in 1958. The new city adopted a slogan of "City of Opportunity." In the mid 1980's, the city added Oregon on the Bay to the City of Opportunity. In 1959 voters approved an "earnings tax" now known as the municipal income tax. The water plant was constructed in 1964 and currently over 90% of the land in Oregon is serviced with waterlines. Plans for an estimated $17.9 million in improvements to the water plant continued in 1998. The original water plant was paid for by a combination of local and federal funds. The City also has a wastewater treatment plant, constructed in 1977, with local and federal funds, which can process up to eight million gallons per day. In 1997 a major upgrade to the wastewater plant was completed. Approximately one-third of the land in the City is serviced by sanitary sewer lines. The City's water and wastewater operations also service portions of Jerusalem Township, northern Wood County and northwest Ottawa County.
Form of Government
The original Charter adopted in 1958 called for a Mayor/Council form of government. The City was divided into five wards, each represented by a councilman, and there were two at-large members for a total of seven councilmen. The Charter named the Mayor as the Administrator. The Mayor and Council were elected for two-year terms. In 1968 the Charter was amended to elect all councilmen at large. In 1988, the Charter was amended to change the term of the Mayor to four years. In 1993 there were two Charter changes: one was to create the position of City Administrator who would report to the Mayor; and the other was to abolish the position of Clerk Auditor and to create the positions of Finance Director and Clerk of Council. Other technical charter changes, such as reading the title of an ordinance instead of the entire ordinance, have been periodically approved by the voters.
The City of Oregon is located in northwestern Ohio in the Toledo Metropolitan area. Oregon is Lucas County's largest suburb with 28.5 square miles and a population of about 20,000. The city has approximately five miles of shoreline along Maumee Bay/Lake Erie, and the elevation is approximately 606 feet above sea level. Local temperatures average 73 degrees in the summer and 25 degrees in the winter. The city has approximately 120 miles of roads with I-280 (which links the east - west Ohio Turnpike, I-80/90 with north-south I-75), State Route 2 (Lake Erie access road) and State Route 51 (Wood County and Ottawa County access road). The port facilities service foreign and domestic cargo for shipment in the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.
The City of Oregon provides a variety of recreational opportunities for residents, workers, and visitors to the area. The City is home to Pearson Metropark, Maumee Bay State Park, South Shore Park and the Coontz Recreational Complex. Maumee Bay State Park has over 1,800 acres. The northern border is one mile of shoreline on Lake Erie. Maumee Bay has an eighteen hole Arthur Hill golf course, lodge and conference center, cabins, campgrounds, inland lake, nature trail, tennis courts, sledding hill and amphitheater. Wave runners, parasails, paddleboats, bikes and canoes are available for rent at the park. Pearson Metropark has 320 acres for biking, a nature center, fishing, picnicking, and paddle boating. The City of Oregon has two municipal parks, Coontz Park for active recreation with eight lighted ball fields and South Shore Park with a sledding hill, picnic area, and fitness trail.
Oregon schools offer a full range of programs from advanced placement courses to vocational education. The Oregon City School District includes a high school, two middle schools, and four elementary schools, one of which is located in Jerusalem township. Also located in the city is Cardinal Stritch High School, a co-educational parochial school. In addition to the Oregon schools, the region is serviced by the University of Toledo, Medical College of Ohio, Lourdes College, Owens Community College and Bowling Green State University. All of these schools are within approximately one-half hour drive time of the city.
The city provides a wide variety of services authorized by its Charter and administrative codes. City services include police and fire protection, emergency medical service, municipal court, planning and engineering, zoning, code enforcement, street maintenance, traffic control, parks and recreation, building inspection, cemetery, community development, curbside recycling, solid waste collection and disposal and general administrative services. The city does not operate hospitals, schools or landfills. In 1998 the city continued to receive federal funding for persons, with qualifying income levels, to rehabilitate and/or receive down payments to purchase homes.
The city also operates two enterprise activities: water treatment and distribution, and wastewater collection and treatment. The enterprise funds are used to account for activities operated in a manner similar to a private business. The intent is that the costs of providing the services to the general public on a continuing basis be financed primarily through user charges. The cost of capitalizing the water and wastewater plants is subsidized with a voter-approved designation of approximately twenty percent of income tax revenues for said purpose.
The city's enterprise activities are not subject to rate review or determination by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio or any similar regulatory body. The City Council has the necessary authority to establish and to amend appropriate user rates as required. The rates are monitored on an ongoing basis to insure their adequacy to meet operational and maintenance needs. The rates remain competitive in Northwest Ohio. Responsibility for the frequency and amount of rate change lies solely with the City Council.
*Photos courtesy of Amy Lynn, Images on the Bay