Area History
Historic Butteville Store signIn the first part of the 19th century the towns of Champoeg and Butteville were rivals, each trying to capture the shipping and services needed by French Prairie farmers. Butteville developed as a river landing below La Butte, and by 1857 was characterized by docks, warehouses, mercantiles and related businesses supporting local agricultural and shipping. By the end of the 1800’s it had regular ferry service across the Willamette River and had become the major shipping point in the north Willamette Valley via stern-wheelers. Butteville became the center of Oregon’s hop industry, and in the early 1900s the Butteville Insurance Company was organized, but as rail traffic replaced steamship traffic on the river, it relocated to Donald in 1923 and later to Woodburn. When the steamboat era ended and the railroad access in Aurora and then Donald replaced stern-wheelers, Butteville receded into the sleepy residential town it is today, home to the historic Butteville Store.

The Historic Butteville Store was founded about 1863 and became most famous as the J.J. Ryan Store with it’s accompanying saloon featuring Henry Weinhard Beer. It is the oldest continuously operating retail establishment in the state of Oregon. The Store property was acquired by Oregon Parks & Recreation Dept. in 1999 and is now part of Champoeg State Park. It is operated by Friends of Historic Butteville and is open as a café featuring hand-crafted Half Pint Brothers Ice Cream in the summer, is also French Prairie’s Acoustic Music Venue with Dinner & Live Music every Saturday in the summer and on the first and third Saturdays during the winter. Friends of Historic Butteville has also restored the Historic Butteville Landing providing the public with no charge access to the Willamette River, and is working to install a small paddle craft dock. Learn more at www.butteville.org.

Historic Sites in French Prairie

A Photo Gallery