Much of the early commerce in the Willamette
Valley was centered on the production of hops and other grains. Since
there were few roads at that time, and no really reliable roads at all,
much of the grain was transported via the Willamette River. One of
the main distribution places grew up in what is now Polk County, in the
area of Spring Valley, just across the Willamette from northern Keizer.
Just when the settlement that would come to be known as Lincoln began is unknown. Its genesis was a ferry operated by Andrew Jackson Doak, a Tennessean who came to Oregon country in 1843.
Just when he began operating the ferry is a mystery, but it was a thriving business by 1852, when the territorial legislature considered building a road from Doak's Ferry to Marysville (Corvallis).
By 1853, a store had been opened at Doak's Ferry, operated by George A. Pease and Timoleon Love. A Post Office was established in 1867 in the thriving community, by now called Lincoln in honor of the martyered president.
An 1888 plat of Lincoln shows six blocks, including buildings along the riverfront. According to an article published in the Capital Journal on Dec. 16, 1954, during the 1870s "and perhaps until the mid-1880s more grain was handled at Lincoln than at any other Willamette River port. Portland excepted." A sawmill, a flourmill, and a beehive facotry also graced the town.
But the coming of the railroad spelled doom for Lincoln. Faster, cheaper and more convenient than river traffic, the new railway started the town's decline.
A series of fires destroyed much of the dying town. Even nature conspired against the once-proud community: the river changed its course. By 1901, when the Post Office was decommissioned, the end was at hand.
Today, virtually nothing is left of Lincoln. A store at Wallace and Zena roads still services area patrons and the fishermen who come to try their luck in the slough that was once Lincoln. But there is no ferry, and the countless bushels of wheat and hops that passed through here are now just a memory.
Courtesy of the Statesman Journal, January 7, 1999