Pratum as seen from Howell Prairie Road
|Time zone||UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (PDT)|
|Area code(s)||503 and 971|
Pratum is an unincorporated community in Marion County, Oregon, United States. It is located northeast of Salem on Howell Prairie near the Pudding River. Pratum is Latin for "meadow" and is pronounced by the local population with a short A sound as in bat and as though there were two Ts rather than the long A as in plate that one might assume in English from the spelling. The community was settled in the late 19th century by a group of Mennonites, many of them of Swiss extraction. A branch of the narrow-gauge Oregonian Railway was built through the area in about 1880, and the station there was called "East Side Junction". The railway was eventually converted to standard gauge, and is still officially in use today by the Willamette Valley Railway, although actual usage by 2018 is nearly nonexistent. In 1895, the station was renamed "Enger" after a friend by a Mr. Larson, who opened the first store and platted a town there, the record of which in on file with the Marion County Surveyor. "Enger" was said by the postal service to be easily confused with Eugene, however, and the name of the station changed to "Pratum" in 1898. Pratum post office was established in 1887, and was originally called "Switzerland", then "Enger" and finally "Pratum" in 1898, matching the railroad station. The post office ran until 1964.
Pratum School was built in 1928 and functioned as an independent school district hosting grades one through eight, originally in two rooms. A third classroom and a small library room were later added. High school was provided through contracts with Silverton School District or Salem School District at the parent's choice. Later, kindergarten was provided through Central Howell School two miles to the north. In 1991, Pratum School became part of the Silver Falls School District in response to state legislation requiring every school district to provide a full K-12 program. Pratum School is still operating as of the 2017-2018 school year, but with a limited number of grade levels. Other grade levels are bussed to other District facilities, and students from a broader area are brought to Pratum to fill classrooms. Several other outlying small rural schools are utilized similarly within the District.
Other commercial buildings in the community include a community church, a farm cooperative, and some agricultural businesses. The church has its roots in the Mennonite tradition. The American Sunday School Union had a fellowship half a mile south of town, but as of 2017 the building was razed. The coop was originally a depot for wheat farmers to ship their crops by rail, but the main business has morphed to grass seed currently, and rail transport has essentially ceased. There is a small manufacturing facility north of town that produces equipment for processing and handling hay crops, and these are distributed internationally. The Pratum Store once provided retail supplies, but it burned down in the early 1960s and was never revived.
- McArthur, Lewis A.; Lewis L. McArthur (2003) . Oregon Geographic Names (Seventh ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 783. ISBN 0-87595-277-1.
- Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online: Oregon (State)[permanent dead link]
- Salem Online History
- Silverton Chamber of Commerce Archived 2007-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
- Media related to Pratum, Oregon at Wikimedia Commons
- Pratum Elementary School
- Historic images of Pratum from Salem Public Library