Silverton, Oregon

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Silverton, Oregon
Cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants overlook Silver Creek from North Water Street in downtown Silverton.
Cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants overlook Silver Creek from North Water Street in downtown Silverton.
Flag of Silverton, Oregon
Gateway to Silver Falls
Oregon's Garden City
Location in Oregon
Location in Oregon
Coordinates: 45°0′24″N 122°46′57″W / 45.00667°N 122.78250°W / 45.00667; -122.78250Coordinates: 45°0′24″N 122°46′57″W / 45.00667°N 122.78250°W / 45.00667; -122.78250
CountryUnited States
 • MayorKyle Palmer
 • Total3.54 sq mi (9.18 km2)
 • Land3.51 sq mi (9.08 km2)
 • Water0.04 sq mi (0.10 km2)
252 ft (76.8 m)
 • Total10,484
 • Density2,989.45/sq mi (1,154.25/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (Pacific)
ZIP code
Area code503
FIPS code41-67650[3]
GNIS feature ID1126975[4]

Silverton is a city in Marion County, Oregon, United States. The city is situated along the 45th parallel about 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Salem, in the eastern margins of the broad alluvial plain of the Willamette Valley. The city is named after Silver Creek, which flows through the town from Silver Falls into the Pudding River, and thence into the Willamette River. The community of Milford was founded in 1846 with a sawmill, store and several other buildings two miles upstream from the present location of Silverton. In about 1853 a second sawmill was built on Silver Creek near where the Silverton city hall now stands. In 1854 the town of Silverton was platted and registered with Marion County.[5] Human habitation of the Silverton area extends back approximately 6,000 years before the present. In historical times, the region was dominated by the Kalapuya and Molala peoples, whose seasonal burns of the area made it plow-ready and attractive to early 19th century Euro-American settlers. Farming was Silverton's first major industry, and has been a dominant land-use activity in and around Silverton since the mid-19th century.[6]

Silverton is part of the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the population core of the Silver Falls School District. The population was 9,222 at the time of the 2010 census.[7]


Silver Creek in autumn

Silverton is situated on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley, a fertile and alluvial plain which stretches from the western foothills of the Cascade Range on the east, known as the Waldo Hills, to the eastern foothills of the Oregon Coast Range on the west.[8] Silverton lies on either side of Silver Creek, a tributary of the Pudding River, which joins the Molalla River before emptying into the northward-flowing Willamette River. Abiqua Creek also empties into the Pudding River; it flows across the eastern valley north of Silverton, further draining the land around the city.

Silverton's elevation is between 200 and 250 feet (61 and 76 m) above mean sea level with the steep-sided, heavily-wooded Waldo Hills to the south rising an additional 200 feet (61 m).[8] The agricultural richness of the environs is due to massive and repeated floods from prehistoric Lake Missoula in western Montana. Beginning approximately 13,000 years before the present, repeated flooding from Lake Missoula scoured eastern Washington and Oregon, carved out the Columbia River Gorge, and periodically swept down the Columbia River; when floodwaters met ice jams in southwest Washington, the backed-up water spilled over and filled the entire Willamette Valley to a depth of 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) above current sea level,[9] creating a body of water known as Lake Allison. The gradual receding of Lake Allison's waters left layered sedimentary volcanic and glacial soils to a height of about 180 to 200 feet (55 to 61 m) above current sea level throughout the Tualatin, Yamhill and Willamette Valleys.[10]

A Christmas tree farm near Silverton

Until the mid-19th century, the Silverton area was a broad, open grassland with small stands of Oregon white oak, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. Stands of Oregon white oak, red alder, big leaf maple, and black cottonwood lined streams and river banks. While these tree species are extant today, widespread farming in the Willamette Valley between 1850 and 1870 altered the land through the discontinuation of widespread seasonal burning in the valley plains previously employed by the Kalapuya people. Large stands of Douglas fir and western red cedar, mixed with Oregon white oak, remain in the Silverton area, especially on eastern ridge tops and on the slopes of the Waldo Hills to the south. Due to decades of intensive timber extraction, mature second- and third-growth trees comprise existing evergreen stands.[11][12]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.47 square miles (8.99 km2), of which 3.43 square miles (8.88 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.[13]


This region experiences warm (with occasional hot spells) and dry summers, but with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F (22.0 °C). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Silverton has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated "Csb" on climate maps.[14] The climate is relatively mild, considering Silverton's northern latitude, and temperature fluctuations are generally small. Precipitation, primarily in the form of fall and winter rain, ranges between 40 and 50 inches (1,000 and 1,300 mm) annually. Silverton's climate and its soil have made the area well suited for a variety of crops and for livestock grazing.[15]

Climate data for Silverton
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 46
Average low °F (°C) 33.8
Record low °F (°C) 4
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.83
Average precipitation days 20 17 19 17 13 9 4 4 7 13 21 21 165
Source: [16]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[17][2]

2010 census[edit]

The historic Wolf Building (built 1891), located at the corner of Water and Main Streets, lies within the Silverton Commercial Historic District.

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,222 people, 3,452 households, and 2,442 families residing in Silverton. The population density was 2,691.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,039.3/km2). There were 3,477 housing units, 18.1% of which were housing units in multi-unit structures. The homeownership rate was 64.3% and the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $229,700. The racial makeup of the city was 84.1% White, 12.7% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.7% from other races, 1.0% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 0.2% African American, and 0.1% Pacific Islander.[3]

Of the 3,452 households in Silverton, 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them. 54% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 29.3% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 25.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.15.[3]

The median age in Silverton was 35.8 years. 28.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 17.2% were 62 years of age or older. Silverton's gender makeup was 47.6% male and 52.4% female. 91.7% were high school graduates, and 29.1% held bachelor's or higher degrees. The median household income was $51,687. 16.1% of the population lived at or below the poverty level.[3]

2000 census[edit]

East Main Street, downtown Silverton

As of the census of 2000,[18] there were 7,414 people, 3,452 households, and 2,442 families residing in Silverton. There were 2,865 housing units, and the population density was 2,716.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,048.8/km2). Silverton's homeownership rate was 60.7%, while 39.9% of occupied housing units were rented. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $148,800. The racial makeup of Silverton was 89.4% White, 11.6% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.09% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.21% African American, and 8.83% other races.[3]

Fischer's Mill on Silver Creek in Silverton, c.1908

The median age in Silverton was 33 (31 for males and 35 for females). 37.7% were under the age of 18, 13.4% were 65 years of age or older, 47% were male and 53% female. Of the population 25 years of age and older, 7.1% possessed a graduate or professional degree, 15.3% held a bachelor's degree, 5.2% held an associate degree, 28% had some college education but no degree, while an additional 28.8% had graduated from high school or its equivalent but had not received any college education. 15.6% failed to complete high school.[3]

The median salary for a male was $34,707 while the median for a female was $24,479. Major employers in Silverton in 2000 included the Silver Falls School District (400+ employees), Silverton Hospital (402), Champion Homes (200+), Brucepac (100+), and Mallorie's Dairy (90). The median household income was $38,429. 11.7% of Silverton households earned less than $10,000 per year, while 2.5% earned $150,000 or more. About 10.4% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.[3]


Silverton Hospital birthing center in Silverton

Silverton is the population core of the Silver Falls School District, which, in addition to Silverton, serves nearby Scotts Mills in as well as communities in the surrounding foothills up to Silver Falls State Park. Currently there are twelve elementary schools in the district, and the campus of Silverton High School on Pine Street, which was completed in 2009. Voters passed a bond levy in 1994 for construction of a new high school to be completed in two phases. The first phase of the new high school was completed in 1997, with a capacity for 500 students. The second phase was not completed until the summer of 2009, after voters passed a new bond levy in November 2006. In autumn 2009, students at the high school's old campus moved into the new campus at 802 Schlador Street. As of October 2014, the School District was seeking proposals from architectural firms for completion of the Middle School Schlador Campus Reconstruction in Silverton.[19]

A frog kite hangs from the ceiling of O'Briens, a coffee house on Water Street

In 2006, Silverton and Silver Falls School District formed a partnership to support, maintain, and operate Silverton's local access cable channel, SCAN-TV.[20]

In 2014, Silverton High School's enrolled students numbered 1,196. Of those students, 39% were judged to be economically disadvantaged. 36.9% were entitled to receive a free or reduced-rate lunch. 14% of the student population were disabled, 11% were English language learners. Compared to other similar high schools, Silverton High School students' scholastic achievements rated above average. The racial makeup of the school was 81.7% White, 14.5% Hispanic, 0.9% African-American, 0.6% Native American, 0.5% Asian. 1.9% were Other/Unknown.[21]


The first white settlers arrived at Silver Creek in the 1800s. Two settlers, James Smith and John Barger created a sawmill along the creek in 1846. The town was originally known as Milford. In 1854, the town was abandoned and the settlers moved downstream to the current spot of Silverton. The town was first known as Silver Creek but the name was changed a year later. The town expanded and grew and was incorporated in 1885. The town now housed about 229 people. The town continued to grow until now, where it now has over 10,000 people.[22]

Killing of Andrew Hanlon[edit]

In June 2008, Silverton came to international attention when an unarmed Irish citizen, Andrew James (AJ) Hanlon, aged 20, was killed by a police officer, Tony Gonzalez, in controversial circumstances.[23][24][25][26][27] Gonzalez, who was responding to a reported disturbance of the peace, shot the unarmed Hanlon five times, although Hanlon's sister recalled seeing seven bullets in her brother's body.[28]

The death, which Hanlon's sister described as the only shooting in Silverton in the past twenty years,[26] was greeted with shock there as well as in Ireland, particularly when it emerged that Hanlon had been experiencing psychological issues and had most probably gotten lost on his way home to his sister's house in Silverton.[24][29] Complaints were made by Hanlon's family that it took six hours for the police to inform his sister of her brother's death, despite her living only a mile away,[30] and questions were asked why the police had not used a tazer, which was available to them.[26] Requests for transparency were greeted by obfuscation and secrecy and claims that, in Andrew Hanlon's mother's words, the city's establishment "had closed ranks on" the Hanlon family to protect Gonzalez.[26][31] while the Consulate in San Francisco of the Government of Ireland registered concern over the killing.[30] Protests outside Silverton City Hall were also ignored.[32] On 24 July 2008, a Marion County grand jury found that because Gonzalez had testified that he believed that Andrew James Hanlon was armed, his killing was justified.[33] Eight days later, on August 1, 2008, and just over a month after Andrew was killed on the 30th of June, Gonzalez resigned from Silverton's police department. He had been arrested in July and charged with child abuse.[34] On December 7, 2008, Gonzalez was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months imprisonment when he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage girl.[35]

Points of interest[edit]

Political cartoonist Homer Davenport's self-portrait, November 1901
  • Silverton is the gateway to Silver Falls State Park, Oregon's largest state park. Town Square Park in downtown is a small park with a footbridge crossing Silverton Creek and a war memorial.
  • The Oregon Garden, an 80-acre (32 ha) botanical park, is in Silverton.
  • Shrine of Bobbie the Wonder Dog replica of Bobbie and his 1920s era doghouse
  • Gordon House, located on the grounds of Silverton's Oregon Garden, is the only house in the Pacific Northwest designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which is open to the public. Gordon House was one of the last of Lloyd Wright's famed Usonian designs.
  • Silverton has a number of outsized murals, including Norman Rockwell's The Four Freedoms originally painted on the side of a building located at 402 Main Street in Silverton, and visible from Second Street[36] In 2015, the original building was razed and, after abandoning hopes to salvage them, the murals were destroyed during demolition. However, community efforts replaced them with a new replica at 990 N. First St.[37]
  • Every August, the Homer Davenport Community Festival celebrates Silverton's most famous citizen—writer, political cartoonist, and Arabian horse breeder Homer Davenport (1867–1912)—with exhibits, entertainment, an arts and crafts fair, rides, races, contests, a cartooning competition, a party, and a parade.
  • The Palace Theater in Silverton's Commercial Historic District is a movie theater constructed in the early 1900s. Originally called the Opera House, it has been showing motion pictures to the public since at least 1909. The Palace Theater has survived two fires, one in 1935 that destroyed a large portion of downtown,[38] and the other in April 2012. The 2012 fire was mostly limited to the concession area, although the smoke damage was extensive and caused at least one other business to temporarily close.[39] The theater was later co-owned by the former mayor, Stu Rasmussen, the first openly transgender mayor in the United States.[40]

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Oct 12, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ Frederick, Gus. "The Oregon Encyclopedia: Silverton". Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  6. ^ Evans 1996, p. 73.
  7. ^ "2010 Census profiles: Oregon cities alphabetically R-S" (PDF). Portland State University Population Research Center. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
  8. ^ a b Allen 2010, pp. E1–E9.
  9. ^ John Elliott Allen, Marjorie Burns, Sam C. Sargent, Cataclysms on the Columbia: A Layman's Guide to the Features Produced by the Catastrophic Bretz Flood in the Pacific Northwest, Timber Press (Portland, OR 1986), ASIN B003XPEPX2, pp 175–189
  10. ^ Orr, Elizabeth L.; Orr, William N.; Baldwin, Ewart M. (December 1992). Geology of Oregon (4th ed.). Kendall Hunt. pp. 211–14. ISBN 0840380585.
  11. ^ Allen 2010, p. 2.
  12. ^ Evans 1996, p. 7.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  14. ^ Climate Summary for Silverton, Oregon
  15. ^ Evans 1996, pp. 2–3.
  16. ^ "SILVERTON, OR (357823)". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  17. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  18. ^ Census Viewer 2000 and 2010
  19. ^ Silver Falls School District
  20. ^ SCAN-TV, Silverton, OR
  21. ^ Silverton High School 2014 Performance Ratings
  22. ^ "History of Silverton, Silverton Origins". City of Silverton.
  23. ^ 'Irishman's killing spurs uproar abroad' (The Oregonian, 5 July 2008)
  24. ^ a b 'Family wants answers after US shooting (RTÉ,3 July 2008)
  25. ^ 'Inquest hears Dublin shot by police was unarmed (19 March 2009)
  26. ^ a b c d 'Irishman shot dead by US police'
  27. ^ 'Andrew Hanlon: gunned down by an American cop'
  28. ^ 'Andrew Hanlon shot seven times by US police'
  29. ^ 'Andrew Hanlon: gunned down by an American cop (Bock the Robber, 3 July 2008)
  30. ^ a b 'Cops kill Irishman in Oregon' (IrishAbroad, 10 July 2008)
  31. ^ 'Irishman's killing spurs uproar abroad' (The Oregonian, 5 July 2008)
  32. ^ 'Almost 100 protest deadly police shooting' (The Oregonian, 3 July 2008)
  33. ^ 'Grand jury: Silverton police officer justified in shooting death' (The Oregonian, 24 July 2008)
  34. ^ 'US officer who killed Dubliner arrested'(Irish Examiner,(14 July 2008)
  35. ^ 'Former Silverton cop pleads guilty to sex abuse' (, 9 December 2008)
  36. ^ Silverton's Mural Society
  37. ^ Our Town Newsletter
  38. ^ "Silverton".
  39. ^ "Will the show go on after Silverton theater fire?". Statesman Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  40. ^ "Palace Theater - Fire Damage Report". Palace Theater. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  41. ^ "Teacher's video on global warming a hit online", Newhouse News Service via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 20, 2007 (accessed June 21, 2009)
  42. ^ Penning, Jack (November 7, 2008). "Transgender Man Elected Mayor of Silverton". KGW. Portland, Oregon: Belo Corp.
  43. ^ Christy, Courtney (January 9, 2015). "Nation's First Transgender Mayor Leaves Office". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  44. ^ "Bandits (2001) filming locations". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 26, 2007.

External links[edit]