Date of visit: October 16, 2011
Population: 105,594 (2010 Census)

In the 1800s the Gresham area (known as Powell Valley back then) was sparsely populated and the people scattered around on farms. There was no church there so traveling preachers known as “circuit riders” visited outlying areas like this, traveling from one rural area to another. Religious camp meetings in the summer were big events. Not only were they a chance for people to get together and worship with the circuit rider preacher, but they provided an opportunity to see friends and family, share news, and eat food. Some families built lean-tos or cabins on site so they could spend the week in comfort. The book Gresham: Stories From Our Past describes it all as a “prolonged picnic.”

Gresham’s first camp meeting was held in the fall of 1855 and became an annual affair. The meeting grounds — referred to as a campground — was a two-acre grove of firs and cedars in what is now downtown Gresham.  In 1880 a storm blew down the trees and destroyed the campground. The Methodists built a small church on the site, where circuit riders preached to the congregation until a permanent minister was assigned in 1905.

Welcome to Gresham

Once a church
The former German Evangelical Church, now a home decor store

Zimmerman House
The historic Zimmerman House, built in 1874

Wildwood Cafe
The Wildwood Cafe in downtown Gresham

Main Street
Downtown Gresham

Gresham Library
The Gresham Library

Arching bridge
Bridge in the City Park

The old library is now a museum

Witter House
The Witter House was built in the late 1800s

Map of Gresham

Oregon Towns Project

Old Vista Ridge Trail

Greg and I headed out on the Old Vista Ridge Trail on Sunday. This trail was abandoned by the Forest Service for many years, but volunteers cleaned it up in 2007 and it now makes for a great hike! The last time we were here in early October of 2009 it was miserably cold and we had to hike through snow because there had been a big dump the previous week. This time we had MUCH more pleasant conditions!

Fall is going strong up there. We saw lots of red leaves alongside the trail.

We stopped at Alki Point, but the view to the north isn’t so great with all the wildfire smoke.

Once past Alki Point the trail loses elevation. This section is also somewhat overgrown, although the trail is still easy to follow.

We hiked all the way out to the old trailhead, where the Red Hill Guard Station used to be. (I have no idea why the G.S. was named after a hill that is over a mile away.) Below is a picture of the place from 1954 and it had a very unusual fire lookout platform up on the roof. I’ve never seen anything like it.

All that’s left now is the foundation of the station.

And the foundation of some kind of garage or shed.

After that we hiked back up the way we came. We had skipped Owl Point before but visited it on our way out. The view, of course, was awesome.

Looking east.

Then we hiked back out to the car. We ran into seven other people on the trail plus a large family with their dog. Nice to see people hiking this great trail!

Of course on the way home we stopped at the informal roadside viewpoint for an evening view of our lovely mountain.