April Featured Park: Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area

Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area is one of the newest parks in the Oregon State Parks system. Opened in 2006 on the site of Fort Yamhill near the Grand Ronde reservation, the park offers a glimpse of history as well as views of Spirit Mountain, a site sacred to Native Americans also known by its Kalapuya name, dji’ntu.

The interpretive trail is short and two-thirds of it is compacted gravel suitable for wheelchairs, although the grade may be challenging for non-motorized chairs. The last .2-mile section heads down through a shady grove along what was once part of the Killimuck Trail used by native people to reach the coast.

The history surrounding the fort is a reminder of the dark side of Oregon’s past as a territory and the conflict among settlers, the United States government, and native people. While the fort was in use by US soldiers for less than ten years, today it is a significant site for archaeological research.

Visiting the park is an opportunity to learn and understand more about the difficult past of our nation as well as the Northwest. Exhibits and restoration work at the park has been done in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Archaeological exploration has provided insight into the daily lives of people living in and around the fort during the 19th century.

Oregon Parks Forever helped raise funds for the initial archaeological discovery and restoration of the only remaining historic building on the site. There is no parking fee and plenty of picnic spots to choose from here. The park is also near the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center (open weekdays, Tuesday-Friday). The Chachalu center is a hub for cultural activity and preservation of the history of the Grand Ronde people.

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