Sweet Home History
Settlers first arrived in the Sweet Home Valley in 1851. Early settlers shared the valley with the friendly Santiam band of the Kalapuyan Indian Tribe. The camas plant and antlered game were plentiful. The Indians occupied this part of Eastern Linn County until 1921 when Indian Lize, the last remaining member of the Kalapuyan tribe, died.
Sweet Home was built on a vast, prehistoric petrified forest. Indeed, the area is still well known for its treasures, as rockhounds seek a variety of agate, jasper, crystals, and minerals.
During the 1980s, Sweet Home experienced a major decline in population and industry as environmental issues forced the closure of sawmills and logging operations. During these tough times, the community banded together and rode out the changes, eventually turning the tide of recession into a wave of progression. Throughout the 1990s, using grant dollars provided by the Federal government, Sweet Home’s downtown corridor was revitalized, small businesses were encouraged to come to Sweet Home, and assisted living facilities were built to accommodate a retiring community.The Town With Two Names
This historic town began with two other names: the upper part of town was nicknamed Mossville; the lower part was called Buck Head. According to historians, Sweet Home was later named after the lovely green Sweet Home Valley. The winding, clear water of the South Santiam River finds its way through the edge of the City where high tree-covered mountains tower over the small community.Sweet Home Incorporated
In 1893, Sweet Home became an incorporated city in Linn County, Oregon. A toll gate was built a few miles east of town, charging travelers to cross over the Cascade Range. As recently as 1878, Sweet Home consisted of only four square blocks, totaling 32 lots. Almost overnight, because of the demand for lumber created by the defense program of the 1940s, the sleepy little village was transformed into a pulsing boom town with logging operations starting throughout the area.The Gateway to Recreation and Industrial Activities
A second shot in the arm was given to the community in 1962 when construction work began on nearby Green Peter Dam and continued as construction began on the Foster Dam in 1966. Instead of Sweet Home being hidden away by itself, as it was for 80 years, it now became the gateway to recreation and industrial activities in Eastern Linn County.