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Fort Yamhill (1855-1866) Established 26 Mar 1856 during the Rogue River Indian War by Lt. William B. Hazen to watch over Indian tribes relocated from southern Oregon. Named after the nearby South Fork of the Yamhill river. Abandoned after the U.S. Civil War in 1866.
Fort Yamhill History
The fort was sited and construction begun by Lt. William B. Hazen 26 Mar 1856. The site chosen overlooked the Grand Ronde Indian Agency and the relocated tribes. The fort was positioned just west of a demarcation line drawn earlier to separate the settlers and the Indians and along the military road to the coast. The post also adjoined the Killimuck Indian trail so access could be controlled. Civil War General Philip H. Sheridan, then a 2nd Lieutenant, joined Lt. Hazen at Fort Yamhill 25 Apr 1857 and, as quartermaster, supervised the completion of the fort. Sheridan remained at the fort until the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 except for a 9 month assignment to Fort Hoskins.
At its peak, Fort Yamhill housed two or three companies for a total of about 250 men. Two similar outposts were created to watch over Indian agencies: Fort Hoskins in Benton County, and Fort Umpqua across from Winchester Bay, Oregon. Fort Yamhill was abandoned and disassembled in 1866. The buildings were auctioned off and the land sold to private interests on 27 Aug 1866. The original blockhouse was removed in 1911 and now resides in Dayton City Park, Dayton, Oregon.
The remains of the fort were rediscovered and a 55 acre Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area was open to the public 31 Jul 2006. The remains of a single building, thought to be Lt. Sheridan's quarters, survived on the site but was moved and later incorporated into another building. That building will be restored to the original configuration and will be moved back to the original location on officers row. Click here to see the Sheridan House over the years. It is unclear if the original blockhouse, now in Dayton, will be restored to the original location.
A 1991 survey revealed the location of at least 24 major buildings that once occupied the site including:
Dr. David Brauner from the Oregon State University Anthropology Department is conducting a multi-year excavation project on the site. His current focus is on the six buildings that made up the officer's quarters on the East side of the post and on the post kitchen located near the center of the post. The kitchen excavation is viewable from the newly constructed path through the post. In 2007 the excavations expanded to include other buildings on the post. Follow this link to view pictures of the excavation.
Location: About 2 miles northeast of Spirit Mountain Casino in Polk County, Oregon.
Maps & Images
Lat: 45.068702 Long: -123.570528
- Hart, Herbert M., Tour Guide to Old Western Forts, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder CO, 1980, ISBN 0-87108-568-2, page 138
- Frazer, Robert W., Forts of the West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1965, ISBN 0-8061-1250-6, page 133
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 670
- McArthur, Lewis A. & McArthur, Lewis L., Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press; 7 edition (December 2003), 1073 pages, ISBN 0875952771, ISBN 978-0875952772, page 375
- Oregon Military History, Forts-Camps-Roads
- Statesman Journal 13 Aug 2005
- Statesman Journal 28 Jul 2006
- North American Forts - Fort Yamhill
- Wikipedia - Fort Yamhill
- Fort Yamhill Park
- Statesman Journal 29 Jul 2008
- Oregon State Parks Dept. Master Plan
- USGS - Fort Yamhill
- Cooper, Edward S., William Babcock Hazen: The Best Hated Man, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (October 2005), ISBN-10:0838640893, ISBN-13:978-0838640890, page 31-32
- Bensell, Royal A., Gunter Barth ed., All Quiet on the Yamhill: The Civil War in Oregon, University of Oregon Books, Eugene, Oregon, 1959
Visited: 4 Jun 2011, Aug 2007, Aug 2006, Jul 2006, Nov 2005
Click on the pictures to see a larger version.