Let’s venture to the Fun City Living in Springfield, Oregon
Springfield, Eugene, Oregon’s sister city, is located east across the Willamette River from Eugene in the South Willamette Valley. It was founded by pioneers Elias and Mary Briggs in 1848 and was chosen because of its pasture-land and spring water – hence the name of the town. During its early years, a sawmill and a flour-mill were built and a ferry serviced those crossing the Willamette River, a spot now occupied by a Union Pacific railroad bridge. Springfield City was incorporated in 1885 and is now home to almost 115,000 residents.
One of Springfield’s gems – The Washburne Historic District – is a moderately sized neighborhood comprised of 84 acres of homes adjacent to the downtown Springfield area. Washburne has many classic craftsman and cottage homes and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. This historic district was named after a prominent banker and miller C.W. Washburne, who was the owner and operator of Lane County’s most successful grist mills.
The Mill Race, a channel connecting the Willamette River and Mill Pond, was built to support Elias Briggs’ mills. In 1901, the sawmill property and the Mill Race were bought by the Booth-Kelly Lumber Company and about five decades later, the Weyerhaeuser Company, an American timberland company, purchased 31,000 acres of the local forest.
During timber’s peak, Springfield was a booming industrial town and Lane County was recognized as the “Timber Capital of the World.” However, the Weyerhaeuser Company was forced to downsize in the ’90s as old-growth lumber became less available. The Booth-Kelly Lumber Company, which was bought by Georgia-Pacific, now belongs to Springfield City.
Aside from its spring water and beautiful pastures, Springfield is also known for the many outdoor adventures enjoyed by a large number of tourists visiting the city yearly. The neighborhood’s extensive recreational sports and swimming center, Willamalane Park and Recreation District, is among the most visited spots in the area. In addition, Springfield City, located right off Interstate 5, has high-density hotels, restaurants, and shopping, which Eugene residents also love to visit. Springfield is one of the gateways to the Cascade Range, as it’s Main St., continuing east, becomes HWY 126 up into the mountains and the recreation enjoyed there.
Similarly, Springfield residents also have easy access to many of Eugene’s amenities such as the UO’s Autzen Stadium, Matthew Knight Arena, Alton Baker Park, and Oakway Shopping Center, among many others. Today, Springfield continues to flourish with new developments, businesses and a renewed focus on revitalizing the area while preserving its rich history.