On the fourth of July in Oregon, one of the best spots for taking the pulse of the state’s celebratory spirit is none other than the city of Independence. On the west bank of the Willamette River twelve miles southwest of Salem, the city is awash in true small-town Americana, from the area Rotary Club’s Grand Parade, to a carnival, live entertainment at the town amphitheater and a show of fireworks rocketing over the river.
During the Western Days events around the holiday, the small town buzzes with hoards of visitors who know about Independence summers.
The name Independence was suggested by a pioneer, Mrs. Thomas Burbank, who took the name from a town in Missouri. The first wagon trains that made it here had set out from Missouri in May of 1844, and traveled the Oregon Trail for nearly a year, arriving in June of 1845.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Independence’s hop industry exploded like fireworks, and was known as the “Hop Capitol of the World.” During the hop harvest, the population of Independence swelled to up to 50,000 hop pickers.
In 1989, the Independence Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 30-block area on the west bank of the Willamette River retains much of the early character and architecture from the 1880’s to the 1920’s. Architectural styles here include Victorian, Gothic, Craftsman, Italianate, Spanish Colonial.
Find out more about living and having fun in modern Independence, click here.