About This Place
Forest Grove is a city in Washington County, Oregon, United States, 25 miles (40 km) west of Portland. Originally a small farm town, it is now primarily a bedroom suburb of Portland. Settled in the 1840s, the town was platted in 1850 and then incorporated in 1872 and was the first city in Washington County. The population was 17,708 at the 2000 census. As of 2007, the estimated population is 20,775.
Located in the Tualatin Valley, Oregon routes 6, 8, and 47 pass through Forest Grove with 47 and 8 signed as the Tualatin Valley Highway east and south of the main part of the city. Oregon Route 8 is signed as Gales Creek Road west of the city. Pacific University has been the most distinctive aspect of the town throughout its history. Old College Hall on campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with nine other structures in the city. Local employers include the university as well as Tuality Forest Grove Hospital and Merix Corporation.
Prior to the 1840s when Euro-Americans settled the area, the Atfalati band of the Kalapuya Native American tribe lived on the Tualatin Plains in what is now Forest Grove. In 1841, Alvin T. and Abigail Smith were among the earliest to use the Oregon Trail and settled on what was first known as West Tualatin Plain. They overwintered with Henry Harmon Spalding, arriving in what is now Forest Grove in the fall. Intending to be missionaries, they found little potential as most of the natives had succumbed to European diseases. Smith served as the community's first postmaster beginning on February 1, 1850, and his log cabin served as the post office.