"Historic Community now Suburb" Aurora by glabah

Aurora Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 29 photos

There isn't too much I can add to Aurora beyond what MtnCorgi has already posted about this small community. It started as a religious communite, but was dissolved in 1877 after its founder's death.

While at the time of its founding it was somewhat remote (the nearby Pudding River is hardly navigable except by the very smallest of craft, and roads were terrible into the 1920s), the community found itself part of the modern era when it became a convenient location through which to route the Oregon & California Railroad in 1869. The bend in the Willamette River near Canby dictated that the railroad line run diagonally south from there, and it so happened Aurora was placed on the best hill for the route. This hill in Aurora is the most significant obstacle on the ex-O&C, ex-Southern Pacific, now Union Pacific main line in the Willamette Valley, as it is fairly steep and long for such a flat railroad. Even into the diesel era it was not unusual for trains to have to stop in Aurora to break into pieces to get up this hill.

So, by 1877 Aurora had become part of the modern way of life. By the 1930s it was on the route of highway 99E, and today it is on a popular bypass route from interstate 5 to the eastern suburbs of Portland, Oregon City and Canby.

The good news is that the community was still remote enough that many of the historic structures (not just from the commune but from the community as a whole) were preserved into the modern era, when they could be appreciated for the historic artifacts they are.

Today, this means Aurora has become a center of the antique curiosity market, with many of the buildings in town having been converted to antique stores.

The city is also the home of the Pacific Hazelnut Candy Factory, which should be reason enough to stop in the town unless it happens to be at a time when they are closed.

Highway 99E provides a lot of traffic noise and congestion, but the good news is that once you get away from this busy highway the community (though small) is reasonably pleasant.

You would hope that in a historic community such as this, those building new homes here would at least give some nod to the historic nature of the community. Maybe at least preserve an old farmhouse or two that once served the land on which they built their subdivision, or maybe create houses with some of the historic decorations of the bygone eras, or even make the houses somewhat colorful like their historic companions.

Unfortunately, it is obvious what era Aurora became a popular bedroom community for Portland, Salem, Woodburn, Canby and Wilsonville. On one side of Oxcart Lane you will find a mixture of houses from the 1920s to 1950s, and on the other side of the street vast tracts of mass produced modern houses from the last few years that all look exactly alike, with no effort at all to even preserve a few of the larger trees or other segments of the landscape. Also, as usual in the modern communities all of the houses are approximately the same color too.

Which at least means we can appreciate all the more what has been preserved in the few blocks of downtown Aurora.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small historic communtiy with historic buildings. Easy to walk through most of community.
  • Cons:Other than museum and candy store, not much here other than antique shops. Only a few blocks of old community is preserved. Public transit service only on weekdays. Only 2-3 restaurants survive after series of closures.
  • In a nutshell:At the very least, stop at the Hazelnut Candy Factory. Even if old buildings are not your thing, certainly chocolate is - and they even have sugar free!
  • Last visit to Aurora: Dec 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 29, 2011
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Reviews (8)

Comments (1)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    You have certainly traveled a lot of Oregon and all is nice and nature prevails. I got a little closer to you on trip to Sacramento/Yosemite region

    • glabah's Profile Photo
      Oct 26, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      Thanks so much for your visit. As far as I know, you are the only one who has investigated my Aurora pages to any extent. I've been to Sacramento as I have relatives there, but I still need to get to Yosemite.

glabah

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