OregonScape: Spring 2014

Summer 2014, 115:2

Though people have lived in the lower Willamette Valley for millennia, few identified sites remain from the times before the arrival of newcomers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. One such place is The Pow Wow Tree, a big leaf maple tree (Acer macrophyllum) that grows near the Clackamas River. Near this tree, the Clackamas and Multnomah tribes would meet with other people to conduct business and settle affairs. The tree is now the emblem of the city of Gladstone.

Located on Clackamas Boulevard, the area around the tree has been the site of many events. Local Indians had a racetrack next to the tree. Peter Rinearson, whose donation land claim included the tree, used the track to train his racehorses. In 1861, the first Oregon State Fair was held on the site with the racetrack serving as the parade ring and the Pow Wow Tree standing at the fair’s entrance.

In 1979, the Pow Wow Tree was named as a Bicentennial Tree (alive at the time of the American Revolution). In 2004, it became an Oregon Heritage Tree. The Pow Wow Tree is as seventy feet tall, spreading eighty feet wide, with a trunk circumference of seven feet. The tree was damaged in an ice storm in 2004, but determined efforts by the city have preserved the tree. It still stands on Clackamas Blvd., between Bellevue Avenue and Beatrice Avenue.