Benton County, Oregon

Making Benton County a Better Place to Live
Printed on Aug 30, 2015 @ 12:54 PM

Welcome to Benton County's Fort Hoskins Historic Park

The 126-acre Fort Hoskins Park property is located west of the community of Kings Valley in the upper Luckiamute River Valley. Originally the site of historic Fort Hoskins (1856-1865), the property is now largely wooded and undeveloped, with an old farmhouse (circa 1870) and the ruins of several farm buildings and a schoolhouse. The property was purchased by Benton County for a park site in 1991.

Along the Interpretive Trail, there are several informative signs that describe historical aspects associated with the Fort.

The detailed Fort Hoskins Management Plan

  1. defines management objectives for the property
  2. evaluates current resource conditions
  3. describes a policy that will guide future management
  4. and outlines the activities necessary for resource enhancement and sustainable forestry

Return to Fort Hoskins Historic Park location page.

Benton County Parks Department awarded grants for the Development of Fort Hoskins Historic Park

Nestled in the foothills of the Coast Range, the Fort Hoskins Historic Park site consists of 128 acres located 16 miles northwest of Corvallis, Oregon. The site was purchased in 1992 and has been carefully planned for public use. The development of the Fort Hoskins Historic Park was funded in large part through a $142,922 from the Local Government Grant Program and a $52,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. The park opened to the public on July 1, 2002.

The Local Government Grant Program uses lottery funds from the voter approved Measure 66 to support local government park projects. There were a total of 67 projects submitted for review and of this number, 24 were awarded grants in July 2000. Fort Hoskins Historic Park was rated the number one project in the State. The grant is matched by Benton County to complete the recreational phase of site development work; this included construction of restrooms, roads, parking, picnic tables, and trails.

In January 2001, the Parks Department was notified that Meyer Memorial Trust, a private foundation, would fund the accessible interpretive trail and interpretive signs. This component introduced the park user to the rich history of the Fort site and surrounding area.

"This project has been accomplished with the assistance of many partnerships and citizen participation. The planning process for this effort is an excellent example of how to accomplish large projects of this size," said Dr. David Brauner, Oregon State University Archeologist and Chair of the Fort Hoskins Citizen Advisory Committee.

Fort Hoskins was established in 1856, as one of three forts in western Oregon commissioned in the newly established Siletz Indian Reservation. The fort was occupied by U.S. Infantry troops, and later by Oregon, California, and Washington infantry volunteers stationed in a remote corner of the new state. No Indian battles were ever fought at Fort Hoskins. Troops maintained a picket fence rather than battlements. Fort Hoskins' role in the Indian/Euro-American relations had significantly diminished by the end of the 1850's and early 1860's. The Fort ended its service by providing a valuable Union presence in Oregon during the Civil War, and was decommissioned in 1865.

They struggled with being at the end of all military supply lines, as illustrated in the following excerpt from A Webfoot Volunteer, The Diary of William M. Hilleary 1864-1866:

Fort Hoskins, Wed. Mar. 1, 1865. Rather cold all day. Snow covers the ground. I am on guard. We have a large pot of coffee sitting by the fire, from which we draw now and then (near midnight). No drill in the snow. Had plenty to eat all day. The boys did not have to take in a 'slow bear' either. [Note: 'Slow bear' is the term used by the troops for the local farmers' pigs that were occasionally taken for food, unofficially, of course.] I firmly believe that the rations allowed by the U. S. would be all we could dispose of if we could get them.

The Fort site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The rich, relatively intact, archaeological legacy remaining at the fort has been repeatedly confirmed during a series of professional archaeological investigations conducted at the site since 1976-77 by Oregon State University archaeologists. Excavations since County acquisition of the site have focused on the complementary goals of preservation, conservation, and development at the site. Thousands of artifacts have been recovered. Along with historical records, these artifacts allow exceptional insight into the everyday life of troops that were stationed on the edge of the western frontier. They have also helped in determining where and how development may occur, and will contribute to interpretive displays and exhibits regarding the Fort.

The future visitors' center was built by Samuel Frantz and his family in the late 1860's. This Gothic Revival Home was placed to the west of the Fort Hoskins Infirmary. It is presumed that materials from the Infirmary, as it was being dismantled, were incorporated into the construction of the home. This beautiful home with its double hung windows, steeply pitched roof, and molding detail is architecturally superb for the environment. David Pinyerd, University of Oregon documented it to Historic American Building Survey standards, in 1997. The most recent efforts have been completed plans by Design Community of Portland to restore the original north porch when funding is secured.

Additional funding through grants and donations will be required to complete the master plan, which provides for the restoration of the Frantz-Dunn House as a visitor center. The site will also serve as a working laboratory for students and teachers in the areas of archeology, forest management, native plant restoration, etc. Visitors will be able to recreate, picnic, hike, and learn; all at this beautiful site located in scenic northwestern Benton County.