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Fort Yamhill
Polk County, Oregon
Fort Yamhill blockhouse located in Dayton, Oregon.
Type Military base
Coordinates 45°04′08″N 123°34′12″W / 45.068952°N 123.570056°W / 45.068952; -123.570056Coordinates: 45°04′08″N 123°34′12″W / 45.068952°N 123.570056°W / 45.068952; -123.570056
Built 1856
In use 1856-1866
Demolished 1866
United States
Controlled by United States Army
Commanders Philip Sheridan

Fort Yamhill was an American military fortification in what became the state of Oregon. Built in 1856 in the Oregon Territory, it remained an active post until 1866. The Army outpost was used to provide a presence next to the Grand Ronde Agency Coastal Reservation. Several officers stationed at the United States Army post prior to the American Civil War would later serve as generals in that war.



Built in Polk County, Oregon, the outpost consisted of a wooden blockhouse, sentry box, barracks, officers’ quarters, carpenter's shop, hospital, cook houses, blacksmith shop, tables, barn, sutler’s store, and laundress quarters.[1] The wood blockhouse was built to provide a refuge to settlers of the area in case of attack by the Native Americans.[2] After the fort was abandoned the block house was moved from the hill it was positioned on and served as a jail in the Valley Junction area.[2]

Total cost to build the fort was $36,053.[1] The post’s first troops were under the command of William Babcock Hazen.[2] This garrison consisted of 76 men under three officers, but was reduced in 1858 to two officers and 33 enlisted men.[2]

Notable people

Company D of the Fourth California Infantry took over at the fort on November 11, 1861 under the command of Lyman S. Scott.[3] They replaced the Ninth Infantry that was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Philip A. Owen.[3] For a time between September 1863 and October 1864 the post was under the command of 2nd Lieutenant James Davison.[3]

  • General Philip Sheridan was posted at the fort until the outbreak of the American Civil War and supervised the construction.[1] At the time he was only a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.[4] Sheridan commanded Fort Yamhill from June 26, 1857 to July 31, 1857, and from June 26, 1861 to September 1, 1861 and was promoted to the rank of captain on May 14, 1861.[3]
  • Also posted at Fort Yamhill was corporal Royal A. Bensell whose journals became the award winning book, All Quiet on the Yamhill: The Civil War in Oregon by Royal A. Bensell. Edited by Gunter Barth.[3]
  • Civil War generals Joseph Hooker, Joseph Wheeler, and David Allen Russell all served at the fort.[2]

The fort today

The hill at Fort Yamhill in 2007
Sketch of Fort Yamhill with Joel Palmer inset

The blockhouse of the fort was moved to a park in downtown Dayton in 1911 to honor city founder Joel Palmer.[5] The actual site of the fort, which is in the Willamina vicinity, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971.[6] The address of the site is withheld,[6] however the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department runs the undeveloped Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area in partnership with Polk County and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and plans to reconstruct some of the fort buildings.[5]

Since 2005, Fort Yamhill has served as the site for the Oregon State University historical archaeology field school. Students work to uncover the foundations of Fort-era buildings.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Fort Yamhill Master Plan History. Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department. Retrieved on February 19, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  3. ^ a b c d e Barth, Gunter (1959). All Quiet on the Yamhill: The Civil War in Oregon by Royal A. Bensell. University of Oregon Books: Eugene, OR. ISBN 1167 6969.  
  4. ^ Horner, John B. (1921). Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature. The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland.
  5. ^ a b "Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area Master Plan" (PDF). July 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-29.  
  6. ^ a b "Oregon National Register List" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-08-29.  

External links



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