Brownsville: Bustling town that’s truly down home


Brownsville, one of Oregon’s oldest communities, is nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, on the east edge of the Willamette Valley. An easy drive from all of western Oregon’s major population centers and only four miles from I-5, Brownsville feels like home the minute you drive across the iconic green bridge over the Calapooia River. The tiny downtown lined with historic buildings bustles with shoppers, visitors, farm equipment, and often during special events, vintage cars or horse-drawn carriages.

Brownsville sits at the mouth of the Calapooia River Valley, originally the home of the Kalapuya people. In the early 1840s, Oregon Trail pioneers migrated into the area, crossing the river at Kirk’s Ferry, establishing farms and building homes. Many of the earliest houses and farms still exist, scattered around the town and dotting the neighboring countryside. A historic millrace, built in 1858 before Oregon achieved statehood and serving as a power source for early industries such as a woolen mill and lumber mill, meanders through town. The town was also brought to life in Rob Reiner’s film “Stand by Me” in 1985.

History is alive in Brownsville