DescriptionLocated on the west bank of the Willamette River and a dozen miles upstream from the state capital, Independence was settled in the 1850s. After being destroyed by a flood in 1861, the town was rebuilt and became an early river port and trading center for surrounding farms. Many brick buildings constructed in the late 19th century continue to grace its historic core.
By the 1890s, the hop plant was a major crop and, until the 1940s, Independence was known as the “hop capital of the world.” The mid-August to mid-September harvest attracted thousands of workers, swelling the town's population by as many as 10,000 and to a total of 25,000 in the 1940s.
Just north of town, the E. Clemens Horst Co. boasted what was believed to be the world's single-largest hop field, with some 500-700 acres planted. The farm's village of small cabins housed thousands of seasonal workers. The hop industry declined post-World War II due to market competition and changing beer tastes, instead favoring the more mild hops grown in Washington's Yakima Valley.
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