Forest Grove Firsts, the start of great ideas:

Since its founding by Oregon Trail pioneers in 1841, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism have inspired great things to happen in Forest Grove. It is here that they founded the first university west of the Mississippi, planted the first of Oregon’s Willamette Valley’s famous pinot noir grapes, and today attracts creative artists, entrepreneurs, academics and winemakers.

Our History

  • Harvey L. Clark was an educator, missionary, and early settler. A native of Vermont, he moved to Oregon Country and then to West Tuality on the Tualatin Plains. This location would later become the town of Forest Grove, and Clark would take a land claim at the location. He participated in the Champoeg Meetings and voted for the creation of the Provisional Government of Oregon. He helped found the Tualatin Academy that later became Pacific University.
  • Tabitha Moffatt Brown was a pioneer emigrant who traveled the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country. There she assisted in the founding of Tualatin Academy, which would grow to become Pacific University. Brown was honored in 1987 by the Oregon Legislature as the “Mother of Oregon.”
  • Forest Grove has three historic districts, the eighteen block Clark District, the Walker-Naylor District, and the Painters Wood District. They are Washington County’s only designated Nationally Recognized Historic Districts with homes dating back to the 1850’s.
  • Fifteen buildings in the downtown and the adjacent historic neighborhoods are listed in the National Register of Historic Places


  • In 1904 Forest Grove winemaker Ernest Reuter won a medal at the St. Louis World Fair, the first recorded by an Oregon Winemaker
  • Pinot Noir was first planted in Willamette Valley by Charles Coury in 1965 at the present day David Hill Vineyard.
  • In 1984 Bill Fuller of Tualatin Estates Vineyard was the first Oregon winemaker to win best of show awards for Pinot and Chardonnay at the London international competition.
  • Tualatin Estates was the first Oregon winery to make the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 in 1989.
  • Sake One is the only American-owned sakery.
  • Tualatin Estates Pinot Noir captured the Governor’s Trophy, Oregon’s most prestigious wine award, two consecutive years in 1994 and 1995. This is a feat unduplicated by any Oregon winery.


  • Music in May is one of the longest running high school festivals in the US, running since 1948.
  • The annual Luau at Pacific University is the 2nd largest student run luau in the USA.
  • The world’s largest barber pole is located on Main Street near to Lincoln Park.


  • Pacific University, originally established in 1848 as Tualatin Academy is the oldest chartered university west of the Mississippi.
  • The first class at Pacific University was held in College Hall in 1851 . College Hall is one of the oldest educational structures in the western United States and longest standing academic building west of the Mississippi.

Science and Research

  • North Pacific College of Optometry (now the Pacific University College of Optometry) is the first program of its type to award a Doctor of Optometry degree in the U.S.
  • Joseph Conrad Chamberlin was an arachnologist who studied mainly pseudoscorpions. Chamberlin has had two name groups and eleven species named in his honor. In 1939, Chamberlin moved to the Forest Grove, Oregon station where he remained until 1961.
  • The Pacific baseball team was the first to use an experimental contact lens, developed by Pacific Optometry professor Alan Reichow, designed to help players see the ball better in varying light conditions. The lenses, made and marketed by Nike, are now used by professional athletes in a variety of sports.
  • Pacific University faculty helped research the HI–VIS soccer ball for Nike. This yellow and blue ball has been designed to make it easier for fans, referees and players at the game and on television to see the ball.

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