Story By Gini Bramlett
Photos by Willamalane Park and Rec. District
If you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff or both, a visit to Dorris Ranch in Springfield should be on your bucket list. Dorris Ranch in southwest Springfield, part of the Willamalane Park and Recreation District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is a national historic site, a working farm and a public park complete with walking trails and natural areas. The ranch also serves as the western access point of the paved, four-mile-long Middle Fork Path, which runs to Clearwater Park. Dorris Ranch is recognized as the first commercial filbert orchard in the United States. Oregon’s history with filberts started in 1892 when George Dorris and his wife Lulu bought 250 acres of fertile land along the Willamette River and dedicated their lives to farming. After experimenting with a variety of crops, George established the first commercial filbert orchard in the United States. Over the next 50 years the Dorris family planted 9,200 trees at the ranch and harvested more than 50 tons of nuts each year. Now, more than 100 years later, Dorris Ranch continues to make history as a fully-productive commercial filbert orchard. More than half of all the commercial filbert trees now growing in the United States originated from Dorris Ranch nursery stock. The working ranch contains 11 orchards containing more than 9,000 trees on 75 acres. A local orchardist maintains the orchards. Visitors can step back to 1852 and discover what life was like for the original owners of the ranch, William and Eliza Masterson and their family, and view a replica of their simple 12-foot-by-16-foot log cabin, a blacksmith shop, a freight farm wagon and replicas of a 1830s fur trapper’s cabin and a Native American plank house. Dorris Ranch is also host to a variety of plants, flowers and birds. Come for a visit and enjoy a walk through this 250-acre historic site and natural area at your own pace on one of the park’s self-guided tours. Brochures with all the interesting facts, historical sites and a map of area paths are available at the entrance kiosk.
Dorris Ranch, 205 Dorris St., is open to the public weekdays and weekends from 6 a.m. till dusk. To get there from downtown Springfield, travel south on South 2nd St. The ranch is at the bottom of the hill.