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Local History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical Sketch

A black and white image of a church in Bellfountain. Ben Maxwell Collection, Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections, Salem Public Library, Salem, OregonLocated on present-day Bellfountain Road, southwest of Corvallis and 2.5 miles north of Alpine, Bellfountain was originally founded as "Belknap's Settlement." Its namesake, George Belknap, came to Benton County from Iowa in 1847. In 1895, a post office was established; originally referred to as the "Dusty" post office, the name was later officially changed to Bellfountain. There is some debate as to the source of the name Bellfountain; while some maintain that the city was named in honor of Bellefontaine, Ohio, others claim it was named for the Bell Fountain, a natural spring roughly one mile west of the city on the site of present-day Bellfountain Park. There is, however, a Bellefountain, Iowa, near where George Belknap and his wife, Keturah Penton, lived before traveling west to Oregon.

In 1937, the Class B Bellfountain High School Bells, competing against schools two to three times their size, won the state basketball championship, beating Portland's Franklin High School and Lincoln High School in the semi-finals and finals, respectively.


Robert W. Henderson Papers, 1933-2005
The Robert W. Henderson Papers document Henderson's student years at Oregon State College; his work with Kasetsart University in Thailand; his research as a plant breeder and an Assistant Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station; his long-time interest in photography; and the slide presentations he developed about OSU agricultural research. Henderson graduated from Oregon State College in 1938 and served as a faculty member and administrator at OSU from 1946 until his retirement in 1976. An addition to the Henderson's papers, Accession 2010:087, includes thank you letters to Henderson from Bellfountain School students (Box 01).

Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection, ca. 1860-present
The Memorabilia Collection is an artificial collection containing items of interest about Oregon State University and to a lesser extent, the city of Corvallis, and the state of Oregon. Included in the ephemera of the collection is a Bellfountain School Picnic ribbon from 1895 (Box-Folder 139.2). Select items from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.


Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides Collection, 1936-1998
The Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides provide visual documentation of Oregon State University and the state of Oregon from, in bulk, the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. Consisting of nearly 16,000 unique 35-mm color slides, all of which are described individually, the collection depicts a wide range of university activities, particularly as concerns agricultural research and the development of agricultural practices at OSU's county Extension offices and regional Experiment Stations. Robert Henderson (1914-2006) was an OSU alum and photography enthusiast who worked as a faculty member in Farm Crops and the Agricultural Experiment Station for thirty years. The collection contains 4 images of Bellfountain and the surrounding area: image #02656 (Pear orchard near Bellfountain, Box 03), image #11217 (Beef cattle near Bellfountain, Box 11), image #11241 (Christmas trees on hillside near Bellfountain, Box 11), and image #15831 (Bellfountain Park, Picnic table made from one log, Box 15). The Henderson Slides are being digitized for online access in Oregon Digital.

Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection, circa 1860-1949
The Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection contains images of the Horning Carding Mill and F.A. Horning residence, and includes written histories of both subjects. Also held within the collection are images, taken in the 1940s, of public schools from all around the Willamette Valley. One such image is of the Bellfountain School (image #20, Box 01). An image from this collection is available online in Oregon Digital.

Extension and Experiment Station Communications Photograph Collection, 1912-1997
The Extension and Experiment Station Communications Photograph Collection consists of about 25,500 images generated by Experiment Station staff. These images were used in publications such as Oregon's Agricultural Progress and Pacific Northwest Bulletins as well as news releases, poster presentations and displays. The images depict a variety of OSU research projects, Experiment Station branch facilities, portraits of OSU staff, Extension and Experiment Station-sponsored events, and animal-oriented topics. Included in the collection is an image of the Bellfountain Park spring in 1924 (image #1313, Box 04). Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

News and Communication Services Photograph Collection, 1949-1999
The News and Communication Services Photograph Collection contains images generated and collected by the News and Communication Services Office that depict campus buildings, faculty and staff, recreational and athletic activities, and other events. The collection includes images of students of the Westminster Foundation traveling to Bellfountain for church service, November, 24 1961 (images #5969-5972, Box 10). Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Digital Resources

Looking for online content? Oregon Digital, ScholarsArchive, and Media Space contain a wealth of digitized materials that document the rich history of Oregon's residential communities. Often, digitized materials are gathered together as sets, either by publication or collection. Please note that links listed below are "canned searches" for specific content relating to the city, town, or community in question.