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Local History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Historical Sketch

Taking its namesake from its first white settler, Nahum A. King, present-day Kings Valley is a small community in Benton County, Oregon. It is located on the Luckiamute River and Oregon Route 223, 4 miles northeast of Hoskins, Oregon and 20 miles northwest of Corvallis.

In 1845, Sarepta and Nahum King and over two dozen of their family members emigrated to Oregon from St. Joseph, Missouri. By 1846, Nahum King and other members of the party had filed donation land claims along the Luckiamute River; so many, in fact, that by 1854 the area had become known as Kings Valley. Rowland Chambers – husband of Nahum King’s late daughter Sarah – built the “first recorded gristmill in rural Benton County” in 1853, powered by a small, naturally occurring falls along the Luckiamute. The mill’s stone was originally quarried in France, brought by ship to New York and then Portland, Oregon, and then brought overland by wagon to the mill site in 1852. The mill was in production for more than 60 years, and though it has since fallen into disrepair, the stone is on display in Avery Park in Corvallis. In 1855, the Kings Valley post office was established with Chambers as the first postmaster, and served the community until the 1970s.

Constructed in the 1860s, the Kings Valley Store originally sold “hardware, dry goods, livestock, feed, groceries, and gasoline and housed the telephone exchange.” The store’s second story functioned as a community center, hosting gatherings of the local Odd Fellows, as well as “country dances, socials, medicine shows, wedding receptions and high school parties.” As of 2021, the Kings Valley Store the only brick and mortar business open in Kings Valley.


Rice Family Photograph Album, 1935-1947
The Rice Family Photograph Album includes images of children, family groups, pets, and homes in Oregon and Indiana. Most of the individuals are not identified, but there are several photographs of Ann, Walt, and Allen as children. Identified images include the Rice's home in Indiana; children at the Clay School; family reunions; a women's reading circle in Kings Valley (Box 01); "leaving for Oregon"; "starting west"; a victory garden; a Labor Day picnic on Marys Peak; and snow on the Oregon State College campus. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection, circa 1860-1949
The Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection is comprised of black and white images of the Horning Carding Mill and Frederick A. Horning residence, and images, taken in the 1940s, of public schools from in and around the Willamette Valley, including the Kings Valley School (Box 01, image #36). The photographs appear to have been collected, rather than created by VanCleave, and many, if not all, are copy prints.

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. An image of farm buildings on the Emery Moore Ranch in Kings Valley is included in the collection (Box 5, Image #03681). The Henderson Slides are being digitized for online access in Oregon Digital.

Extension Bulletin Illustrations Photograph Collection, 1915-1963
The Extension Bulletin Illustrations Photograph Collection consists of images that were created and assembled for use in Oregon State College Extension Service publications and county reports. They document extension activities in agriculture, home economics, and youth programs. A photograph of the Kings Valley railway station (Box 04, image #1035) is included in the collection. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Journalism Department Photographs, 1930-1984
The Journalism Department Photographs consist of images created or acquired by Journalism Department staff for use in publications and displays as well as photographs taken and mounted by students for class projects. Subject include student activities, campus buildings, and Oregon scenic views. A view of Marys Peak, from Kings Valley, is included among the scenic views (Box 01, image #053). Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Ernest Cook Photographic Collection, circa 1890-1915
The Ernest Cook Photographic Collection consists of photographs published in the OSU Research Forests oral history of Wanda Marcks Cook and includes images of the Sulphur Springs Stock Ranch and the Oregon Agricultural College campus in the 1910s. An image captured on the Sulphur Springs Stock Ranch in the 1910s, features Kings Valley Ridge in the background (Box 01, image #19). Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Oral Histories

Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection, 1975-1978
The Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection consists of 33 interviews conducted primarily in the summer of 1975 by Oregon State University students to document various aspects of local history from 1880 to 1929 in preparation for the United States bicentennial in 1976. Interviewees who discuss or are associated in some way with Kings Valley include: Chester W. and Rita C. Chambers (Nahum King's son and daughter in law), Chester J. Cosgrove (long-time Kings Valley resident), Ethel Morgan (great granddaughter of Nahum King), and Bertha King (descendant of Nahum King). Nearly all of the audiocassettes held in this collection have been digitized and are available upon patron request. Transcripts for all the oral histories in this collection are also available.

Rare Books

Kings Valley Parents Club, History Committee. Looking Back. Kings Valley, Oregon: The Club, 1985. F884.K52 L61 1985*

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.