Corvallis, Oregon

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Corvallis, Oregon
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Motto: Enhancing Community Livability
Location of Corvallis within Oregon.
Location of Corvallis within Oregon.
Corvallis is located in USA
Location in the United States
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State  Oregon
County Benton
Founded / Incorporated 1845 / 1857
 • Mayor Biff Traber (D)[1]
 • City 14.30 sq mi (37.04 km2)
 • Land 14.13 sq mi (36.60 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
Elevation 235 ft (72 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 54,462
 • Estimate (2013)[4] 55,298
 • Density 3,854.4/sq mi (1,488.2/km2)
 • Urban 62,433 (US: 436th)
 • Metro 86,591 (US: 367th)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 97330-97331, 97333, 97339
Area code(s) 541, 458
FIPS code 41-15800[3]
GNIS feature ID 1140162[5]
Website City of Corvallis

Corvallis /kɔːrˈvæls/ is a city in central western Oregon, United States. It is the county seat of Benton County[6] and the principal city of the Corvallis, Oregon Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Benton County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 54,462.[7] Its population was estimated by the Portland Research Center to be 55,298 in 2013.[4] Corvallis is the location of Oregon State University and a large Hewlett-Packard research campus.

At a longitude of 123 degrees west and 17 minutes, the city is the westernmost city in the lower 48 states with a population larger than 50,000.


In 1845, Joseph C. Avery settled a land claim at the mouth of Marys River where it flows into the Willamette River.[8] In 1849, Avery opened a store at the site, platted the land, and surveyed a town site on his land claim, naming the community Marysville.[8] It is possible that the city was named after early settler Mary Lloyd, but now the name is thought to be derived from French fur trappers' naming of Marys Peak after the Virgin Mary.[9]

In December 1853 the 5th Oregon Territorial Legislature met in Salem, where a petition was presented seeking to change the name of that city to either "Thurston" or "Valena."[10] At the same time, another petition was presented seeking to change the name of Salem to "Corvallis," from the Latin meaning "heart of the valley," while a third resolution was presented to the upper house seeking the change the name of Marysville to Corvallis.[10] A heated debate followed, with the name ultimately awarded to Marysville in an act passed on December 20, 1853.[10] Corvallis was incorporated as a city on January 29, 1857.[11]

A faction within the deeply divided legislature sought to make Corvallis the capital of the Oregon Territory, and in December 1855 the 6th Territorial Legislature initially convened there before returning to Salem later than month — the town which would eventually be selected as the permanent seat of state government.[8]

Nineteenth-century Corvallis saw a three-year boom beginning in 1889, which began with the establishment of a privately-owned electrical plant by L.L. Hurd.[12] A flurry of publicity and public and private investment followed, including construction of a grand county courthouse, planning and first construction of a new street railway, construction of a new flour mill along the river between Monroe and Jackson Avenues, and construction of the Hotel Corvallis, today known as the Julian Hotel.[12]

In addition a carriage factory was launched in the city and the town's streets were improved, while the size of the city was twice enlarged through annexation.[12] Bonds were issued for a city-owned water works, a sewer system, and for public ownership of the electric plant.[12] A publicity campaign was launched to attempt to expand the tax base through new construction for new arrivals.[12] This effort proved mostly unsuccessful, however, and in 1892 normalcy returned, with the city saddled with about $150,000 in bonded debt.[12]


Corvallis is at an elevation of 235 feet (72 m) above sea level.[13] Situated midway in the Willamette Valley, Corvallis is about 46 miles (74 km) east of Newport and the Oregon Coast, 85 miles (137 km) south of Portland, 30 miles (48 km) south of the state capital, Salem, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Albany, about 10 miles (16 km) west of Interstate 5 at its closest point, and 48 miles (77 km) north of Eugene/Springfield. Oregon Route 99W, a secondary north-south route, also runs through Corvallis. U.S. Route 20 (which leads to Newport) and Oregon Route 34 (which leads to Waldport about 56 miles (90 km) to the west) both secondary East-West routes run through Corvallis from the Oregon Coast. Corvallis is at river mile 131–32 of the Willamette River.[14]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.30 square miles (37.04 km2), of which 14.13 square miles (36.60 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water.[2]

File:Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon CSA.png
Location of the Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon CSA and its components:
  Corvallis Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Albany-Lebanon Micropolitan Statistical Area


Like the rest of the Willamette Valley, Corvallis falls within the dry-summer subtropical climate zone, also referred to as cool-summer Mediterranean (Köppen Csb). Temperatures are mild year round, with warm, dry sunny summers and mild, wet winters with persistent overcast skies. Spring and fall are also moist seasons with varied cloudiness, and light rain falling for extended periods. Winter snow is rare, but occasionally does fall, and amounts can range between a dusting and a few inches that does not persist on the ground for more than a day. The northwest hills will often experience more snow. During the mid-winter months after extended periods of rain, thick persistent fogs can form, sometimes lasting the entire day. This can severely reduce visibility to as low as 20 feet (6.1 m). The fog will often persist until a new storm system enters the area. This fog could be seen as a type of tule fog.

Rainfall total within the town itself is surprisingly variable. This is due to Corvallis lying right on the eastern edge of the Oregon Coast Range, with a small portion of the town inside of the range. Rainfall amounts can range from an average of 66.40 inches (168.7 cm) per year [15] in the far northwest hills, compared to 43.66 inches (110.9 cm) per year at Oregon State University[citation needed] which is located in the center of Corvallis. Occasionally, rain can be seen falling in the northwest of the town, whereas it is just overcast, or even slightly sunny on the southeast portion of the town. This is due to the orographic lift of the prevailing cloud systems through the pacific northwest losing moisture and dissolving back into the air as it exits the coastal range.

Because of its close proximity to the coastal range, Corvallis can experience slightly cooler temperatures, particularly in the hills, than the rest of the Willamette Valley. The average annual low temperature is 4 degrees less than that of Portland just 85 miles (137 km) to the north. Despite this, temperatures dropping far below freezing are still a rare event.

Climate data for Corvallis, Oregon (Oregon State University)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 47.0
Average low °F (°C) 33.6
Record low °F (°C) −1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.46
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.7 18.0 18.8 16.3 12.7 7.8 3.6 3.9 7.1 12.4 20.1 20.8 161.2
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) .9 1.1 .2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .1 .8 3.1
Source #1: NOAA (normals, 1971–2000),[16]
Source #2: (extremes) [17]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,128
1890 1,527 35.4%
1900 1,819 19.1%
1910 4,552 150.2%
1920 5,752 26.4%
1930 7,585 31.9%
1940 8,392 10.6%
1950 16,207 93.1%
1960 20,669 27.5%
1970 35,056 69.6%
1980 40,960 16.8%
1990 44,757 9.3%
2000 49,322 10.2%
2010 54,462 10.4%
Est. 2014 54,953 [18] 0.9%

Corvallis is the largest principal city of the Albany-Corvallis-Lebanon CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Corvallis metropolitan area (Benton County) and the Albany-Lebanon micropolitan area (Linn County),[22][23][24] which had a combined population of 202,251 at the 2010 U.S. Census.[3]

As of the 2000 U.S. Census the median income for a household in the city was $35,437, and the median income for a family was $53,208. Males had a median income of $40,770 versus $29,390 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,317. About 9.7% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.[3]

2010 census

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 54,462 people, 22,283 households, and 10,240 families residing in the city. The population density was 4004.5 people per square mile (1,547.2/km²). There were 23,423 housing units at an average density of 1,722.3 per square mile (665.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.8% White, 7.3% Asian, 1.1% Black or African American, 0.69% Native American, 0.33% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. 7.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[3]

There were 22,283 households of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.0% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.82.[3]

In the city the population was spread out with 14.9% under the age of 18, 32.4% from 18 to 24, 22.9% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26.4 years. For every 100 males there were 98.7 females.[3]


Corvallis lies in the middle of the Unchurched Belt. A 2003 study, released once every 10 years, listed Benton County (of which Corvallis makes up the majority of the population) as the least religious county per capita in the United States. Only 1 in 4 people indicated that they were affiliated with one of the 149 religious groups the study identified. The study indicated that some of the disparity, however, may be attributed to the popularity of less common religions (ones not included as an option in the study) in the Pacific Northwest.[25]


The campus of Oregon State University, which is the major local employer, is located near the edge of the main downtown area. Other major employers include Samaritan Health Services,[26] AVI BioPharma,[27] CH2M HILL,[28] SIGA Technologies,[29] Evanite Fiber,[30] ONAMI,[31] and Hewlett-Packard, whose printer cartridge manufacturing and prototyping facility is located in the northeast area of town. Because of this relative concentration of employment and the need for diversity, the city launched a website to attract creative industry to the region by branding it with the slogan "Yes Corvallis".[32] The National Clonal Germplasm Repository at Corvallis is a gene bank of the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. The gene bank preserves temperate fruit, nut, and agronomic crops from around the world.[33]

Corvallis, Oregon was ranked #48[34] on the 100 best places in the USA to live and launch a business by Fortune Small Business 2008.[35] This places Corvallis as the second best place in Oregon to launch a business, after Portland (#6). Bend (#87) and Eugene (#96) were other Oregon localities ranked in the top 100.


Helen Berg served as mayor of Corvallis for three terms from 1994 until 2006. She holds the distinction of being the first female mayor of Corvallis, as well as the longest-serving mayor of the city to date.[36] Two members of the Corvallis city council are members of the Green Party.[37] The current mayor is Biff Traber.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

File:Corvallis-Benton Public Library.jpg
Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Museums and other points of interest

Art galleries


As the home of Oregon State University, Corvallis is the home for 17 NCAA Division I OSU teams (7 men's, 10 women's) in the Pac-12. Corvallis is also the home of the Corvallis Knights baseball team, who play in summer at OSU's Goss Stadium. The Knights play in the West Coast League, an independent summer baseball league with teams from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

Parks and recreation

Corvallis is recognized as a Tree City USA. The city has at least 47 public parks within and adjacent to the city limits.[47]


The OSU campus and Cascade Range from Fitton Green

Corvallis has a higher education rate per capita than any other city in the State of Oregon.[48]

Public schools in the city are administered by the Corvallis School District. Corvallis is also the home of Oregon State University, and the Benton Center campus for Linn-Benton Community College.


Corvallis is part of the Eugene, Oregon, radio and television market.



Long-distance bus service is provided by Greyhound. It stops at the Greyhound station in downtown Corvallis (station ID: CVI.)

Local bus service is provided by Corvallis Transit System (CTS). In January 2011, the Corvallis City Council approved an additional fee on monthly water utility bills allowing all CTS bus service to become fareless.[50][51] The system runs a total of eight daytime routes Monday through Saturday, covering most of the city and converging at a Downtown Transit Center. Additional commuter routes also run in the early morning and late afternoon on weekdays, and mid-morning and mid-afternoon on Saturdays. When Oregon State University is in session CTS also runs the "Beaver Bus," a set of late-night routes running Thursday through Saturday.

Two other short-distance inter-city buses, the Linn-Benton Loop (to Albany) and the Philomath Connection, also stop at the Downtown Transit Center.

From 2010 to 2011, CTS has seen a 37.87% increase in ridership, partially as a result of going fareless and "the rising cost of fuel for individual vehicles and the desire for residents to choose more sustainable options for commuting to work, school and other activities"[52] According to Tim Bates the Corvallis Transit System and Philomath Connection, had 3,621,387 passenger miles traveled and 85,647 gallons of fuel consumed in Fiscal Year 2011, a period that covers July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011.[citation needed] This means that riders in Fiscal Year 2011 got 42.28 passenger miles per gallon.


The League of American Bicyclists gave Corvallis a gold rating as a Bicycle-Friendly Community in 2011.[53] Also, according to the United States Census Bureau's 2008–12 American Community Survey, 11.2 percent of workers in Corvallis bicycle to work. The city of Corvallis is ranked third highest among U.S. cities for bicycle commuters, behind Key West, Florida (17.4) and Davis, California (18.6).[54]


Corvallis Municipal Airport serves private and corporate aircraft. The closest commercial air service is available at Eugene Airport, 35 miles (56 km), or Portland International Airport, 95 miles (153 km).




The city's water system contains two water treatment plants, nine processed water reservoirs, one raw water reservoir, and some 210 miles (340 km) of pipe. The system can process up to about 19 million US gallons (72,000 m3) of water per day.[55]

The Rock Creek treatment plant processes water from sources in the 10,000-acre (40 km2) Rock Creek Municipal Watershed near Marys Peak. The three sources are surface streams which are all tributaries of the Marys River. Rock Creek has a processing capacity of 7 million US gallons (26,000 m3) of water per day (gpd), though operational characteristics of the 9-mile (14 km), 20-inch (51 cm) pipeline to the city limits capacity to half that.[56] The Rock Creek Plant output remains steady year round at about 3 million US gallons (11,000 m3).[55]

The H.D. Taylor treatment plant obtains water from the Willamette River, and has been expanded at least four times since it was first constructed in 1949. Its output varies seasonally according to demand, producing from 2 to 16 million US gallons (7,600 to 60,600 m3) per day,[55] though it has a capacity of 21 million US gallons (79,000 m3) per day.[56]

The total reservoir capacity is 21 million US gallons (79,000 m3),[57] though measures to voluntarily reduce water usage begin when reservoir levels fall below 90 percent of capacity, and become mandatory at 80 percent or below.[58] As part of its ongoing water conservation program, the water department jointly publishes a guide to water-efficient garden plants.[59]

Green power

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency report on its “green power communities,” Corvallis is among the top cities in the nation in terms of buying electricity produced from renewable resources. Corvallis purchases more than 126 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which amounts to 21 percent of the city’s total purchased electricity.[60][61]

Fire department

As of 2012 the Corvallis Fire Department is headed by Chief Roy Emery and currently has six fire stations.[62]

Notable people

This list excludes persons whose only connection to Corvallis is attendance or employment at Oregon State University.

Notable works of fiction

  • Corvallis plays a major role in The Postman, in which it is depicted as the center of rebuilding civilization in post-apocalyptic Oregon, due to the university, logistics, and favorable wind patterns, which render it capable of surviving nuclear war.
  • Corvallis plays a major role in S. M. Stirling's "Emberverse" series. It's one of the few cities to come through the Change with many survivors, and with some sort of governing infrastructure remaining from the old world. The town's name is used in the title of the third book, A Meeting at Corvallis.
  • Corvallis was the inspiration for "Cascadia" in the Bernard Malamud novel, A New Life.

Sister cities

Corvallis has two sister cities,[64] as designated by Sister Cities International:


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Further reading

  • Benton County Citizens' League, Benton County, Oregon, illustrated: Published under Direction of the Benton County Citizens' League. n.c.: n.p., 1904.
  • Benton County Historical Society and Museum, A Pictorial History of Benton County. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis Gazette-Times, 2000.
  • Tim Chandler, Street Politics and Bobby Packwood: A Participant's Memoir of the Corvallis, Oregon, Anti-Packwood Demonstration of January 27, 1993. Corvallis, OR: 1000 Flowers Publishing, 2003.
  • Downtown Corvallis Association, "Downtown Corvallis Association Membership Application (1979)," Corvallis, OR: Downtown Corvallis Association, 1979. —Includes short history of origins and purposes.
  • David D. Fagan, History of Benton County, Oregon: Including... a Full Political History, ...Incidents of Pioneer Life, and Biographical Sketches of Early and Prominent Citizens... Portland, OR: A.G. Walling, Printer, 1885.
  • Oregon State College, Outline History of Oregon State College. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State College, 1950.
  • David A Pinyerd, Bernadette Niederer, and Tony Vandermeer, A History of Corvallis High School. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis School District 509J, 2005.
  • Minerva Kiger Reynolds, Corvallis in 1900. Corvallis, OR: Minerva Kiger Reynolds, n.d. [1976].
  • M. Boyd Wilcox, Two to Four O'clock at The Beanery : A Journal of Observations, Analyses, Interviews, and Commentary Regarding a First-Rate "Third Place" in Downtown Corvallis, Oregon. Corvallis, OR: n.p., 2012.

External links