Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Agricultural Experiment Station Records, 1889-2002

Historical Note:

The Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station was established under the provisions of the federal Hatch Act of 1887, which provided grants of $15,000 to each U.S. state and territory for experimentation in the "principles and applications of agricultural science." Agricultural experimentation began at Oregon Agricultural College in 1888 under Edgar Grimm, the Station's first director, and in 1889 state legislation was approved formally establishing the Experiment Station. That year, the Station published its first bulletin and the college farm was increased from 35 acres to 155 acres. Between 1889 and 1899, the Station published 58 bulletins and circulares on a variety of topics, many in response to farmers' questions.

By 1900, the success of the Station resulted in an expansion of programs and facilities. Farmers' institutes, begun in 1888, were continued and eventually helped lead to the establishment of the Oregon Extension Service in 1911. In 1900 cooperative work was begun with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and in 1906 the first demonstration train traveled the Willamette and Valley Columbia Basin. In 1901 the first Branch Station was established at Union, in northeast Oregon, to address issues pertaining to the agriculture in that part of the state. Over the next few years, Branch Stations were established throughout Oregon, at Hermiston & Moro (1909); Harney & Talent (1911); Hood River (1912); and Astoria (1913). Subsequently, Stations were established at Pendleton (1927); Medford (1931); Squaw Butte (1935); Klamath Falls (1937); Oregon City (1939); Powell Butte & Ontario (1947); Aurora (1957); and Newport (1989). The Oregon City and Astoria Branch Stations were closed in 1964 and 1973. Several other Branch Stations have been combined to form Research & Extension Centers.

Major achievements of the Station's first 50 years included a successful way to remove spray residues from fruit; introduction of new grain varieties; new methods for storing and marketing Oregon pears; control of various livestock diseases; development of the modern maraschino cherry; and poultry breeding for egg production. Since WWII, major research efforts have focused on improved crop varieties, mechanical harvesting techniques, replacements for petrochemicals, use of rangelands, and environmental issues, such as field burning.

Edgar Grimm served as first Station Director from 1888 until 1890. From 1890 to 1907, the college president served as Director, and included Benjamin L. Arnold, 1890-1892; John M. Bloss, 1892-1896; H.B. Miller, 1896-1897; Thomas M. Gatch, 1897-1907; and William J. Kerr, 1907. James Withycombe served as Director from 1908 to 1914. From 1914 through 1965, the Dean of the School of Agriculture served as Director, including A.B. Cordley, 1914-1920; James T. Jardine, 1920- 1931; William A. Schoenfeld, 1931-1950; and F.E. Price, 1950-1965. Since 1965, Station Directors have been assistant deans in the school, and have included G. Burton Wood, 1966-1975; John R. Davis, 1975-1985; Robert E. Witters (acting), 1985-1986; Steven L. Davis (acting), 1987; and Thayne Dutson, 1987-.


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