Blaze Destroys State Hospital Farm Barns, 1931

19 03 2012

The following is an article from the Oregon Statesman published May 31, 1931.

Blaze Destroys Two State Hospital Farm Barns, Loss $40,000

Excited Inmate Dashes Into Inferno, Saved With Shirt Burned


Believed Incendiary; Cattle all Saved, Two by Force

Fire thought to be incendiary totally destroyed two large barns at the state hospital farm, four and one half miles east of here, at 9:15 o’clock last night.  The loss on the structures and the contents is estimated at $40,000.

More than 100 head of cattle had been turned out only a few hours before the flames started.  None of these were lost although two bulls, at large after keepers had loosed them, started back into the flames but were repelled by their keepers.

Man Rushes Back, Shirt Burned Off

No inmates of the hospital farm were in the barns when the flames were seen but one man, apparently deranged by the fire, started back into the blaze.  Keepers rescued him but not until his shirt was burned.  It was necessary to handcuff him to keep him away from the fire.

Attendants at the state hospital farm did not discover the flames until they had started to lick their way through the roof of the large barn.  The headway the fire had gained inclined them to the theory that some inmate had started the blaze.  A few years ago a state hospital inmate started another fire. Read the rest of this entry »

Colony Farm History

6 02 2012

The following is an article written by Amy Vandegrift, development director at the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon for the Statesman Journal appearing Sunday, February 4, 2012.  It describes the Colony Farm, a property in West Salem owned and maintained by the Oregon State Hospital.

For much of its history, the Oregon State Hospital had a farm and garden department that met almost all the needs of the institution’s patients and staff.

The operations used staff and patient labor in the running of its dairy, hog and poultry operations and the garden truck for crops and hay produce. As reported by Don Upjohn, journalist for Capital Journal, Dec. 18, 1934, “The farm and garden department produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruits. … As nearly as possible, the institution is made self-sustaining. One feature is rich garden lands in the river bottoms of Polk County.”

In addition to the hospital grounds and nearby Cottage Farm, the hospital also operated a farm in West Salem known as Colony Farm. These 403 acres of bottom land along the Willamette River were located off of Oregon Highway 22 on State Farm Road. In addition to acres of apple, cherry, walnut and filbert orchards, vegetable gardens and berry fields, the farm had a two-story barracks for hospital patients and staff, a kitchen/mess hall that included a large wood-burning stove, barn for the draft horses, shed for farm equipment, pump house, windmill and a house for the full time foreman and his family. Read the rest of this entry »

Asylum Report, 1897

15 12 2010

The following report was printed in the Salem-based  Capital Journal  newspaper April 6, 1897.  The author is particularly impressed by the productiveness of the Asylum Farms in the winter months.  Spelling is kept intact.


Files Its Monthly Report

Remarkable Facts that Prove Possibilities of Our Climate

The monthly report of Supt. Paine of the Oregon State Insane Asylum is summarized below.  It shows one insane patient for each 350 to 360 population.  But differing from practice of eastern states, Oregon does not return the incurables to the counties they come from.  The persons properly to be classed as insane are probably not over one in 500 or 600, if the custom of other states prevailed.

The report of the steward of products of the garden and dairy, and the the the showing of farming operations for January, February and March is also remarkable, and real estate agents had better sucure a certified copy from the office of the secretary of state before sending it to states where anything is frozen up all winter. Read the rest of this entry »