The huge seasonal runs of salmon and steelhead at the confluence of the Sandy and
Bull Run Rivers provided an ideal setting for local bands of Chinook Indians. These Native Americans were the only
humans to pass through the area of Camp Namanu until about 1850.
The Sandy River was discovered by Lieutenant W. R. Broughton, of Captain George Vancouverís expedition, while
sailing up the Columbia River on October 30, 1792. He gave it the name Barings River, named for a great English
family of bankers. In 1805, Lewis and Clark passed the mouth of the river and gave it the name Quicksand River,
because of the immense quantity of sand flowing out of its mouth. By 1850, the name had been shortened by the
locals to Sandy River.
The Bull Run River, originally called the North Fork of the Sandy River, took its unique name from stories of
cattle that were lost about 1850 while being driven from The Dalles to Oregon City. By the late 1870s, the name
Bull Run had been well established.
Walker Creek, which flows through the northerly half of camp, was named for an early trapper in the vicinity, probably
during the 1860s.
The original government survey of the camp area was performed by John A. Hurlburt and was commenced on October 1,
1873. The field notes and map from this survey show "Walkers Trail" running from the east bank of the Sandy River
and following closely the north ridge line above Walker Creek for about six miles in a northeasterly direction to
Walkerís Prairie and Walker Peak. It is believed that this general route was infrequently used as an alternative
to the Barlow and Lolo Pass Roads for people wanting to travel from The Dalles to Oregon City. Now that the land
had been surveyed, the United States government stood ready, under the Homestead Act of 1862, to give away 160
acres of land to any persons who made improvements upon and proper claim to the land.
In January 1897, George B. M. Pulley claimed 160 acres in the vicinity of Ranch. A month later, Adolf Sester
claimed the land on the west side of the Sandy River, which is now owned by Camp Fire.
Then on November 14, 1900, John R. Taylor received his patent to 160 acres, which was signed by President William
McKinley. His claim included all the lands in the main camp area and ran as far east as Twin Peaks and to a point
that is about 1000' north of Walker Creek.
Apparently the original farmhouse and other outbuildings were constructed by the Taylor family. Along with his
wife Alice, there were eleven children, ages two to sixteen, living near the meadow in 1900. An orchard of cherry
and apple trees was planted at this time. Between 1897 and 1910 much of Namanuís present land was logged and a
mill was built along Walker Creek approximately 800' downstream from where the North and South Fork of Walker
In April 1909, John and Alice Taylor sold their land to Samuel Cobb who was quietly purchasing several parcels in
the area for possible use as a hydroelectric dam site. Because of engineering constraints, the hydroelectric
project never succeeded. Due to the fact that most of the marketable timber had already been removed from the
land, Sam Cobb and his partners of the Nottingham Investment Company let the land sit idle from 1909 until 1924
when they were approached by W. S. Raker and Eathel Moore.
For the first several years the original 161.9 acres were loaned to Camp Fire, but eventually Sam Cobb and the
Nottingham partners deeded over the land.
In 1932, it was discovered that the campís water source actually was located on land owned by the City of
Portland. To clear this up, 14.6 acres were dedicated to camp. In 1940, two more parcels totaling 151 acres were
added to begin the Ranch program. This brought Namanuís total area to 327.5 acres by the end of 1940. In 1957, 28
acres were purchased on the west side of the Sandy River and 26 acres in the vicinity of Haunted House. The next
year two more parcels were obtained; 40 acres along the North Fork of Walker Creek and 54 acres at the far east
end of camp. By the end of 1958 camp had grown to 475.5 acres.
Full-unabridged text of this chapter is available in the 75th Anniversary Book which is for sale at the
Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council's office in Portland.
©1998 Reprinting only with written permission of Camp Fire USA Portland Metro Council.