Canby Historical Society operates the Canby Depot Museum. It's location is in the century-old railroad station which Southern Pacific, it's owner since 1887, said in 1978 was the oldest remaining in Oregon. It is in view of Pacific Highway 99E and the main Portland-to-San Francisco railroads freight and the Amtrak lines.

The Oregon & California railroad was incorporated March 17, 1870 after its predecessor, Oregon Central, had completed the first 20 miles of rail line from East Portland to Parrott Creek. That spring the railroad bought land on Bakers Prairie from pioneer settlers Philander Lee and the Knight family and surveyed, mapped and named the 24-block town. Tracks soon were laid across the prairie and a bridge was built over the Molalla River to the west. The first O&C steam train whistled up the Willamette River south from Portland to Salem and through Canby September 29, 1870. The first freight train ran from Portland to Albany the following December and passenger service began early in 1871.

Named Canby, the townsite map was filed August 9, 1870, at Oregon City, seat of Clackamas County. This city is the only place in the word to be given the name of Brigadier-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby in his lifetime (1817-1873). General Canby was a friend of the O&C Railroad's chief, Ben Holladay, and a veteran of Seminole, Civil and Mexican Wars, he had arrived in Oregon the week before Canby was mapped, to serve the Pacific Northwest as the U.S. Army's Columbia Department commander. Canby is the second oldest city in Clackamas County, incorporated February 15, 1893. First settlers came in the mid-1840s to Bakers Prairie and surrounding area. In 1990 over 8,300 people lived in town and thousands more in the vicinity of Canby.

Before highways were built and the motor vehicle came into common use, Canby's railroad station was the hub of commerce. For 90 years, mail in and out of Canby and nearby post offices moved through the station. Trains were frequent, carrying merchandize for stores, supplies for farms and homes, and passengers. Shipped by rail from Canby for many years were prime agricultural products - milk, cream, eggs, grain, potatoes, prunes, turkeys, rhubarb, lumber, livestock, bulbs, flowers, nursery stock - to name a few.

The station closed August 4, 1976. In 1978, Southern Pacific offered the building to Canby's people, provided that it be relocated away from it's original site next to the heavily-used tracks. The City Council in October 1978 designated the building an historic structure, deeming it worthy of preservation as a heritage of the community.

Gaining wide support was a citizen's effort begun that fall to relocate, restore and preserve the original station and it's 1891 warehouse addition for museum purposes. More than $22,000 to "Save the Depot" was contributed by individuals, organizations, business firms, and as memorials in the five-year effort. Many individuals and suppliers gave services, materials or money to the restoration project which included a concrete foundation, new heating and plumbing systems and sewer connections. Exterior pain, new roof and gutters, and architects services for the historic building were financed by a Community Block Grant.

The museums site is a former county road right-of-way given to the City, which later deeded it to Canby Historical Society. The building was relocated August 4, 1983. Volunteers razed the 1907 warehouse addition and used its materials in restoration of the older portions. Now several blocks distant from it's original site, the station still occupies a small portion of the Philander Lee Donation Land Claim.

Two long time Canby residents, both natives and from two unrelated pioneer families, confirmed in their later years that Canbys depot had been on the scene as early as 1873. Some of the square nails in its construction, a framed linen copy of the 1870 townsite map of Canby, and one of the white cedar blocks which supported the building in it's first century are in the museum. Many mementos from bygone years given by descendants of early residents, furnished from Oregon pioneer homes and farms, and many other items also are exhibited.

The sturdy, carefully restored station began new life October 6, 1984, as Canby Depot Museum. The building is a reminder of the vision of the 1870 railroad promoters and of the railroads role in the first century of the Canby area's development. The museums contents afford a glimpse of 19th century life in this community.

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