The Canemah Historic District is located at the southwesterly edge of the city limits of Oregon City, on the southerly (rocky ledged) bank of the Willamette River, just above the Falls. The community lies within a crescent-shaped hollow in the basalt cliffs that rise to the south above the river. Its name is said to derive from a Native American word "kanim" for "canoe place" and it was the existence of a graveled beach that gave rise to the town's establishment in 1845. Because of the falls, cargo, and passengers had to be portaged at this point.
This location allowed the founding of the town for the purpose of a riverboat building and trade destination during the 1850s through 1870s. Canemah is significant to the state as one of only a few remaining intact former riverboat towns. Canemah was annexed to Oregon City in 1928, although it has remained separate in many ways since. Canemah is generally bounded on the north by the Willamette River, on the east by the hillside that descends steeply to the river, and on the south by the upper bluffs. The western boundary is less confined by topography than by the original land claim. The district is comprised of several large lots and 41 blocks; 37 blocks from the original 1850 plat and 4 from the 1891 First Addition to Canemah with a total area of approximately 63.71 acres.
Please note: Most homes in the District require a review of exterior alterations. Additionally, all new construction and additions in the District require review by staff or the Historic Review Board. If you are unsure if your project will require review, please contact the Planning Division at 503-722-3789.