From the hillside, you can see the Luckiamute River flowing east in the valley below. The Luckiamute Band of Kalapuya Indians once... more » maintained a village on the valley floor. They were one of the many linguistically and culturally related bands of people collectively known as the Kalapuya who occupied the Willamette Valley.
The Kalapuya intensively managed the landscape, setting fires that encouraged growth of food plants (camas, tarweed, white oak) and plants used for baskets, mats, and various tools (hazel, rushes, bear grass). Burning also
provided better forage for game animals, better hunting areas, travel routes and the lower fuel loads guarded against catastrophic wild fires.
A party of 25 people led by Nahum King settled in Kings Valley in 1846 after crossing the Oregon Trail. Here the settlers found open prairies and oak groves the Kalapuya had managed for thousands of years. The homesteaders
took full advantage of this lush oak-savanna habitat, quickly converting the flood plain and foothill prairies to crop production and pasturage, while taking fuel, lumber, and wild game from the timbered uplands.
“The water is all soft as it is in Massachusetts. Soda springs are common and fresh water springs without number. . . There are thousands of. . . berries. It is an easy place to make a living. You can raise as many cattle as you please and not cost you a cent, for the grass is green the whole winter. . . .” — Anna Maria King, 1846
The U.S. Army established Fort Hoskins in 1856 atop the bench below to monitor traffic entering and leaving the newly established Coast (Siletz)Indian Reservation to the west. Located at the crossroads of two major trails,
the fort quickly became a regional center of economic and political activity.
When the Civil War ended, Samuel and Mary Frantz purchased the decommissioned fort property, built the house that still stands on the east side of the park, and replaced the barracks with barns, a blacksmith shop, and other farm
A long-term oak savanna restoration project dominates the hillside above the overlook. By removing young Douglas fir
trees, reintroducing native plants, and using periodic fire management, Benton County is reestablishing the habitat familiar to the Kalapuya, the soldiers at
Fort Hoskins, and the early Kings Valley pioneers.