Travels with the Original Easyrider®
2016 Edition

Visit the Ghost Town of
Zena, Oregon
aka Spring Valley, Oregon
Polk County

The Spring Valley Church
The Zena Cemetery
The Spring Valley Community Center

January 10, 2016

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Zena is a former community (now considered a ghost town) approximately
10 miles northwest of Salem, Oregon, United States, in Polk County. The
community was established in 1858 was originally called "Spring Valley".
It was renamed "Zena" by Daniel Jackson Cooper and his brother Jacob Calvin
Cooper, pioneers from Missouri. In 1866 they built a store and obtained the
post office there, renaming the community in tribute to their wives (and
sisters), Arvazena Spilman Cooper and Melzena Spilman Cooper. Zena is home
to the historic Spring Valley Presbyterian Church. The 1992 novel The Road
to Zena by Joel Redon is set in Zena and nearby Lincoln.

Arvazena was born in 1846 in Cherokee County, North Carolina. She spent
many years in Missouri and married Daniel Jackson Cooper in May 1861. Two
years later, the family moved west and settled in Oregon's Willamette
Valley. She and her husband had 15 children born in Missouri, Oregon and
on the journey to Oregon. Arvazena died in 1929 and is buried in The
Dalles, Oregon.

According to Arvazena Cooper:
Grandpa [Elbert Emmerson Cooper] went over into Polk County during this
week and got a place to stop at from Bolivar Walker. Afterward he bought a
place from Nels Walling, paying for it with his outfit he crossed the
plains with. It was at a place afterwards called Zena, near a church where
Grandpa preached for several years."

Spring Valley is a valley in Polk County, Oregon, United States, situated
north and east of the Eola Hills and west of the Willamette River. It
corresponds roughly to the drainage of Spring Valley Creek. Populated
places in Spring Valley include Zena and Lincoln. Oregon Route 221 passes
along the east side of the valley, next to the Willamette River.

The area is in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA wine region and is home to several
notable vineyards, including Cristom.

John Phillips House is a historic 1853 vernacular Greek Revival house
in the Spring Valley area of Polk County, Oregon, United States. It was
built for pioneer John Phillips, who came to Oregon via the Oregon Trail
in 1845. He finished his journey to Oregon on the Meek Cutoff as part of
Stephen Meek's "lost wagon train".

John Phillips, born in 1814, was a native of Wiltshire England who came to
the U.S. in 1834 and settled in Florida. After living in New Orleans -
where he met and married Elizabeth Hibbard in 1839 - and St. Louis, he
came to Oregon and bought the Turner donation land claim in Polk County
for $100. The locale was once known as Spring Valley Ranch. John Phillips
hired carpenter Samuel Coad to build a house for him there.

Samuel Coad served during the Cayuse War in 1855, and helped construct
buildings at Fort Hoskins, including one commissioned by then-Lieutenant
Philip Sheridan, which was moved near the community of Pedee. Also known
as the Condron House, the Philip Sheridan House has been returned to the
Fort Hoskins site and is being restored. Samuel Coad married the daughter
of General Cornelius Gilliam, Henrietta, in 1853. Coad also constructed
the woolen mill at Ellendale.

As of 1980, the John Phillips House was the oldest residence in Polk County
and was still in the Phillips family. The 1 1/2-story house has horizontal
wood siding.

The house has a Salem mailing address, but the closest settlement is the
unincorporated community of Zena about a mile to the southwest. John
Phillips is buried in the Zena Cemetery at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church.

We got lucky as we often do... a local came by to check to see what we
were doing there and when it became obvious that we were harmless he asked
if we'd like to go inside the church. Duh.... the guy has lived in Zena
his entire life so he was a wealth of information about the history of the

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