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Vernonia: A great place to Live, Work and Play

Rich in history, bountiful forested hillsides, and a thriving small town culture, the town of Vernonia offers both visitor and new residents a warm welcome. Travel through the trees, over the streams and under the railroad trestles and you’ll find a small, tight knit community that is ready to be discovered.

            Vernonia is a small town of just over 2,000 people, nestled in the Upper Nehalem Valley in the foothills of the Pacific Coast Range. It sits at the confluence of the Nehalem River and Rock Creek and is surrounded by forests. Less than an hour from from SW Portland and Hillsboro employment centers, Vernonia is also just 60 minutes away from the Oregon Coast.

            Known for it’s logging history, Vernonia is remaking itself as a outdoor recreation destination as well as a great place for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle and relocate to the peace and quiet of the country.

            We invite you stop by for a visit. Come see why Vernonia is such a great place to live, work and play.

Live – With a charmingly old-fashioned downtown and a brand new school, life in Vernonia is a mix of old and new.

            The new Vernonia K-12 school offers a green design, two gymnasiums, new computer labs and a natural resources curriculum that connects to an eight acre wetland just across the road. The high school robotics class has earned awards at several competitions!

            The walkable downtown core offers shopping, a full service post office, grocery store and two hardware stores. The town has eight restaurants; seven are in the downtown area.

The Vernonia Pioneer Museum is a collection of artifacts from throughout the county including items from the local Native American tribes, early settlers and logging.

            The community library offers after school and summer reading programs for children. A chess and stamp club meet there regularly as well. The Vernonia Library is also a favorite stop for Oregon Humanities special programs.

            A brand new Health Center has broken ground and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014; a new Senior Center and Food Bank is also in the planning stages at the same development.

Vernonia has a very active Lion’s Club, a PTA and a Booster’s Club that supports children’s activities. There are eleven active churches in town.

Work – Known for the huge trees that once grew in the area, Vernonia’s nearby forests still support both large and small natural resource-based businesses. But today you are just as likely to bump into a computer programmer or high tech fabrication plant employee when stopping to fill your tank and grab your morning coffee at the Mini Mart.

            Vernonia is the ultimate small-town bedroom community for the high tech industry. Intel employees who have moved to town get the best of both worlds – high tech opportunity a short drive from a quiet, safe and friendly small town to raise their families.

            Local business is another key element in the employment market in Vernonia. Full time, part-time and seasonal jobs are available; some of the larger local employers include the Vernonia School District, Sentry Market, Photo Solutions and Cedar Ridge Conference and Retreat Center.

            Numerous home-based businesses have become successful; those with an entrepreneurial streak may find an opportunity in Vernonia. Work-from-home is also an option for some  as high speed cable internet service is available in town.


Play – Vernonia is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with multiple parks, trails, streams, rivers and logging roads to explore.

            We are proud of our city Park system which includes full hook-up RV camping at Anderson Park and primitive camping at Airport Park. Both parks are set along the Nehalem River and offer river access. During summer months, we also enjoy an old-fashioned swimming hole at Hawkins Park.

The 42 acre Vernonia Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout by ODFW and anglers can also catch largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and brown bullhead – there may even be a steelhead or two! The lake features a paved trail, a wheelchair accessible fishing platform, restrooms, drinking water, and on-site bait shop/concession stand during the spring and summer months.

            Vernonia, once the terminus of several logging railroad lines, is now the terminus of two great area recreation trails. The Banks-Vernonia Trail is 21 miles of paved multi-use trail that is now included as part of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. The trail is accessible from six trailheads. The Crown Zellerbach Trail travels from Vernonia to Scappoose and offers over 20 miles of multi-surfaced trail more suitable for fat tire bikes, hikers and horseback riders.

            Hunting and river fishing are two other popular pastimes that beckon Vernonians into the nearby hills. The Nehalem River, which runs 90 miles to the Oregon Coast, is a premier spot for wild native salmon, steelhead and cut throat trout.

            The Vernonia Golf Club offers a nine hole course and year-round alpine golfing.


Other Nearby Attractions:

            The Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area is a 1114 acre refuge for Roosevelt Elk. Open pastures border the highway, offering excellent

views of elk during winter and spring. There are two paved parking areas, four viewing areas.

  1. L. Stub Stewart State Park is just 10 miles south of Vernonia and offers camping, and day use areas for hiking, biking and equestrian riders. 25 miles of trails, RV and primitive camping, 18-hole disc golf course, mountain bike riding area, cabin village, and equestrian camp make

this a family-friendly and fun vacation spot.

            The Oregon Coast is just an hour away from Vernonia with easy access to Cannon Beach, Seaside and Manzanita. Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro offer shopping, entertainment and sporting events ranging from Single A baseball to MLS soccer to NBA basketball.


Whether your interest is finding a new home, a new place to open a business, or just a new spot for a favorite hobby, Vernonia offers all that in one charming package. Give it a try, and be amazed at what you find. Come visit Vernonia, and stay a while.


Vernonia Becomes a Biking Destination

The town of Vernonia is attracting visitors because it finds itself at the epicenter of two regional trails.

The newly established Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway (which includes the decades old Banks-Vernonia State Trail) and the Crown Zellerbach (CZ) Trail are bringing visitors, especially visitors on bicycles, in droves during the spring, summer and fall. These trails are making a Vernonia a popular destination that is just being discovered.

In 2013 the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission formally approved the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway as the tenth designated bikeway in the state. The bikeway features the best of the northern Willamette Valley, from friendly downtowns to fertile farmlands and lush natural areas. Set in the heart of Washington County and traveling into Columbia County, the Bikeway runs for 30 miles one way, and connects with, and includes, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, traveling another 21 miles from Banks to Vernonia.

The trail provides views of the Coast Range, farms, vineyards, and natural areas near quaint downtowns. The primary natural feature is the Tualatin River and the surrounding river basin, which is dotted with wetlands and forest stands. Farm produce stands, farmers’ markets and a winery along the route offer a wonderful seasonal mix of activities.

The connection to the Banks-Vernonia Trail provides riders with a is a multi-use trail paved over an old railroad grade. The trail is suitable for walkers, joggers, bikers or mounted equestrian riders. The trail allows riders to get off the roadway and enjoy a 21 mile tree-lined, easy-grade pathway. The trail has 13 old bridges crossing swift streams and wooden trestles rise up from the past.

The Banks-Vernonia Trail can be accessed at any of 6 points along its progression – including trailheads at Manning, Buxton, Tophill, and Beaver Creek, as well as at Banks and Vernonia themselves – and permits only non-motorized use at a safe, slow speed.

With trailheads in Vernonia and Hillsboro, the Tualatin Valley Bikeway begins on mostly rural roads with terrain ranging from plains to rolling hills, with the middle portion of the state trail featuring a climb of about 600 feet. The Scenic Bikeway is rated as a moderately challenging ride and can be enjoyed by a wide range of cyclists.

With the route’s layout, cyclists have many overnight options for multi-day rides, while day trips covering sub-sections of the route are easy, too. L.L. Stub Stewart State Park is adjacent to the State Trail and offers camping, as does Vernonia’s Anderson and Airport Parks. Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Banks and Vernonia offer lodging, dining and other services. The route’s northern and southern hubs are public parks, each with parking, restrooms and drinking water. Several other parks on the route offer picnic shelters and restrooms. Transit connections are available in Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Banks and Vernonia.

Paved trails in and around Vernonia give families a chance to ride together as well. The connection from the Banks-Vernonia Trail to Webb Way at Anderson Park takes riders to Vernonia Lake and is a flat and easy ride for even the youngest cyclists.

The Crown Zellerbach Trail is a different ride altogether and is Columbia County’s newest jewel.

Spanning the twenty miles from the outskirts of Vernonia to Chapman’s Landing on the Columbia River in Scappoose, the trail is accessible to all non-motorized traffic, including bikes, horses and hikers and is maintained by Columbia County. The trail is mostly hard pack, with some areas of gravel, and follows logging roads and abandoned rail lines. It is accessible at several locations along Scappoose-Vernonia Hwy.

The CZ Trail gives users a new opportunity to experience the beauty and history of Columbia County. The rougher style of the trail makes it attractive for mountain bikes and bikes with wider profiled tires as well as equestrian trail riders and provides a great alternative to the paved Banks-Vernonia Trail.

Speaking of mountain bikes, Stub Stewart State Park, just 10 miles south of Vernonia, has a new Free Ride Skills Area that is open to the public. A session/training area includes options for beginner to advanced Free Ride mountain bikers. Initial construction has focused on beginner and intermediate level trails but construction in the area is ongoing.

Following IMBA guidelines for trail layout, the Free Ride Area is geographically “remote” to create a natural barrier of access to inexperienced riders.

All trails within Stub Stewart Park are open to mountain bike riders. There’s more than 15+ miles of natural surface, shared-use trails and several miles of mountain biking specific trails.

As you can see, it’s no wonder Vernonia is becoming a destination for bicycle riders of all types.

Vernonia Celebrates Opening of New School

“I cannot tell you how proud I am to be an Oregonian because of this community. You are what Oregon is all about.”

                ~ Former Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski


                It was a day for happiness. It was a day for smiles. It was a day for a few tears of joy. But most of all it was a day for celebration.

            On August 21, 2012 the new Vernonia School was officially dedicated and opened.   The events included speeches and tours of the new facility and also took time to thank all those who have had a hand in making this dream a reality. The day was filled with visiting dignitaries from government, business and philanthropy, including several US and Oregon Senators and Representatives and a former Oregon Governor.


            “It’s a great day to be a Logger and a great day to be in Vernonia!”

               ~ US Senator, Ron Wyden


            The day of celebration began at 9:00 AM with a short presentation inside the building. This was followed by the official Grand Opening Celebration at 10:00 AM in front of the new building with speeches by former Governor Ted Kulongoski, US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, US Representative Suzanne Bonamici, County Commissioner Tony Hyde and more. The biggest round of applause was reserved for State Senator Betsy Johnson, who has championed this project from the very beginning.


            “In 2007 when Vernonia was in ruins, some people said, ‘Who cares! Give it up! Move to town! Send the kids to Hillsboro or Scappoose or Forest Grove! Rebuild someplace else!’ And you Vernonia didn’t! We fought back, and here it is—your new schools!”

                ~ Oregon State Senator, Betsy Johnson


            The opening of the new school facility was a tribute to the many sectors that worked together to accomplish this goal, including the creation of an Oregon Solutions team by then Governor Kulongoski. The infusion of local, state and federal funding played played a significant role. Fundraising efforts, both big and small kept the campaign to replace Vernonia’s schools moving along, including donations from philanthropic organizations, private business and efforts by local students and citizens.


            Today V is for Vernonia. Today V is for vitality. Today V is for a valediction to churning flood waters claiming your schools, your homes and your businesses. Today V is for victory and for Vernonia.

                ~ President and CEO of The Ford Family Foundation, Norm Smith


            The facility is beautiful both inside and out. The wood siding, local materials and the upright cedar logs that tower over the main lobby and the wood benches both inside and out are a testament to the history of the community. The computer labs, natural lighting and energy efficiency and sustainability features speak to the modern design that has been incorporated into the construction. The new natural resources curriculum that will use the building as a working laboratory is a look towards the future.   The facility will house grades K-12 in an innovative approach to cost savings and a new educational model. It is designed with the capacity to expand and hold up to 1000 students.


            “This school is model of sustainability but the people of Vernonia are a model of what can happen when we work together. You should all be very proud – you’re an inspiration.”

                ~ US Representative, Suzanne Bonamici


            The school building was designed to achieve LEED certification and to be a model which incorporates human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality into its design and uses. The facility includes natural lighting and ventilation and is orientated on the site to maximize use of solar energy and day lighting.   A biomass boiler will provide heating and cooling through a radiant in-floor system.   The site includes bio swales to treat storm water; a community garden, a greenhouse and a nursery. Off site is a wetland education center.


            “Vernonia is on the national map as a leader in natural resources education.”

                ~ US Senator, Jeff Merkely


                Some people thought the day would never arrive. But arrive it did, and there were smiles all around. Especially from the children and students who now have lockers and hallways and a new school they can be proud of. School Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox made sure the teachers and students were the first to enter the new building following the dedication ceremony, because first and foremost, this building will be for them.


                “Kids bring us to this place of faith where we step out sometimes not knowing what might happen. We dare to dream big again in spite of adversity. We actually say to ourselves that which we hope our children will say when they are not around us which is, ‘One door may close, but another opens.’

                These children in front of us, children who are going to come to this school and children all around this state, are asking us, and you have demonstrated the ability, to step out on faith and say, ‘We will actually build, not just this, but we’ll build a whole new world around it.’

                I want to tell you, that’s inspiring. It’s absolutely awe inspiring. From somebody who has been in big cities, all across this country, from somebody who has been across the back woods of a lot of places both here and in Washington, I can tell you I have seen inspiring and I have not seen it any more beautiful, any more finely textured, any more human than what I have seen right here in Vernonia.”

                ~ Chief Education Officer, State of Oregon, Rudy Crew