ZENA

NAME: Zena
COUNTY: Polk
ROADS: 2WD
GRID: 1
CLIMATE: Mild
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Anytime
COMMENTS: Only 6 miles from Salem.
REMAINS: An Historic Church, Bethel Cemetary, possibly other structures
The community was established in 1858 with the original name of "Spring Valley," six miles northwest of Salem. The following year, a church was erected by volunteer labor. The lumber for the church was transported by boat on the Willamette River to nearby river town of Lincoln. The church bell also came by boat, imported all the way from England and shipped around the tip of South America via Cape Horn.

In 1866, Daniel Jackson Cooper and his brother built a store in Spring Valley, and acquired the post office. They renamed the town "Zena," in honor of their wives, Melzena and Arvazena.

A sketch of the town, drawn by a Zena historian in 1961, depicts several structures: the church and it's cometary, the parsonage, blacksmith's shop, horse shed, store, the post office, a cabin, a cottage, the grist mill and the grange hall. A photo of a report card from 1892 testifies to the existence of a Zena school at one time.

It is unknown which structures and how many original houses still stand, however, the church is reportedly still holding services on Sunday, and is sometimes the site of weddings. It is known as Spring Valley Presbyterian church or Zena Church, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. According to wikipedia.org, the cemetery adjacent to the church is called "Bethel Cemetery," and local residents continue to bury their dead there. (This is interesting, as there is a nearby ghost town called Bethel.) The pioneer cemetery is said to contain approximately 100 headstones.

The article also mentions that the town is reputed to be the site of paranormal activity, drawing the attention of ghost hunting enthusiasts. It is said that visitors sometimes catch a glimpse of a silhouetted man, riding a bicycle, who then disappears. Submitted by: Kathryn Davidson


Zena Church in 1960, Salem Public Library Ben Maxwell Collection


Zena, as described by Ralph Scott, Courtesty of the Salem Public Library


An 1895 map of Oregon shows Zena ( highlighted in green)


Zena Church and Cemetery, courtesy of the Oregon State Library


A school report card from 1892, Salem Public Library


Interior of Zena Church, Salem Public Library Ben Maxwell Collection


Italianate home on Spring Valley Rd, 1965, Ben Maxwell Collection, Courtesy of Salem Public Library.  Status unknown.

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