What would Eugene Skinner think of namesake town today? 'He’d probably be intimidated'
EUGENE, Ore. - The intersection of Mill Street and 8th Avenue in downtown Eugene isn’t just a corner.
It’s a cornerstone of the city’s history.
And on Thursday, it got its plaque back.
The plaque had been removed during the construction of Whole Foods nearby, and city officials restored it at a ceremony Thursday.
In Eugene, 8th and Mill goes all the way back to the beginnings of the city once known as Skinner's Mudhole.
It marks the southeast corner of the original 640-acre lot claimed by Eugene Skinner in 1855.
That original lot runs along 8th Avenue between Mill and Tyler north to the river.
The Skinners claimed the land under the federal Donation Land Claim Act, which “allowed a married couple to have up to 640 acres if they improved the land and placed a residence on the property,” says City of Eugene surveyor Tim Fassbender. “Then they’d file a claim and ask the government to give them 640 acres.”
The plaque was set in place by a descendant of the Skinners, named Ken Darling.
Darling, born and raised in Portland, is the great-great-grandson of Eugene Skinner.
“I’m the fifth generation,” he says.
He says his ancestors wouldn’t recognize the city in 2016.
“He’d probably be intimidated,” he says. “Him and Mary, if they dropped in someday: ‘Where’s our house? What are all these things?’”
Folks at the City and County might like to have a word with him about the original deed, too.
Fassbender says the boundary at 8th and Mill is the foundation for the development of the entire downtown area.
But this spot is only one of two where the exact location is known. The rest have been lost to history, or the markers were damaged over the years.