Silverton is a city in Marion County, Oregon, United States. The city is situated along the 45th parallel about 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Salem, in the eastern margins of the broad alluvial plain of the Willamette Valley. The city is named after Silver Creek, which flows through the town from Silver Falls into the Pudding River, and thence into the Willamette River. Silverton was originally called Milford, then Silver Creek; on July 16, 1855, Silver Creek became Silverton. Human habitation of the Silverton area extends back approximately 6,000 years before the present. In historical times, the region was dominated by the Kalapuya and Molala peoples, whose seasonal burns of the area made it plow-ready and attractive to early 19th century Euro-American settlers. Farming was Silverton’s first major industry, and has been a dominant land-use activity in and around Silverton since the mid-19th century.
Silverton is situated on the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley, a fertile and alluvial plain which stretches from the western foothills of the Cascade Range on the east, known as the Waldo Hills, to the eastern foothills of the Oregon Coast Range on the west. Silverton lies on either side of Silver Creek, a tributary of the Pudding River, which joins the Molalla River before emptying into the northward-flowing Willamette River. Abiqua Creek also empties into the Pudding River; it flows across the eastern valley north of Silverton, further draining the land around the city.
Silverton’s elevation is between 200 and 250 feet (61 and 76 m) above mean sea level with the steep-sided, heavily-wooded Waldo Hills to the south rising an additional 200 feet (61 m). The agricultural richness of the environs is due to massive and repeated floods from prehistoric Lake Missoula in western Montana. Beginning approximately 13,000 years before the present, repeated flooding from Lake Missoula scoured eastern Washington and Oregon, carved out the Columbia River Gorge, and periodically swept down the Columbia River; when floodwaters met ice jams in southwest Washington, the backed-up water spilled over and filled the entire Willamette Valley to a depth of 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) above current sea level, creating a body of water known as Lake Allison. The gradual receding of Lake Allison’s waters left layered sedimentary volcanic and glacial soils to a height of about 180 to 200 feet (55 to 61 m) above current sea level throughout the Tualatin, Yamhill and Willamette Valleys.
Until the mid-19th century, the Silverton area was a broad, open grassland with small stands of Oregon white oak, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. Stands of Oregon white oak, red alder, big leaf maple, and black cottonwood lined streams and river banks. While these tree species are extant today, widespread farming in the Willamette Valley between 1850 and 1870 altered the land through the discontinuation of widespread seasonal burning in the valley plains previously employed by the Kalapuya people. Large stands of Douglas fir and western red cedar, mixed with Oregon white oak, remain in the Silverton area, especially on eastern ridge tops and on the slopes of the Waldo Hills to the south. Due to decades of intensive timber extraction, mature second- and third-growth trees comprise existing evergreen stands.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.47 square miles (8.99 km), of which 3.43 square miles (8.88 km) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 9,222 people, 3,452 households, and 2,442 families residing in Silverton. The population density was 2,691.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,039.3/km). There were 3,477 housing units, 18.1% of which were housing units in multi-unit structures. The homeownership rate was 64.3% and the median value of owner-occupied housing units was $229,700. The racial makeup of the city was 84.1% White, 12.7% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.7% from other races, 1.0% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 0.2% African American, and 0.1% Pacific Islander.
Of the 3,452 households in Silverton, 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them. 54% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 29.3% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 25.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.15.
The median age in Silverton was 35.8 years. 28.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 17.2% were 62 years of age or older. Silverton’s gender makeup was 47.6% male and 52.4% female. 91.7% were high school graduates, and 29.1% held bachelor’s or higher degrees. The median household income was $51,687. 16.1% of the population lived at or below the poverty level.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,414 people, 3,452 households, and
2,442 families residing in Silverton. There were 2,865 housing units, and the population density was 2,716.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,048.8/km). Silverton’s homeownership rate was 60.7%, while 39.9% of occupied housing units were rented. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $148,800. The racial makeup of Silverton was 89.4% White, 11.6% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.09% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.21% African American, and 8.83% other races.
The median age in Silverton was 33 (31 for males and 35 for females). 37.7% were under the age of 18, 13.4% were 65 years of age or older, 47% were male and 53% female. Of the population 25 years of age and older, 7.1% possessed a graduate or professional degree, 15.3% held a bachelor’s degree, 5.2% held an associate degree, 28% had some college education but no degree, while an additional 28.8% had graduated from high school or its equivalent but had not received any college education. 15.6% failed to complete high school.
The median salary for a male was $34,707 while the median for a female was $24,479. Major employers in Silverton in 2000 included the Silver Falls School District (400+ employees), Silverton Hospital (402), Champion Homes (200+), Brucepac (100+), and Mallorie’s Dairy (90). The median household income was $38,429. 11.7% of Silverton households earned less than $10,000 per year, while 2.5% earned $150,000 or more. About 10.4% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.