One of the very first settlements in Oregon, Champoeg ('shampoo-e') was located on a flood plain along a bend in the Willamette River. A slim-margin vote in 1843 here established Oregon's first independent government, weakening British power in the region. The town continued to grow as the era of riverboat travel brought increasing trade to the Willamette Valley.
The good times lasted until December 1861, when an enormous flood swept through the Willamette drainage and the settlement, destroying most of it. Museums have reconstructed a few buildings from Champoeg's heyday and recount its history.