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A publication of the Cedar Mill Business Association
Volume 2, Issue 9
September 2004

History in the News

Burton Road

by Nancy Olson, co-author Cedar Mill History

Ted and Doris Burton's house on Burton Road in 1968

Burton Road, an approximately 1/2 mile east/west connection between NW Saltzman Road and NW 143rd, is used by hundreds of motorists daily. Accidents often occur at the west-end stop sign and flashing light as vehicles try to turn north or south onto heavily traveled NW 143rd while facing tricky exits from NW Oak Hills Drive across the street. It is a literal pain in the neck as drivers must gauge who is going where and it is often a dangerous dash requiring split second timing. Such was not always the story.

Burton Road is named for the Burton family who owned 87 acres of the original Donation Land Claim of James A. Flippin, settled around 1852. That is a fascinating story of its own and will be featured in a future issue of this newsletter. Jim Burton once recalled that the pioneer’s son, James W. Flippin, returned to Cedar Mill in 1946. He was around 90 years old when he came to look over part of the acreage that had been claimed by his father nearly a century before.

In 1916, Charles and Sarah Burton moved from their Portland home to an 87-acre tract purchased from Otto Wismer, with their sons, Hobart, Floyd and Harry. After several years of farming, they returned to Portland and rented out the property, but in 1937, Harry returned with his wife, Helen Eggers of Cedar Mill, their 2 sons, Jim and Ted, and his widowed father Charles, onto Harry ’s portion of 37 acres.

The old family farmhouse was soon remodeled and a large barn was constructed in the rear. As many as 15,000 turkeys and chickens were raised on the farm as well as a few dairy cattle. In 1948, Jim married Doris Carlson of Portland who recalls coming to Cedar Mill as a young bride and thinking she was, “at the end of the Earth.” Theirs was the only house on the dirt lane, which in the winter turned to mud. They kept boots in the car so they could get home when the car mired down. Their address at that time was “Saltzman Road” which was also still graveled, The mail and the newspapers were delivered in a box at the east end of the road.

The pond at Burton Estates, showing the first few houses in the distance

In 1952, the Burtons sold 10 acres to the Hartungs. The two families kept the road graveled, the Hartungs west to 143rd and the Burtons east to Saltzman, leaving a 40 foot gap in the middle and a “good chance of getting stuck in the mud, which happened a number of times. ”

In 1960, Jim and Doris dug a well and built a house of their own for their growing family. Prior to that they had been living in a small structure and sharing well water with Jim’s mother, Helen. Eventually, 6 more families built along the road and shared in the maintenance , spreading gravel to offset the mud and oil to keep the dust down. The County had designated it a “Private Dedicated Road” for the residents to maintain. Jim Burton was named, “The Mayor of Burton Street” and he and Doris organized road meetings and work parties with neighbors who shared in the costs.

The road had no name until 1960, when it was named Burton Street after the Burton family. Today, Burton Road is in the hands of Washington County. It services hundreds of upscale private residences along its short route. It is paved, with a 25 MPH speed limit and 5 speed bumps to slow down ever increasing numbers of hurrying commuters. Doris recalls that in the old days, instead of speed bumps, residents would shake their hoe and yell, “SLOW DOWN !!, expletive, expletive. ”