Banks, Government, HISTORY

Banks kicks off 100 year celebration with centennial party

The city of Banks sign on Highway 6. Photo: Brenda Schaffer

BANKS – The city of Banks is turning 100, and much has been planned in celebration for the centennial occasion.

The official kickoff party is Thursday evening on January 16 at 6:00 p.m. at Sunset Park’s Schlegal Hall.

“There will be food, entertainment, and presentations. Attendees will receive a special 100 Year Logo Item,” a news release from the city of Banks read.

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A proclamation was given at the city of Banks city council meeting on Tuesday, January 14, by Jerry Willey, Washington County Commissioner for District 4, which represents, among other locales, the city of Banks.

“Congratulations to the city of Banks, a 100 year birthday obviously doesn’t occur all that often,” Willey said as he began the proclamation. 

Willey read the proclamation into the record (full text below) and led the audience in a round of applause. 

Tonight’s centennial kickoff party is just one in a series of planned activities to mark the occasion. The city is also seeking items to place in a time capsule throughout the year. 

Suggested items include photographs of life in Banks, flyers for community events, letters from students describing life in the city, sports team photos with names of the team and team members, and more. A full list can be found at the city of Banks website here

Items can be dropped off at the Banks city hall Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In a very brief synopsis prepared for the Washington County Board of Commissioners, the early history of the incorporation of Banks was recounted.

“In 1920, Banks looked like many other small Oregon pioneer towns, with a less than impressive building stock and dirt roads, but its strong community made it a good place to live. On January 16th, 1920 the residents of Banks voted to incorporate, allowing it to use funds from taxes and licensing to renovate the town. The rest of the decade was spent modernizing the town by adding a water system, streetlights and paved roads. The City of Banks has continued to grow over the past 100 years, while also keeping our small town feel and appearance,” the synopsis read.

Early history

Banks arose, according to the Banks Historical Society, with a population of just 75 at the time of incorporation. The community had been named for John L. Banks in 1902.

The Banks Historical Society website can be found at

Prior to that, the community was named for the Wilkes family, considered the first white settlers in the area.

Before white settlers came to the area, the western Washington County region was inhabited by the Atfalati, known also as the Tualatin, tribe of the Kalapuya people. Diseases and the arrival of white settlers decimated the Atfalati’s numbers, and in 1855, the remaining Atfalati were forcibly moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation. 

The impetus for the growth of Banks in the early twentieth century was the establishment of the Pacific Railway and Navigation Company line that was to go through the Banks family farm, according to the Oregon Historical Society. 

Hearing of the railroad line, the entire town of nearby Greenville – post office, a school, businesses and homes — packed up and moved closer to what was then called Wilkes to take advantage of the potential economic boons of the new railroad line.  

Renamed Banks, the city remained small, growing from 75 when it was incorporated to 563 in the 1990 census. With the addition of the Arbor Village development on the southeast side of the city between the 1990 and 2000 census, the city experienced a massive spike in population, more than doubling in size to 1,286 in 2000. 

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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