West Linn is a city in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States. Now a southern suburb within the Portland metropolitan area, West Linn has a history of early development, prompted by the opportunity to harvest energy from nearby Willamette Falls. It was named after U.S. Senator Lewis F. Linn of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, who had advocated the American occupation of Oregon as a counterclaim to the British. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 25,109.
Prior to settlement by Oregon pioneers, the area which became known as West Linn was the home of ancestors of some of the present-day Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.
Major Robert Moore was an early settler arriving in 1839—before the Champoeg Meetings—having been the senior member of the first attempt to create an American state in Oregon, the Peoria Party. Sometime after journeying around the Willamette Valley and Columbia Basin, Moore bought title to approx. on the west side of Willamette Falls, across the Willamette River from Oregon City, from a local Native American chief, on which he platted a town he called "Robin's Nest" in early 1843. He also filed a provisional claim with the then government of the Oregon Country, not knowing if his transaction would be honored by the eventual governing laws. The Oregon Territorial Legislature voted to rename it Linn City on December 22, 1845 as a memorial to Senator Lewis F. Linn after whom Linn County is also named. Linn was a neighbor and family friend of the Moores from their time as settlers in the early Missouri Territory.
For many years Linn City was a political and commercial rival to the adjacent town of Oregon City, but it suffered a series of natural and man-made setbacks. A major fire and the Great Flood of 1862 put a halt to the pioneer settlement in 1861, dispersing many of the surviving family members throughout the Pacific Northwest.
West Linn was incorporated in 1913 and merged with the adjacent town of Willamette in 1916, which had incorporated five years earlier. When the City of West Linn incorporated in 1913, it encompassed West Oregon City, Bolton, Sunset and Willamette Heights. The incorporation allowed the settlements to obtain needed services, utilities, and improvements without annexing to Oregon City. After considerable debate on a name, the city founders decided to honor the pioneer town that Moore had established. The city's population historically grew steadily, but in recent years has leveled off. The 1860 census listed 225 residents. By 1920, the number had grown to 1,628. The 1960 census set the population at 2,923, and by 1970, West Linn had grown to more than 7,000. The city’s population has continued to grow each year. Currently, the city’s population is 25,250.
In 2011, the City of West Linn was the Top-Ranked Oregon City on the CNN/Money Magazine 'Best Places to Live 2011' List. Citing 'breathtaking views of the Cascades and relatively low local taxes,' the Number 69 listing includes a photo of Central Village, and also mentions the Music in the Park concert series, the historic Willamette area, the farmer's market, and the Street Dance. The City of Sherwood is the only other Oregon city to make the 2011 listing, coming in at Number 100. In 2009, the City of West Linn was included on the 'Best Places to Live 2009' list. Oregonians move to the hilltop homes here for a scenic view of the Cascades and relatively low local taxes. With Portland just 25 minutes away, most residents commute into the city during the week. Weekends are spent enjoying waterfront recreation: West Linn sits at the junction of two rivers. On summer evenings, residents enjoy picnic dinners over concerts in the park. Locals also flock to a revitalized downtown area, Historic Willamette, which offers a farmer’s market and, occasionally, dancing in the street.
In 2012, the City of West Linn was named Tree City USA Community by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to urban forestry. It is the 19th year West Linn has earned this national honor from the Arbor Day Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees. “We all benefit when communities like West Linn place a high priority on planting and caring for trees, one of our nation’s most beautiful resources,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees shade our homes and add beauty to our neighborhoods, and they also provide many environmental, economic and social benefits. We applaud West Linn’s elected officials, volunteers and citizens for providing vital care for its urban forest.”