Who would have guessed that the Multnomah County Poor Farm would some day become a popular resort destination and still help feed county residents in need? One-hundred years ago the future location of CROPS Farm and McMenamins Edgefield was nothing more than a construction site and 345 acres of surrounding agricultural land in Troutdale, OR. A new poor farm was being built to replace the failing original location in Portland’s West Hills.

In November of 1911 the poor farm opened its doors, beginning a successful seven decades of food production. Peak population of the farm coincided with the Great Depression and more than 600 people worked the thriving fields at this time. The surplus of food grown fed farm residents, inmates at the county jail and patients at the hospital. By the late 1960s the farm’s population had declined significantly (due to various factors) and farming operations ceased. The compound was renamed Edgefield nursing home and continued service until 1982 when it was closed permanently. The Troutdale Historical Society rallied to prevent the defunct property from being destroyed. This gave the McMenamin brothers enough time to secure funding and purchase Edgefield in 1990. And the rest is history!

Take a look at the wonderful historic map, courtesy of McMenamins, of the Multnomah County Poor Farm in 1938. It details the variety of crops planted that year and also shows the future location of County CROPS, the former pig farm (lower left corner of map). CROPS continues the poor farm’s legacy of service in our community by donating all produce to the Oregon Food Bank. A special thanks to McMenamins for their ongoing support!

The preservation of Edgefield’s rich history has been ensured for generations, thanks to the rigorous research and documentation of Sharon Nesbit. Nesbit, a major source for this & previous posts, is a historian, reporter for the Gresham Outlook and member of the Troutdale Historical Society.

Hills, Tim and Sharon Nesbit. McMenamins Vintage Edgefield, A History of The Multnomah County Poor Farm. Portland: McMenamins, Inc, 2002.