Cornelius, Oregon

Cornelius, Oregon
—  City  —
Strip mall on TV Highway
Nickname(s): Oregon's Family Town
Location in Oregon
Coordinates: 45°31′7″N 123°3′19″W / 45.51861°N 123.05528°W / 45.51861; -123.05528Coordinates: 45°31′7″N 123°3′19″W / 45.51861°N 123.05528°W / 45.51861; -123.05528
Country United States
State Oregon
County Washington
Incorporated 1893
 – Type Council-manager
 – Mayor
 – Total 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)
 – Land 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)
 – Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 179 ft (54 m)
Population (2007)
 – Total 10,895
 – Density 1,585.5/sq mi (613.5/km2)
Time zone Pacific (UTC-8)
 – Summer (DST) Pacific (UTC-7)
ZIP code 97113
Area code(s) 503, 971
FIPS code 41-15550[1]
GNIS feature ID 1162918[2]

Cornelius is a city in Washington County, Oregon, United States. The population was 9,652 at the 2000 census. The 2007 estimate is 10,895 residents.[3]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2), all of it land.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 9,652 people, 2,880 households, and 2,246 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,095.9 people per square mile (1,971.8/km²). There were 3,003 housing units at an average density of 1,585.5 per square mile (613.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 37.39% White, 0.76% African American, 1.24% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 0.28% Pacific Islander, 24.32% from other races, and 3.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 68.61% of the population.

There were 2,880 households out of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.8% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.0% were non-families. 15.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.31 and the average family size was 3.64.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.5% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 108.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,959, and the median income for a family was $49,456. Males had a median income of $32,164 versus $25,207 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,290. About 10.8% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over. Cornelius is known as Oregon's family town.


In 1845, Benjamin Cornelius emigrated to Oregon with his family, travelling with Joseph Meek. The Cornelius family settled on the Tualatin Plains, near what is now North Plains. The same year, Benjamin Q. Tucker and Solomon Emerick staked land claims and established farms on the land that would eventually become Cornelius. At that time, the area was called Free Orchards; there was no actual community, but the name referred to the orchards on the 107 acres (0.43 km2) of land.

In 1871, Benjamin Cornelius's son Colonel Thomas R. Cornelius learned that Ben Holladay planned to extend the Oregon and California Railroad right through Free Orchards. Holladay had been told by Forest Grove and Hillsboro that they would not allow the railroad free right-of-way, so Holladay planned to bypass them, and build Free Orchards into a new city that would become the new county seat of Washington County.

Church in the city on South Beech Street

The new railroad was approaching Free Orchards in 1871, and Cornelius saw an opportunity to benefit from the new railroad. He left his farm and built a new house, a warehouse, and a store in Free Orchards. The warehouse and store were located right next to the railroad, and so became natural places for local farmers to trade and store their goods. Cornelius also built a creamery to process milk, and two sawmills to supply lumber for the growing community. In addition, he helped to build the first frame schoolhouse and the Methodist Church.

In 1893, Free Orchards was incorporated and renamed "Cornelius", to honor the man who spent many years helping build the community. Though Holladay's plan to make Free Orchards into the county seat never materialized, Cornelius survives today as an agricultural town and, increasingly, as a suburb of Portland.

In 2010, voters elected "Team 3", former mayor Neal Knight and councilors Mari Gottwald and Jamie Minshall, to city council in a close election. In office, they voted to fire city manager Dave Waffle and cut the city's general-services fee by 10%, without indicating where the money, needed to fund emergency services, would be replaced from. Knight was also the subject of two ethics complaints that he had violated the city charter by trying to pressure Waffle into certain personnel moves. Brad Coffey, a councilor who had lost his seat to the trio, organized a recall election that went to voters. On September 27, 2011, less than nine months after taking office, all three were recalled by wide margins in an election that attracted a higher turnout than most special elections.[4]


In 1851, the Cornelius Elementary School District 2 was founded.[5] The Cornelius district was dissolved in 1960, with the western parts of the enrollment area going to the Forest Grove district and the eastern part going to the Hillsboro districts.[6]


Cornelius is within the TriMet district, and public transit service is provided by TriMet's bus line 57-TV Highway, which operates seven days a week.[7] Line 57 connects the city with Forest Grove, to the west, and with Hillsboro and Beaverton to the east, via the Tualatin Valley Highway. It also links Cornelius with the Portland region's light rail system (MAX) in Hillsboro.

The airport serving Cornelius is Skyport Airport.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ PSU:Population Research Center
  4. ^ Fuller, Kathy (September 30, 2011). "Cornelius voters oust 'Team 3' from office". Hillsboro Argus (Hillsboro, OR). Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ Benson, Robert L. (October 19, 1976). "Historic Potpourri: Courthouse fire destroys school records in '20s". Hillsboro Argus: p. 10. 
  6. ^ "Board To Mull Land Shift". The Oregonian: p. 18. October 20, 1960. 
  7. ^ TriMet line 57 map and schedule

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