Mt. Angel, Oregon, population 3700, is located on Highway 214 between Woodburn to its north and Silverton to the south. It lies in the fertile Willamette Valley between the Cascade Mountains and the Coastal Range, 18 miles east of Salem and 45 miles south of Portland. Mt Angel has a rich history as a one-time railroad stop, shipping, farming, and Christian educational center.
In 1850, Benjamin Cleaver took a donation land claim of 640 acres, which included most of the present town site of Mt. Angel. In October of 1880, the railroad came through, and after building a small station house, named the site Fillmore after one of the railroad officers. German Catholic families started settling in the area around this time and in July of 1881, George Settlemier having repurchased ground from Cleaver, platted a town site near the railroad, naming it Frankfort. Cleaver repurchased the land one year later, and not liking Fillmore or Frankfort, changed the name to Roy.
A butte overlooking the city was at one time a center of worship for the Native Americans who called it Tap-a lama-ho, which means "the mount of communion". In 1881, Benedictine monks, looking for a suitable location to establish a new Benedictine home in the west, arrived from Engelberg in Switzerland. After witnessing the enthusiasm of the local families who had just competed their first church building, and the beauty of the butte, they purchased the land and in 1883 established a school for boys and the Mt Angel Abbey.
Also in the early 1880's, Benedictine Sisters from Maria Rickenback in Switzerland, moved from Gervais, a small town west of Mt. Angel, to establish a convent and a school for girls. The establishment of these two Christian schools was a major factor in the city's early growth.
In 1883, Father Adelhelm Odermatt, the founder of the boy's school on the butte and the Mt. Angel Abbey, petitioned the post office to change the name of the town from Roy to Mt. Angel, which is an anglicized form of Engelberg. Mt. Angel continued to grow, and on April 3rd, 1893, with a population of 250, the town was incorporated.
Mt. Angel was once surrounded by hop fields and dairy farms, with a creamery that produced the then famous Rose Valley cheese and butter. At one time, a flax plant processed the flax grown in the area. Today, the town is still surrounded by rich farmland growing a variety of crops, as well as vineyards, flower fields and nursery stock.