Johnson Creek (Willamette River)

A shallow stream, perhaps 10 feet (3 meters) wide, flows over rocks through a wooded area.Johnson Creek is a 25-mile (40 km) tributary of the Willamette River in the Portland metropolitan area of the U.S. state of Oregon. Part of the drainage basin of the Columbia River, its watershed covers 54 square miles (140 km2) of mostly urban land occupied by about 180,000 people. The creek flows generally west from the foothills of the Cascade Range through sediments deposited by glacial floods on a substrate of basalt. Though polluted, it provides habitat for salmon and other migrating fish along its free-flowing main stem. Prior to European settlement, the heavily forested watershed was used by Native Americans of the Chinook band for fishing and hunting. In the 19th century, white settlers cleared much of the land for farming. The stream is named for William Johnson, a settler who in 1846 built a water-powered sawmill along the creek. By the early 20th century, a rail line parallel to the stream encouraged further residential and commercial development. Damage from seasonal flooding grew as urban density increased in the floodplain.

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