Originally home to the Kalapuya Native Americans, one story states that Cerro Gordo is named for its resemblance to the mountain where the Battle of Cerro Gordo was fought in the war with Mexico in April of 1847. In the late 1800's Cerro Gordo Mountain was established as the Paradise Hill homestead site by the Doolittle Family. Headed by Samuel "Lucky" Doolittle they formed the Cerro Gordo Lumber Company on the site. It included a homesite as well as a certified school that resided on the property. The homestead lasted until the late 1920's.
In the 1970's a new group of folks led by Chris Canfield purchased the land. Originally the 1200 acre property was envisioned as a utopian ecovillage with a plan to house 2,000 people, a school house, train depot, marketplace, and cottage industries. Soon after the purchase, Lane County enacted zoning laws making the original vision impossible. Progress continued slowly as county regulations prohibited building homes on forested land. With dedication and perseverance Chris was able to gain approval to build a limited amount of homes at Cerro Gordo. Currently there are 13 completed homes and an opportunity for 4-5 more homes to be built.
Chris continued to work towards the community's vision until his death in 2012. Before his death he was able to obtain the approval for the Healthy Forest Reserve Program, which protects the forest and creates spotted owl habitat.
Today the community consists of 1150 acres, most of which is protected in conservation easements with the Healthy Forest Reserve Program and Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program. With the current shift to land stewardship, Cerro Gordo is once again looking for folks that share our vision and want to live here.
Although the community did not go as originally planned, many wonderful new families that were drawn to Cerro Gordo relocated in the area. Cottage Grove is a thriving rural community of over 10,000 people.
Dorenahistoricalsociety.com. (2018). Dorena Historical Society » Blog Archive » Cerro Gordo Community. [online] Available at: http://dorenahistoricalsociety.com/cerro-gordo-community/ [Accessed 9 Jul. 2018].
Williamson, Stephen. “How Cerro Gordo Mt. Got Its Name.” Stories by Steve, 2001, members.efn.org/~opal/cerrogordo.htm.