Salem's "cherry" history began in 1847 when pioneer nurseryman Henderson Lewelling left Salem, Iowa, with 700 tiny fruit tree plants intent on starting an orchard and plant nursery in the Oregon Territory. Some 350 trees survived the trip across the Oregon Trail (thanks in part to some foresighted Native Americans) and were planted on his land donation claim along the Willamette River near present-day Milwaukie. Among those surviving plants were apples, pears, and cherries, which most likely were the original stock for many of our famous orchards throughout the state.
Lewelling sold the orchard part of his business to a former worker, Joseph H. Lambert, in 1857, who went on to develop another dark cherry, the "Lambert," in 1870. Mr. Lambert would eventually own the largest cherry orchard in the world, Lambert Cherry Company, located in the Waldo Hills-MacLeay area of east Salem.