The Cox Cemetery is on a one-acre clearing nestled on the timbered south slope of Ankeny Hill and just above the vine rows of Ankeny Vineyard. It was founded by Thomas Cox (1790-1862), Salem’s first storekeeper. The northeast corner of Commercial and Ferry Streets bears a plaque that marks the location of the old store. In 1847, Tom and his wife Martha brought overland eleven wagonloads of gunpowder, shot and store supplies from Ohio. After his wife’s death in 1849, he retired to the farm that was here at Ankeny Vineyard’s current location. He experimented with growing new varieties of fruit trees and developed a variety of peach tree known as Cox’s Golden Cling. Today, the historic Cox Cemetery has 85 marked graves and 12 unmarked. Burials at Cox Cemetery are restricted to descendents of pioneer families buried there or to people living in the district. Tom and Martha Cox are now resting in eternal peace in the cemetery they created almost 150 years ago. When visiting Ankeny Vineyard, please feel free to pay your respects to those pioneers that sacrificed so much to start a new life here in Oregon.
For further information about the Cox Cemetery, see http://www.oregonpioneers.com/marion/CoxCem.htm
Ankeny Natural Wildlife Refuge
The Willamette Valley was once a rich mix of wildlife habitats. Valley wetlands were once extensive, with meandering stream channels and vast seasonal marshes. Today, the valley is a mix of farmland and growing cities, with fewer areas remaining for wildlife.
Ankeny NWR was created to provide a vital wintering habitat for over 100,000 Dusky Canada geese. Unlike other Canada geese, Duskies have limited summer and winter ranges. They nest on Alaska’s Copper River Delta and winter almost exclusively in the Willamette Valley. Habitat loss, predation, and hunting have caused a decrease in population. Ankeny NWR contains about 2,800 acres of flat to gently rolling land near the confluence of the Willamette and Santiam rivers. The refuge’s fertile farmed fields, hedgerows, forests, and wetlands provide a variety of wildlife habitats.
Ducks, geese, and swans are commonly seen in refuge fields and ponds through the fall and winter. Ankeny residents, like the northern saw-whet owl, attract area bird watchers. The refuge is open to limited opportunities for wildlife-oriented education and recreation.
The Willamette Valley refuges incorporate an intensive cooperative farming program in order to provide high protein browse (annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass and fescue) for seven subspecies of wintering Canada geese, with primary emphasis on the Dusky subspecies. Under cooperative agreements, area farmers plant refuge fields. Some fields are planted annually and others are mowed or burned to produce the tender, nutritious grasses preferred by geese.
The geese also need water for resting and foraging habitat. Many refuge wetlands occur naturally; others are created by dikes and levees. In some low-lying areas of the refuge, wetlands that were drained or channelized by previous owners have been restored to increase diversity and desirability of habitat for wildlife. The majority of wetlands are being managed as moist soil units, to promote growth of wetland food plants (millet, smartweed, sedges, etc.) used as food by waterfowl and other wildlife.
By resting in undisturbed areas on the refuges, wintering geese regain energy reserves required for migration and nesting. This sanctuary also reduces depredation problems on neighboring private lands by encouraging waterfowl to use refuge resources. Because of their need for a quiet resting area, waterfowl habitat is closed to public entry while the geese are in residence in order to minimize human disturbance. Recently, the refuge has increased efforts to restore and expand riparian forest and wet prairie habitats.
For more info about the refuge and its current activities, please visit the Portland Audubon Society Web site.