A far-out explanation for Oregon Road

07/29/2010 12:00 AM |

Oregon Road, circa 1950, in a photograph from the C.H. Meredith Collection held by the Southold Historical Society.

This is part of an occasional series on the history behind the names of some Southold streets.

Back in the days of horses and buggies, a few miles could seem a long way. What’s considered close to home to a modern family could have seemed like the end of the world to a 19th-century farmer.

Historian Norman Wamback of Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society tells a tale that shows how that different sense of distance gave Oregon Road its name.

In 1840, a farmer named Orrin Wiggins purchased property in Mattituck by a road called Wines Highway. Mr. Wiggins, who later moved to Greenport, took the highway to First Presbyterian Church in Cutchogue every Sunday. The first time he went to the church, the minister introduced himself and asked where Mr. Wiggins lived. Mr. Wiggins replied that he lived on a farm near Wines Highway.

“The minister couldn’t believe he lived so far,” said Mr. Wamback. “‘Oh my goodness!’ he said. ‘That’s all the way out in Oregon!'”

The name stuck. From that day forward, Wines Highway was known as Oregon Road; the surrounding region is still called Oregon today.