Mt. Angel was originally settled in 1850 by Benjamin Cleaver, who later planned a townsite which he named Roy. In 1881, a railroad station was established and named Fillmore after a railroad official. The following year, a post office with the name of Roy was established, but neither name was to last.
Rev. Fr. Adelheim Odermatt, O.S.B., came to Oregon in 1881 with a contingent of Benedictine monks from Engelberg, Switzerland, in order to establish a new American daughter house. After visiting several locations, he found Lone Butte to be the ideal location for a new abbey, and shortly afterwards ministered to several local Roman Catholic parishes, about the same time large numbers of immigrants from Bavaria settled in the area. Due to his efforts, the city, post office and the nearby elevation Lone Butte came to be known as Mount Angel (an English translation of Engelberg) in 1883. He also established Mount Angel Abbey, a Benedictine monastery and school, which was moved permanently to Mt. Angel in 1884.
The city of Mt. Angel was incorporated April 3, 1893. The post office of Saint Benedict, Oregon was established at the Abbey.
Mount Angel Abbey is still located on Mount Angel. The original Kalapuyan name of the butte is Tapalamaho, which translates to “Mount of Communion.” At the request of the Archbishop of Oregon City, the abbey opened Mount Angel Seminary in 1889 for the training of priests. The original wooden buildings at the foot of the butte were destroyed in a fire in the 1890s, and another disastrous fire in 1926 consumed the second monastery, an imposing five-story edifice of black basalt at the top of the butte. The current monastery building was completed in 1928, and subsequent structures followed, including a library built by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in 1970. A bell tower was added to the abbey church in 2007 which contains eight bells, one of which is the largest swinging bell in the Pacific Northwest.