Date of visit: May 27, 2012
Population: 699 (2010 Census)

The town of Echo sits on the east side of the Umatilla River. Before the town even existed the Umatilla Indian Agency (for the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes) was established on the west side of the river in 1851. However during the Yakima Indian War of 1855 Indians destroyed it. The Oregon Mounted Volunteers built a stockade on the site, called Fort Henrietta. It was abandoned in 1856, and all that remains of the old fort is the blockhouse that you can visit at Fort Henrietta Park.


Welcome to Echo

Echo main street
Main Street

Teel Building
Teel Building

H&P Cafe
H&P Cafe

Post office
Post Office

Blockhouse from Fort Henrietta

Echo Methodist Church
Echo Methodist Church

Ross House
The Ross House, built in 1910

Map of Echo

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 27, 2012
Population: 6,906 (2010 Census)

Oregon Women won the right to vote in 1912. In 1916 in Umatilla they exercised that right to elect some of their own into city government. Citizens were dissatisfied with the way the all-male city council was running things (or rather, not running things). So on December 5 they voted seven women into power: four city council members, a recorder, a treasurer, and a major. Laura Starcher was elected mayor, defeating her incumbent husband, E.E. Starcher. In her victory speech she said “We believe the women can do many things and effect many reforms in this town that the men did not dare to do.” The press called it a “petticoat coup.”

The Umatilla government continued to be female-dominated until 1921. The women felt that they had accomplished what they wanted done and bowed out that year. No other women stepped up to replace them and the government returned to being all-male.

Welcome to Umatilla

McNary Dam on the Columbia River

City Hall & Library
City Hall and Library

Divine Dining
Divine Dining

Java Junkies
Java Junkies

Giant cowboy
Giant cowboy

Umatilla Museum
Umatilla Museum

Map of Umatilla

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 27, 2012
Population: 16,745 (2010 Census)

Watermelons are famous in Hermiston even though they are not the biggest crop in this area. Back in the 1960s the Hermiston mayor, Frank Harkenrider, was looking for a way to promote his town. Potatoes and alfalfa weren’t very interesting, but watermelons were. So he decided to market Hermiston as a place that grew quality watermelons and even started delivering Hermiston watermelons to the mayor of Portland. Eventually the melons started becoming so popular around the Pacific Northwest that the name Hermiston became synonymous with watermelons. Umatilla County produces 45,000 tons of watermelons annually. Well-drained sandy soils, long growing season, and plenty of sunshine make for good growing conditions. High daytime temperatures and cool nighttime temperatures make for a sweeter melon as well.

Welcome to Hermiston

Hermiston Watermelons
Advertising the watermelons

Hermiston Main Street
Quiet Main Street on a Sunday morning

Clock in McKenzie Park

Peaceful evening
Riverfront Park

Roemark’s Men’s Wear

Maxwell Siding
Old trail cars at Maxwell Siding

Florist shop in historic building

Hermiston Library
Hermiston Public Library

Map of Hermiston

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 26, 2012
Population: 329 (2010 Census)

The little town of Ione was established in the 1880s. An early resident of the town, Joseph A. Woolery, moved there in early 1890s and set up a general store. He became a successful merchant and served as the town’s postmaster. He was elected as the town’s first mayor. He built a beautiful house in 1900 which still stands today (serving as a B&B). He was so respited and revered that when he died in March 1908 an estimated thousand people gathered for his funeral.

Welcome to Ione

Main Street
Ione’s main street

City Hall and library
City Hall and library

Old street signs as artwork in the city park

Woolery House
The historic Woolery House is now a B&B

Old house
A crumbling old house

Old grain elevator

St. Williams Catholic Church
St. Williams Catholic Church

FIrst fire hydrant
Ione’s first fire hydrant

Map of Ione

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 26, 2012
Population: 238 (2010 Census)

Morrow County was created in 1885, carved out of the western part of Umatilla County and a small part of eastern Wasco County. It was named in honor of Jackson Lee Morrow, an early settler in the area. Heppner became the temporary county seat until an election could be held to determine the permanent county seat. The election was to be held in 1886 and both Lexington and Heppner were vying to win.

Heppner citizens donated land on which to build the courthouse and contributed money towards the cost of building it, even though the vote hadn’t happened yet. Lexington residents were not amused and they countered with a building site of their own as well as $3,000 in building funds. On the day of the vote Heppner’s youth rode out to surrounding sheep ranches so the ranchers could go into town and vote. That night during the ballot count Lexington was beating out Heppner by a wide margin. The ballot counters called it a night at 2am, posting a guard until counting could be resumed in the morning. The guard, so the story goes, was drugged via his coffee and in the morning all the ballots had disappeared. The issue went to court, which ruled that Heppner would become the county seat since it had already been serving as the temporary location anyway. So Lexington lost its bid to become the county seat of Morrow County.


Entering Lexington

Community Bible Church
Community Bible Church

Steak house
Steak House

A closed store in Lexington bearing the name of the nearby town of Heppner

Fire station
City Hall and Fire Station

Morrow County Grain Growers
Morrow County Grain Growers

Map of Lexington

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 26, 2012
Population: 21 (2010 Census)

Lonerock is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, named after an enormous 35-foot-tall rock behind the church. The community was established in 1881 as a service center for the surrounding ranches, then incorporated in 1901. The town is so tiny that its population peaked at 82 in 1930 and has been in decline ever since.

The nearest town is Condon, about 20 miles away, about half of that being gravel road.

Welcome to Lonerock
Welcome to Lonerock

Post office
The “post office”

Old Community Hall
Old community hall

New Community Hall
New community hall

The lone rock
The famous rock behind the church

Former schoolhouse
The old schoolhouse is now a private home

Town jail
The old town jail

Map of Lonerock

Oregon Towns Project

Hood River

Date of visit: May 12, 2012
Population: 7,167 (2010 Census)

One of Hood River’s early settlers, Nathaniel Coe, thought that the soil in the Hood River Valley would be good for orchards so around 1854 he planted apple trees. His hunch proved to be correct and within a few decades the valley was dotted with fruit trees as well as strawberry fields. Hood River became well-known for its apples.

In December 1919 the temperature dropped to 27 degrees below zero and thousands of fruit trees were killed. The apple trees were especially affected, the pears less so. So when farmers re-planted they chose pear trees over apple trees. Although apples are still grown in Hood River, today the area is the world’s leading producer of Anjou pears. About two-thirds of Oregon’s pears are grown here, and a Pear Celebration is held in September with at least 18 different varieties of pears available for tasting and purchase. Over a billion pears are grown in Oregon each year, and they are shipped to 36 countries around the world.

Welcome to Hood River

Downtown Hood River

Hood River City Hall
City Hall

Hood River County Library
Hood River County Library

Mike's Ice Cream
Mike’s Ice Cream, a very popular place on a hot summer day

First National Bank
First National Bank building

G. Williker's Toy Shoppe
G. Williker’s Toy Shoppe

McLaren House
The historic 1907 McLaren House

Inn at the Gorge B&B
The Huggins House was built in 1908 and is now the Inn at the Gorge B&B

Columbia Gorge Hotel
Columbia Gorge Hotel

Map of Hood River

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: May 12, 2012
Population: 433 (2010 Census)

Prior to 1920, the only way to drive between Hood River and Mosier was up and over Mosier Hill on a dangerous road that had been built in 1874. During construction of the Columbia River Highway in 1919, two highway tunnels were constructed just east of town. The tunnels were carved into the steep hillside 300 feet above the railroad tracks and the river. The new highway and the tunnels made it easier for people to drive between Hood River and Mosier, even though frequent landslides caused headaches for both drivers and road crews.

In the 1950s the tunnels were abandoned when Interstate 84 was built. But in the 1990s the abandoned stretch of historic highway between Hood River and Mosier was restored, including the twin tunnels. The old road is now a hiking and biking trail.

Welcome to Mosier

Pioneer cemetery
Mosier Pioneer Cemetery

Pioneer cemetery
Mosier Totem

Route 30 Classics and Roadside Refreshments

Thirsty Woman
Thirsty Woman Brewpub

Post Office
Post office

Mosier Valley Library
The volunteer-run library

Mosier City Hall
Mosier City Hall

Beautiful setting
View of the train tracks and Interstate 84 from town

Mosier Tunnel
One of the old tunnels

Map of Mosier

Oregon Towns Project


Date of visit: October 16, 2011
Population: 15,962 (2010 Census)

Troutdale’s downtown was hit by a devastating fire on July 21, 1907. The fire started at the Red Front, an annex of the Troutdale Hotel. The occupants of the annex had been “carousing in the saloons” late into the night according to a 7/22/1907 Oregonian newspaper article. After returning to the Red Front W.J. Smith was so intoxicated that he knocked over a kerosene lamp and a fire began. Smith was apparently too drunk to save himself and was burned to death in the fire.

The fire quickly spread to the main hotel and even though every able-bodied man in Troutdale responded to help fight the fire the only equipment was a small hose cart and a fire hydrant fed from a spring on the hill. The newspaper article said that “this inadequate means of fighting fire was used for all it was worth, supplanted by a bucket brigade, but nothing be done to check the flames until the whole block was destroyed.” Fortunately the buildings on the other side of the street were saved.

Shopkeepers and hotel owners up and down the street could see what was going to happen and a surprising amount of merchandise and furniture was saved. The postmaster was able to save everything except the cabinet and office safe, but he seemed to determine to live up to the famous postal service motto (Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds) and opened the office on time the next morning in temporary quarters at the Masonic Hall, receiving and dispatching mail as usual.

Welcome to Troutdale

Sculpture in the downtown area

Centennial Arch
Centennial Arch

Shops along main street

City Hall
Troutdale City Hall

Troutdale Rail Depot Museum

Harlow House
The historic Harlow House, now a museum

Barn at the Harlow House

Troutdale Methodist Episcopal Church
Troutdale Methodist Episcopal Church

McMenamins Edgefield
McMenamins Edgefield, formerly a poor farm

Map of Troutdale

Oregon Towns Project

Wood Village

Date of visit: October 16, 2011
Population: 3,878 (2010 Census)

Wood Village is a former company town, built to house the workers who worked at Reynolds Metals, which operated an aluminum reduction plant. The plant was built by the government in 1941 to produce aluminum for the war effort, and Wood Village was established the following year. It was one of the first planned communities in Oregon and was constructed on 50 acres of farmland surrounding the Stephen Arata estate. It had single and multi-family housing (183 homes and 264 temporary apartments), streets, stores, a water system, a sewage treatment plant, street lights, and a community building.

The plant was purchased by Reynolds in 1949. It was one of three plants that Reynolds purchased in order to boost their production during the post-war building boom.
The plant shut down in 2000, a victim of falling aluminum prices and the increased use of plastic. Wood Village is now a small suburb tucked in-between Fairview and Troutdale.

Historic Shaw House, built in 1887 and now a nursing home

A path in Donald L. Robertson City Park

Arata Creek School

One of the old company houses

Map of Wood Village

Oregon Towns Project