Umatilla County Towns and Places

Umatilla County

Towns and Places in Umatilla County–Yesterday and Today

Umatilla County was carved from Wasco County

At one point in time, all of Oregon east of the Cascades belonged to Wasco County.  A glance at a map will show how ponderous and unwieldy it was, embracing more, than half of Oregon.  When formed, the farthest settlement to the west was at The Dalles and it was organized with that place as the county seat, with all the “wilderness: to the east and south added to it.  The impossibility of people in the new settlements going s far to transact official business was evident.  If they were to enjoy the benefits of a government, it must be one of their own and accessible.

The Powder River settlers, where the largest population was, and where the need of a government was the most urgent, sent a petition to the Legislature, asking for the creating of a new county to be called Baker.   The petition was presented on the night of September, 1862, by O. Humason, Representative from Wasco, and was referred to a special committee of three.

These gentlemen thoroughly investigated the question, and became convinced that at least two new counties were necessary for a seat of justice on Powder River would not benefit the people of Umatilla or John Day Rivers, while one west of the mountains would be of no advantage to those on the other side.  They therefore reported two bills, one for Baker to embrace all of the state east of the summit ridge of the Blue Mountains, and one for Umatilla, to contain the John Day and Umatilla settlements, the count seat to be with the latter.  The bills passed.

Named for John F. Adams, part of whose homestead is included in the town.
First known as Snipe, named for the post office there and   then Alba, it became Albee after the Albee brothers, well-known stockmen.
First known as Centerville, it was changed to Athena in 1899 by town authorities. The school principal suggested the name.
A station on the Union Pacific Railroad between Milton and Weston. It was named for William G. Bade, a local resident. Due to an error in the transmission of Bade’s name to the railroad, the station was called Bates for a time.
Located about 10 miles west of Pendleton, this was a site for a Union Pacific Railroad station. It was named for Jeremiah Barnhart who lived there. A post office was to have been established in 1897, but the order was rescinded and it was never built.
Located just west of Milton, it was a station on the Union Pacific Railroad. It was named for C.A. Barrett, who owned the land there
Battle Mountain
Named for a fight between whites against Indians in 1878. It is located 25 miles south of Pilot Rock. It was one of the last such battles in Oregon. The state purchased land in the area to create the Battle Mountain State Park in 1934.
Named for a small town in Iowa, Berkley was a post office in the farm home of Coleman Gettings.  It was established in 1903 but closed in 1905. It is located about 10 miles east of Weston.
Bingham Springs
Located east of Gibbon, once a stage stop for Thomas and Ruckel stage line. Also the name of the rail station, but changed back to Gibbon.
Originally called Eastland for Robert E. Eastland, the station was changed to Blakeley for William M. Blakeley, a wheat grower in the area.
Blue Mountain
A station on the Union Pacific Railroad. It was named that as it was the last stop on the way into the Blue Mountains. It was located southwest of Milton, along Dry Creek.
Boiling Point
With an elevation of about 3250 feet, this was the spot on the old US-30 highway   where the old “teapot” automobiles began to boil over on a hot day.   A post office was established here in 1932 with Arthur G. Greer as the only postmaster. It was closed in 1935.  The community lost its steam with the construction of I-84 which took traffic away from the town.
This was a railroad station about 3 miles southeast of Gibbon. It was named for a well-known rancher in the area in 1928.
This was a post office which operated between March 1891 and September 1891. It was located in a  room in the Braden household, with Jennie Braden as the postmaster.   It was located along the lower Walla Walla road about 4 miles north of Milton.
This post office provided service from an area around Weston up to the Blue Mountains in what is known as the Wildhorse Mountain district.  While Dan Briggs promoted the post office for the area, it was located in the home of the McCorkell’s because the Briggs ranch was too far back in the mountains. It was named in his honor in 1896 and closed in 1909. William McCorkell was the only postmaster.
Cabbage Hill
Locally, this refers to what is actually  Emigrant Hill, or I-84.   According to McArthur, Cabbage Hill is actually a long spur extending down Emigrant Hill, ending at Table Rock at McKay Creek. The name “Cabbage Hill” comes from a garden containing cabbages on land owned by Mr. Huderman, near the top of the slope. It was named that by G.L. Dunn, of Gibbon, who was herding sheep in the area. The name was adopted and has been used ever since.
Cold Springs Junction
A station on the Union Pacific Railroad on the south bank of the Columbia River.
Dale was first called Dorman, for the first post office located there in 1887. James W. Dorman was the first postmaster.  The name change occurred in 1891.   It is now located in Grant County.
A post office located near Ukiah, it was established in 1887 and named for James W. Dorman, the first postmaster.  The name was changed to Dale in 1891.
Named for Echo Koontz. The family was among the first to settle there about 1880.  Fort Henrietta was also located there.
Named for Squire Evarts, a lawyer, entrepreneur and possibly a justice of the peace.   The post office was established in 1885 and closed within a year in favor of Ridge, located nearby.
Fort Henrietta
Constructed by a detachment of the First Oregon Mounted Rifles under the command of Major Mark A. Chinn in 1855 during the Yakima War.  It was located along the west bank of the Umatilla River in what is now Echo.
Originally called New Walla Walla, it was changed to Freewater in 1890. It was established out of dissatisfaction with Milton. In 1950, the towns of Milton and Freewater were merged into one city named Milton-Freewater.
A station on the Union Pacific Railroad, named for John Gibbon, a distinguished American army officer
Located about 16 miles south of Vinson, Gurdane is named for John S. Gurdane, a pioneer settler of Umatilla County. A post office was established there in 1890. Gurdane was a member of the Oregon State Legislature.
The post office was established in 1880. Reportedly named Helix for an infection in the “helix” of the ear suffered by a resident of the town.
Named for Robert L. Stevenson’s unfinished novel Weir of Hermiston. It also didn’t duplicate any post office name in the United States. It was first called Maxwell, for a railroad official
The principal northwest switching point for the Union Pacific Railroad.  It was named for Joseph T. Hinkle, a Umatilla County attorney who sold the railroad the land for the railway.
Named for the Holdman brothers, early day settlers. The post office was established there in 1900. There is a small cemetery.
It was established as an additional Union Pacific Railroad station in 1928, east of Cayuse.  It may have been named for a Walla Walla Chief, Homily.
Hudson Bay
While there isn’t a body of water here, it was nonetheless given this name by the Hudson’s Bay Company who operated a farm there. It is located west of Milton-Freewater.
Located on Meacham Creek, the UPR station was located about 8 miles northeast of Meacham.  It was named for Jake Huron who operated a sawmill with partner, Eph Johnson.  A post office was located there from 1905 to 1913.
Juniper post office was established in 1894. It was also a UPR station and was located close to the Columbia River. It is just north of Juniper Canyon, north of Holdman.
Site of Lehman Springs, it was named for pioneer settler James Lehman.
This was a railroad station reportedly named after A.L. Maxwell, a railroad official.  However, the postal authorities would not allow the name because of a duplication of name.  Thus, the name Hermiston was chosen as the name.
Located near the summit of the Blue Mountains, it is a station on the Union Pacific Railroad.  Named for brothers Harvey J. and Alfred B. Meacham who operated Meacham Station in the 1860’s to 1870’s.
H.A.G. Lee established Lees Encampment in the 1840’s there. On July 3, 1923 it was the Capitol of the USA!
The towns of Freewater and Milton merged as one in 1951.  See also: Frazier Farmstead Museum
Named for Gilbert Minthorn, the station was located east of Pendleton
Named for Thomas L. Moorhouse, postmaster, the post office was established on Jan. 5, 1880, was first named Morehouse by the post office. It was located at the Prospect Ranch on a stage road northwest of Pendleton and northeast of what is now Stanfield.
A station on the Burlington Northern northeast of Pendleton. It was originally called Warren, but was changed to Myrick so as not to be confused with Warren in Columbia County.  It was named for Samuel Jackson Myrick who came to Oregon from Missouri in the spring of 1884 and settled nearby.
Located about 8 miles southwest of Pilot Rock, it was named for early resident A.W. Nye.  The first post master was Henry C. Wright.
The War Department commissioned an establishment in northern Umatilla County in 1941. It was named Umatilla Ordnance Depot. Ordnance post office was established in 1943.
Overtime Spring
Located near where the Texas Bar Creek enters the North Fork John Day River was given its name by the USFS in the 1960’s. The unique name comes from the fact that truck drivers for Georgia Pacific Company would stop there on coffee breaks, often exceeding the “eight hours straight time” of the Federal Wage and Hour Act.
Named for Democratic candidate vice-president George Hunt Pendleton, of Ohio.  It was designated as the county seat over Umatilla Landing.  M.E. Goodwin and G.W. Bailey owned much of the townsite.  Pendleton is well-known for the Pendleton Round-up.
Pilot Rock
Named for a large bluff of basalt near the community. The post office was established in December 1868. Andrew Sturtevant was the first Postmaster.  See: Camas Valley   Winnie E. Hill Homstead
Pine Grove
This was a post office about 12 miles south of Pilot Rock, on one of the branches of Birch Creek. It was established in 1911 and closed in 1934.
Located about 12 miles southeast of Pilot Rock. The name of the post office was taken from the location of the post office, located on the watershed between Birch Creek and Butter Creek drainages.  A sawmill was also located there. The post office operated from 1882 and 1906.
Rieth started as a station for UPR when the railroad established new shops and terminals west of Pendleton.  A post office was established there as well. Rieth was named for the pioneer family who lived there.  The post office was closed in 1971 and the repair yard was moved to Hinkle.
The post office was established near the junction of the railroad station North Fork and Meacham Creek to serve wood cutters operating in the Blue Mountains. It was commissioned in 188 and closed in 1895. Isaac Ruddock was the postmaster. After 1895, mail service was available at Gibbon.
Francis M. Salisbury was the postmaster of this facility in operation between 1894 and 1896. Located on McKay Creek near the western boundary of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, about midway between Pendleton and Pilot Rock.
First called Foster, it was changed to Stanfield for Robert N. Stanfield, a U.S. Senator from Oregon.  Foster post office was established in 1883 but later changed to Stanfield.  Senator Stanfield owned land nearby. The post office at Stanfield was established in 1907.
John H. Swart was the postmaster at this facility established in 1897, about 7 miles south of Gibbon.  Some of the family members were involved in the railroad service shipping wood from the area. The post office was established to serve the area in the vicinity of the railroad spur.
This post office was situated along the road to Elgin, about 15 miles east of Weston.  It operated from 1896 to about the turn of the century.
A summer settlement at the summit of the Blue Mountains, Tanks was named for the water tanks used by the freight haulers–not the railroad. It was situated along the road between Walla Walla and Elgin.  DeWitt C. French was the first postmaster. It operated from 1896 until 1906.
Thorn Hollow was the name given to the geographic area by a stage coach driver for the abundance of thorns along the road. The nameThorn Hollow was given the to the area in the 1870’s.  A post office was established there in 1923, and it was the post office authorities who  made the name one word.  The post office closed in 1926, while  the Thorn Hollow railroad station lasted until the 1970’s.
Named for the toll gate placed on the toll road in the 1870’s, the name has stuck.  The gate was at Woodward Meadow, now the site of the USFS Ranger Station.  The postal service established a post office there in 1941, but ceased operation in 1954.
A new station was established west of Gibbon named Tumia. It was an abbreviation of the Indian name Toom-hi-ya, wife of Charles Shaplish who lived nearby.
The Camas Land Company platted the town in 1890, the post office established that same year.  The name was suggested after the town of the same name in California.
Formerly known as Vincent, it was changed to Umapine when it was found that it was a duplication of post office name. The post office operated from 1916 until 1966. The name is for a Cayuse or Umatilla Indian chief.
It was first called Umatilla Landing, and later Umatilla City.   It was a stopping place for traffic with the Boise and Owyhee mines. Called Columbia for a time, it returned to its present name of Umatilla. The post office there was the first one in eastern Oregon.
Umatilla Reservation
The Umatilla Indian Reservation was established in 1855 for the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Indians at the Stevens Treaty Council near present-day Walla Walla, Washington. At one time, the U.S. Government wanted to put all tribes (Nez Perce, Yakama, Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Wasco, Tenino and other smaller bands) on one reservation near present-day Yakima, Washington. The Indian peoples refused. The Governor of the Oregon Territory held treaty councils with the various tribes and finally agreed that a separate reservation should be made for the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, another for the Nez Perce, and another for the Yakama.
Vanscycle Canyon
Commonly spelled “Vansycle” the correct spelling of the person for which it was named  was “Vansyckle.”  The canyon opens into the Walla Walla Valley, east of Wallula. The post office operated from 1882 to 1900.
Named for John S. Vinson, a pioneer settler who ran a store there. He partnered with Frank Newman in livestock and farming. A post office was located there and later a mercantile was added. A stage station was located at Vinson on the line between The Dalles and Pendleton by way of Heppner.  The post office was originally named Butter in 1873, with Mr. Vinson as the postmaster. It was changed to Vinson in 1881. It was closed in 1907.
The Northern Pacific Railway established this station about 5 miles southeast of Helix. It was named for a local family. The post office operated from 1888 to 1895 with William O. Warren as the postmaster.  It was oftentimes confused with Warren in Columbia County. The name was changed toMyrick, another local family. That post office operated intermittently from 1902 through 1908
Westland was created because of the construction of the railroad in the area. It was situated along the west bank of the Umatilla River, 8 miles west of Stanfield.  The post office established there operated between 1917 and 1922.
Name for Weston, Missouri by T.T. Lieuallen for his home in Missouri.  He was the first postmaster at Weston and intended for the name to beWestern but the postal service named it Weston instead. 
About 10 miles southeast of Echo, Hugh G. Yoakum bought a stock ranch along the Umatilla River. A native of Tennessee, he arrived in Pendleton in 1867 and elected county judge in 1872. Yoakum moved to Idaho in 1889 and the community is but a memory.

 Information on each town or place has been derived from:

“Oregon Geographic Names” by Lewis A. McArthur,
published by Oregon Historical Society Press

From “Historic Sketches of Walla Walla, Whitman, Columbia,
and Garfield Counties, Washington Territory and Umatilla County, Oregon,”
by Frank T. Gilbert, Portland, Oregon 1882

Umatilla County, Oregon