Flagstaff Hill

by Dr. James Evans

     Greenhorn would be the next mining site. It is at the 6,270-foot elevation in Greenhorn Mountains ( named for a particularly shaped peak.) Greenhorn is Oregon�s highest (7,780-ft. elev.) and smallest incorporated town but lost its post office in 1919.

    In the 1900 era, Greenhorn made a little national history. It was thriving as a gold center but was restricted because its site was surrounded by forest land. Greenhorn needed space to expand so it could build a school. Schools could not be built with one-quarter mile of a saloon and there was just no space. But Mayor Sim Richardson appealed directly to the President of the United States. In response, he received a Charter and a land grant for school purposes. Regrettably, the �legal� school building never materialized but some students were taught, perhaps �illegally,� in the major hotel before the town began to fade.


     Mining village of 1862 earlier called �Independence.� Name changed to Granite in 1878 because of quantities of granite (rocks). Population of several thousand reported but no record of a post office. A Grand Hotel operated many years until it burned. (Granite is in Grant County.)

     From Baker City, proceed easterly to Keating Valley ( pretty valley used for raising cattle) had one general store. Used to be a pheasant hunter�s dream but not much now. From Keating proceed down the Powder River toward Richland which is in Eagle Valley. Richland is a cattle and farming area. It is also a few miles from where the Powder River flows into the backwaters of Brownlee Dam. This was a fisherman's dream before salmon biologists were afraid the still waters behind the dams,( first dam is Brownlee, a few miles downstream is Oxbow dam and a few mile further downstream is Hells Canyon dam.) It was thought to be a good idea when the salmon had hatched and were of smolt size the dams should release enough water to �flush� the salmon smolts downstream toward the Columbia River and then to the Pacific Ocean. Problem was the favorite fish to catch were crappie, when the crappie laid their eggs along the shore banks, the water was drawn down to flush the salmon thereby leaving the crappie eggs high and dry. Fisherman pretty much quit going to Richland to fish because there were few crappies. Idaho Power now leaves water behind Brownlee Dam and the crappie has revived and once again is a popular fishing site.

       From Richland, you travel about eleven-mile over the hill and down into Halfway, Pine Valley, this valley is like Richland�s, mostly cattle. In the winter Richland gets some snow but Halfway and Pine Valley gets up to four feet of snow. Reason is Pine Valley is at the foot of the Wallowa Mountains and as cold air flows down like water, snow comes down like its in a chute. In the summer time it is a beautiful valley.

     From Halfway, one can proceed to Cornucopia, the Cornucopia Gold mine came into production about 15 years after the Elkhorn gold rush (this would be Auburn) the town�s name is from cornucopiae the horn of the goat Amalthaea placed in heaven overflowing with fruit. Following the highway from Halfway will lead to Hells Canyon Dam; this is the end of the road. There is a paved road  a ways from Halfway that follows the Imnaha River and over the mountain leading to Wallowa County and the town of  Joseph, Oregon.


      A rowdy mining and railroad village whose population eventually reached  about 1,000. Post office opened July 26, 1899, closed May 15, 1901 then when railroad pushed its way up the Snake River, including burrowing two tunnels through basalt to also serve an early power plant, town re-established to house workers. Post office re-opened July 20, 1907. By about 1910 rampant lawlessness prevailed. In 1914, Governor Oswald West sent a dispatch by Miss Fern Hobbs, his secretary, with a squad of National Guardsmen and a colonel in command, as enforcers, to close all saloons, seize firearms, burn gambling equipment, clean up the town�s morals, etc. Local officials refused compliance so Miss Hobbs, displaying an order from the governor, declared martial law and within only 80 minutes closed the town�s bars, burned the gambling houses, collected weapons then left her �army� as security while she departed on the waiting train. After the guardsmen left, nearly all of the town suddenly burned. Post office survived it all finally closing July 15, 1927. Some say the town�s lawlessness was an excellent setting for the novel The Oxbow incident.  Copperfield


     Early in the 19th century, persons now of historical significance as Wilson Price Hunt, Captain Bonmmevill (Bonneville ?) and John C. Fremont passed this way over what later became known as the Oregon Trail. They camped on the bank of the Snake River near today�s Farewell Bend State Park.

     A little later, a number of trapping parties of the Hudson�s Bay Company moved through the area following their trapping routes or on their way to the annual rendezvous in Wyoming. These groups often included such as Nathaniel Wyeth, Peter Skege Ogden, John Day and Joe Meek.

     In 1836, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and Henry and Liza Spalding, and other missionaries brought the first wagon over what became the Oregon Trail into the Oregon country. In 1843, Marcus Whitman led the first large emigrant wagon train through here.

     In 1861, R. P. Olds and William Packwood constructed �olds Ferry� to carry wagons, for a toll, across the Snake River; it was discontinued in the early 1920�s.

     In the late 1870�s, the Miller Stage Line�s station was set up near the hill at the West End of the main street of the town. It operated until about 1881 when the Millers sold out to A. H. and J. B. Huntington.  Huntington


Haines was just a village by the Powder River with a grand view of timber within reach and with a popular hot spring. The year was 1863.

     This sleepy little place went unnamed for a long time but would cater to miners, timber men and cattle farmers. With the news that the railroad would pass through the village, it was founded as the town of Haines in 1883 being named for �Judge� I. D. Haines who owned the land upon which the town had risen.

    Sheep by the thousands would be driven to the Haines stockyards for rail shipments to markets. Hay, general agricultural produce, cattle and especially horses for the Army went through the town�s shipping facilities on the way to their destinations. The town�s founding was open invitation for entrepreneurs who put up a hotel, boarding houses, saloons, general stores, blacksmith shops, several livery stables and of course, bordellos.     

Stories still abound about the �Wild West� mystic of Haines. There was the McCarty gang (a bridge was named for them over I-84 freeway) hangings, stories of shootouts and of horses being driven into saloons. In 1884 its post office opened. There was a newspaper (now the Record Courier of Baker City, a bank, popular hot springs, schools, churches and a jail. The town was officially incorporated in 1902.

     The Hot Springs became a sanitarium and its soothing warm waters brought patrons from throughout the Northwest.

     Like many of the settlements that got off with a kick-start, there was a time for mellowing then dwindling. Just about everything in town went on a downward trend. There was the antiquated water works, no sewer and no money. Realizing that a turn-around had to be done for survival, the town�s people grappled with dangling bootstraps and all pulled together.

     In latter years a new fire station was built then came a sewer system through a federal grant. While constructing the system, contractors struck gold while digging under the railroad tracks. This became a source of funding for projects and the Chamber of Commerce clamored that Haines had �gold in the streets.�

     In a spirit of levity, Haines was proclaimed to have �whiskey in the water and gold in the streets.�

     The loss of the Baker Mill and Grain Company was a blow to the community but the company gave the property to the city on which was created a park.

     For years, Dick Camp, who came to Haines and bought Haines commercial Equipment was instrumental to the town. Dick was a long time mayor and contributed a lot of his time promoting the town of Haines. Dick Camp was a remarkable man; I had the pleasure of knowing him.

     After Dick died, the city park was renamed Dick Camp Park Haines

Baker City

Baker City, in Northeast Oregon, has a truly remarkable past with its period business buildings, houses and family histories that record its leadership in the inter-mountain west. Thus , Baker City is not merely a name on a map, it is �Historic Baker City on the National Register of Historic Places.� Baker City may have its �antiques,� but Baker City is alive and well.

     The City owes it early and dramatic leadership and growth to �gold,� that magic word that excites the world. This all goes back to the Oregon Trail that opened the gateway to the West.

     For forty years, the Oregon Trail served the trappers, the missionaries, the settlers, but during that time the isolated Lone Pine Valley in Northeast Oregon was simply a remote, beautiful green valley where they rested their animals, fed them and moved on. But in 1861, Henry griffin changed that when he discovered gold in Griffin Gulch. As the snows melted the next spring, gold seekers flocked to the Auburn Area and scattered widely into the hills.

     With the frantic search for gold, miners needed food, clothing, supplies and every bit of civilization that they were used to back home and wanted in the field. Baker City was in the right place at the right time and became the major supplier for the opening of the west. The location of the town was also related to gold.

     Among the areas where gold could be found was the Virtue area about eight miles east of present Baker City. Colonel J. S. Ruckles, the third owner of the Virtue site, found that ore could be milled quite easily. This was contrary to most early mining. Many miners seemed to know only about working the streams for gold dust and few had any working knowledge of hard rock mining.

     Ruckles looked for a place where he could have waterpower to crush his ore. The nearest source was the Powder River, eight miles distant. By 1864, the town of Auburn was beginning to fade in importance but the new settlement of Baker City was ready. Within one year there was a stage stop and blacksmith. Soon this way stop grew into a village with a hotel, livery, saloon and boarding house.

     The village became a city because of amazing and rapid growth.   Baker City

Baker County

Latest Content

Oregon Obituary Database

We changed our name, and have expanded!

Contains obituaries for Baker, Crook, Grant, Hood River, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa Counties.

Report broken link
Baker County Genealogy
Oregon Counties
Genealogy Records

Oregon Host

Contribute to Oregon Genealogy
If you have information you would like contribute to the website, please use our comment form!! If you find a broken link please let us know!