Dave Woodward and Mysteries in the Mt. Emily Area, Union County, Oregon

That great territory between Summerville and Walla Walla on the other side of the Blue Mountains has long been and is to this day a dark and foreboding region. Much of it yet remains unexplored and many are the tales to it. A few disappearances of individuals are here related as typical examples

     On 30 January 1896 Dave Woodward who operated a toil road between the Grande Ronde and Walla Walla valleys left Elgin with a sled load of provisions which he planned to take to his summer home at Toll Gate. During the winter time the Woodward family lived either at Elgin or at Milton. Just why Woodward was intent on making the journey in the dead of winter is not known. Friends in Elgin, fearing for his safety attempted to dissuade him from the trip, but he persisted in going and after having passed from their sight nothing more was ever seen of him. Posses who entered the hills in search of him found his broken snow shoes near Spout Springs but no trace of his sled, axe, shovel or any of the canned provisions he took with him have ever been found. Woodward might have been overcome by the storm and devoured by predatory animals, but it would appear that some of the iron implements might have been found no trace of them was ever reported It is a mystery which probably never will he solved.

     Ten years later in July of 1906 a family named Btrittain from Walla Walla were camped near Toll Gate. While the mother was preparing supper, their small son, Cecil, was playing around the camp fire. Ten minutes later it was noticed that he had disappeared. and no trace of him was ever found. Posses scoured the area thoroughly and for years following every effort was made to follow any clue but without success. He has remained lost as completely as if the earth had swallowed him.

     On the Summerville side at least two children have disappeared without trace. In the late 1870's Alma Miller a six year old girl disapşpeared from her home on the mountain and was never seen again. Old timers have long felt that she was picked up by gypsies but there was never any real basis for this theory, As late as 1941, Raymond Dowd, a two and a half year old boy, wandered from his home five miles northwest of Summerville and despite a concentrated search in which hundreds participated, no trace was ever found


Contributed by: Jim Reavis  

Union County



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