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Historic Union County, Oregon Towns

  • Cabin Creek*
  • Camp Carson. Camp Carson was a mining camp on the upper reaches of the Grande Ronde River but the source of its name is a mystery. Perhaps the early gold seekers gave it the title from the Carson City area of Nevada. It is noted on war Department Maps of 1877 as an abandoned place the implication being that it was a military establishment. However no record of its existence as a military post can he found on war Department records. The fact that it was well known as a mining camp in the early 1860's would seem to in­dicate that it gained its name during the gold rush and prior to the military activities in the Union County area.
  • Camp Elkanah*
  • Cromwell the exact location of this post office sometimes also called Antelope Valley. cannot be determined but it was at some point between North Powder and Telocasct probably near the present railroad siding of Sago. It was in operation from 1882 to 1886.
  • Crooks. This is the name of a railroad siding located near Telocaset and named after William Crooks, a son of Ramsay Crooks of the Astor Overland expedition. William Crooks was an official of the Union Pacific railroad in the early days of the railroad the siding was given the name Bacon, the story being that an old-time engineer had smashed into a carload of bacon on that siding spreading the commodity over the hillside.
  • Dan this post office is known at present as Hilgard. Dan had a very short life as its name was changed to Hilgard in August of 1883 after its establishment in July of that same year.
  • Elk Flat*
  • Hilgard. This post office, near the junction of Grande Ronde River and Five Points Creek in the Blue Mountains was named in honor of Henry Villard. Hilgard being his original name. Villard, as herein before noted built the railroad over the Blue Mountains. Hilgard was at one time the scene of a great deal of activity in the logging industry.
  • Indian Valley*
  • Jamestown the post office was in existence from 1882 to 1886 and was located in the north part of what is now Baker County, northeast of Baker, but at that time a part of Union County. Jamestown also was known as Big Creek, from the stream of that name in the region.
  • Kamela The origin of this name is not definitely known but it probably is from an Indian word meaning "tree" in several forms. During the stagecoach days Kamela was known as Summit Station, a name not ac­ceptable to the railroad company which for many years operated a helper station at that point. The official interpreter of the Umatilla Indian Agency stated in 1927 that Kamela was a Nez Percé word meaning "tamarack." There is a tradition that Kamela was a compiled word made from the initials of civil engineers employed in laying out the railroad grade. This however, is probably not correct. There was a station name so compiled called Mickecha, located at or near the present site of Gibbon, located further down the mountain on the Umatilla County side.
  • Looking Glass*
  • Nibley. This community was founded by members of the Mormon Church near the point where the present La Grande-Cove Highway crosses the Grande Ronde River about 10 miles east of La Grande. At its height the town had about fifty families. All that remains today to mark the location is the small cemetery just to the right of the high-way at the crest of the hill before one descends to the river.
  • Oro Dell, located at the point where the Grande Ronde River enters the valley, is today marked and there is an evidence that it once threatened to become a more important community than La Grande. At the time Mr. Fox set his mill there the locality was known as "Stealeasy" and by other frivolous names. Captain Harlow one of the men working at the mill and evidently a man of some education and familiar with the classics, originated the name "Oro Dell." It is a combination of the Greek word "ores" meaning mountain, and the English word "dell" the entire phrase meaning "nook in the mountain," certainly an appropriate name for such a beautiful spot  In the early days the peak on the south side of the river was known as "Oro Dell Peak." In more recent times the name "Rooster Peak" has been applied, in imitation of Rooster Rock on the Columbia River. It would seem that Ora Dell Peak is a more, apt and descriptive name and one which should be used instead of the meaningless modern appellation.
         The town of Oro Dell maintained a post office for many years. Its leading citizen was W. J. Snodgrass who maintained a large," merchandising establishment there.
  • Sand Ridge. A post office was established on 6 April 1875 and existed until 9 July 1877, at this point on the stage route from Union to Summerville. It was in the center of Grande Ronde Valley, probably east of Alicel a few miles, although the exact location cannot now he determined.

  • Slater. Undoubtedly named in honor of United States Senator James H. Slater, of La Grande this post office was probably near to or at the site of the older post office of Sand Ridge. It had but brief existence being established in June of 1881 and discontinued the fallowing January the business being turned over to Summerville.

  • Starkey. This locality is on the upper Grande Ronde River about fifteen miles from La Grande. It was an important lumbering community in the '80's and '90's and was named for John and William Starkey brothers and pioneer homesteaders in that region.

  • Thief Valley This little valley is located east of North Powder and was named after John Wetherly was hanged there by vigilantes in December 1864.  Wetherly was accused of stealing four mules from an emigrant at Boise.

  • Woodley A post office was established at this point in 1896 It was a mining community located on the upper reaches of the Grande Ronde river not far from Camp Carson. A few buildings at the site of Woodley were still standing in recent years.

Towns of Union County, Oregon

There are several other Union county communities and locations which deserve mention in any brief summary of the county's history. Some of them had but a brief existence and little or nothing remains to mark the spot where they stood. Others are flourishing communities settled later than the towns previously mentioned. But all of them have made their contributions to the history of the county. These locations include:  Historic Towns

Alicel This small community on the Sand Ridge in Grande Ronde Valley was named by Charles Ladd, a local resident about 1890 in honor of his wife Alice Ladd.

Imbler. Jesse Imbler was a farmer in the valley in the 1890's, and it was on his land that the town was platted in 1891. The Kerr Gifford Company elevator in Imbler stands on the site of the first flour mill built in that town by Jesse Hindman and John McKinnis in 1903.

Meacham. Although not in Union County this location has been very closely connected with Union County history. It was first known as Lee's Encampment. H.A.G. Lee having established a camp there in the 1840's. Meacham is named for Alfred and Harvey Meacham, brothers who operated the Meacham stage station in the 60"s and 70's.

Perry. located five miles west of La Grande on the Grande Ronde River. Perry was first known as Slumptown but the name was later changed to Perry in honor of an early railroad dispatcher in La Grande. Perry was for many years the site of the Grande Ronde Lumber Com­pany's large mill.

Telocaset. The word, pronounced by the Indiana as ''Taulekaset." is one of New Percé origin and means “on the top" it is appropriate as it marks the crest on the railroad grade between the Grande Rondo and Baker valleys. In early stagecoach days this place was called Antelope Station. The Telocaset post office was established in 1883.

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