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 History of Wasco County, Oregon
by Wm. H. McNeal

Chapter 2
(approximately 32 pages when printed)


     The Pony Express and Stage Coach chapter in the history of old Wasco County is one of the most interesting and romantic bits of our 100 years of history. Very little research has been did in this field and comparatively few articles have been written. The only difference between the Pony Express or mule express or freight express was the means of conveyance.


     The first mails brought into the Oregon country was by boat for the Hudson Bay Co. and the mission-aries, trappers or early settlers. The Oregonian of Jan. 8, 1905 said the first 6 sacks of mail from N.Y. to Oregon, via San Francisco and Astoria, was hauled in the bark Sequin, in charge of Capt. Z.C. Norton in 1847; and the first Oregon post office was established at Astoria that year. Capt. Norton was the Express representative for Todd & Co. The Oregon Postmaster General at that time was W.G. T'Vault who received his appointment from the Oregon Provencal Legislature. His rates for 1 sheet of paper for 30 miles was 15¢; 30 to 80 miles 25¢; 80 to 200 miles 50¢; newspapers 4¢ each. He established post offices at Astoria, Vancouver, Oregon City, Champoeg, Salem and Dallas. There was no money to pay postmasters with in those days. Mail was brought by boat from Astoria to Oregon City and the first Pony Express routes were out of Oregon City to the above named Willamette valley post offices. By June 1850 the Pacific Mail steamship Caroline made a trip up the Columbia as did later the SS Oregon. By 1851 the mail boats were reaching Portland, Milwaukee and Oregon City.

     In 1851 Capt. Nathaniel Coe, an 1812 War Veteran who later filed on a donation land claim at Hood River, was appointed the government Postal Agent for Oregon and let contracts for Pony Express and Mail service as well as boat service; established new post offices and approved existing offices in Oregon and Washington. He appointed Wm. Gibson as the first postmaster at The Dalles and let the contract to Justin Chenowith to bring the mail from the Cascade's to The Dalles by sail boat.

     Todd & Co. Express, operated by Alex H. Todd (1851), as stated above, was the first to serve Oregon. He admitted L.W. Newell to partnership and in Oct. 1851 sold to Newell & Co. (a branch of Adams Express), and went out of business in 1855. In southern Oregon (1851) Joseph Gregory (Gregory & Co.) operated south from the Oregon mines. In 1852 Dugan & Co. established an express line between Portland and the southern Oregon mines where he connected with Newell for service to Calif. with A.B. Stuart their messenger. In 1853 Dugan sold to Crane, Rodgers & Co. (a branch of Adams Express) and went broke in 1855. Crane-Rodgers sold to Wells Fargo, who appeared in Portland in 1852, upon the failure of Adams Express. They sold to Tracy & Co. in 1859. E.W. Tracy and Edw. Norton were figureheads for Wells Fargo who later operated all Tracy lines and holdings (1860) with E.W. Tracy their agent. There were no banks then and Wells Fargo was the medium of exchange which carried the gold. In 1854 A.H. Stuart operated an Express line service to The Dalles but the Indian troubles of 1855-56 prevented their branching out. Wells Fargo took over their business in 1858 when they dominated the entire field. In 1837 the American Express Co. appeared in Portland. Wells Fargo letter rate was 50¢ each; gold rate was 5% of weight.


     Wells Fargo was the biggest and most widely known of all the Express companies. It was first established in N.Y. (1840) and incorporated in 1852, opening offices in San Francisco and a year or so later they appear in Portland and as early as 1858 were in The Dalles and operated out of here, first by mule and horses to the mines and then by stage coach and remained in the field until the coming of the railroads in 1883. It is interesting to note that when the Union Pacific built west to Ogden in 1869 they had their own express company called the "Union Express Co." but Wells Fargo directors soon raised the necessary funds to "consolidate" the two companies under the Wells Fargo name. Henry Wells and Johnson Livingston and Wm. Fargo were the pioneer expressman behind this powerful company.


     Scott's History of Oregon says the first Pony Express (pack train) service (page 183) was established from The Dalles to Ft. Boise as early as 1850; and in 1851 Newell & Co. and Adams & Co. advertised express service pack train from The Dalles to all points in eastern Oregon. Their ads appeared in the Dec. 1, 1852, Mar. 26, 1853 and July 9, 1853 papers. The Dictionary of Oregon History by Leland Gilbert stated the eastern Oregon mining camps were served in 1852 to 1854 by Todd & Co. Express; that that Stewart Express operated riders from Vancouver to the Cascades; The Dalles to Colville mines (1855); Portland to The Dalles 1856

Mr. Edwin R. Payne

     Mr. Edwin R. Payne, stamp and cover collector of Salem, Ore. explains an Express Company "Frank." A Frank is either a hand stamped or printed impression on a U.S. government stamped envelope, used by early Express companies, showing the express fees had been paid for carrying the envelope and generally contained the word PAID on the face of the envelope. The Frank was hand stamped on an envelope before 1853 and by law was placed on stamped government envelopes after 1953, if carried by Express companies; they were required to have postage on each envelope whether they were ever handled by the postal service or not. Mail originating on one express line would be carried by another. This was the system used on by all Express companies out of The Dalles and elsewhere. Wells Fargo bought government stamped envelopes and printed their own Frank on them and much of their mail was delivered by the postal service. The Hastings Express Co. (1855-56) had a galloping pony as part of their Frank on letter between Portland and the Cascades or to The Dalles.


     Mr. Ed. Payne, Salem post office clerk, stamp and cover collector furnished the names of the following Express companies in Oregon between 1850 and 1860, whose Franked covers are wanted by collectors: Buchanan & Co.; Brent & Nelson; Edgar's Canyon City Express; Enright's Boise Express; Jones Express and Jones & Edgars; C.M. Lockwood Express; Ish & Bailey; McBeans Granite Creek Express; Rundell & Co.; Rundell & Jones; Stoner & Scott and Wells Fargo. Some of these operated in eastern Oregon then a part of old Wasco County. There was also Edgar & Burke; Greathouse & Co.; Ish & Carr; Military Letter Exp.; Northern Pacific Express; Pacific Stage Co.; Shepherd & Cooper; Scofield & Co. Wilson & Co. The names of these last 9 companies was supplied by Art Farrel, R.4, Boise, Idaho another collector.

Wasco County Pony Express Period (1851-1864)

     The early pack trains, saddle trains, pony express, camel express etc. existed prior to the building of roads into the mining areas of old Wasco county. Roads fit to operate stages and freight wagons over with any degree of safety and dependability didn't seem to appear much before 1864; so we can safely credit the period from 1851 to 1864 as the Pony Express and Pack Train period in early Wasco County history. The pack and saddle trains came first. They contained anywhere up to 50 horses or mules. The pack trains carried the freight to the mines after river boats brought it as far up the Columbia as the "taking off point" required. A good pack animal could easily carry up to 200 pounds of food, flour, feed or freight items, tied and bound to their saddles; and such an animal was worth up to $500. The saddle trains carried the passengers or miners who didn't want to walk all the way to the mines. Miners soon found out, after the boat got into The Dalles, how long it would be until the next pack train was leav-ing for the gold fields and reserve a horse. They furnished their own blankets and slept out under the stars paying only for food and transportation. The first night out from The Dalles was generally spent at Fairbanks, on 15 mile creek, where they ate supper, washed clothes, bathed and turned the horses out to good green feed. Most, (not all) of the saddle trains were operated by Mexicans and their senoritas. The Mexicans pitched tents, unloaded the pack horses, rustled the fire wood while their senoritas did the cooking, washed the dishes, played music at night. These colorful ladies wore pants like their Mexican husbands, calf skin boots and Mexican sombreros; bargained with settlers for fresh food, milk or eggs which they paid for with gold dust or Mexican gold coins. It is interesting to note that there were enough Mexicans in The Dalles during that period of time to hold Sunday Bull Fights in an arena on the southeast corner of 4th and Liberty, where Elmor Bettingin's father Al used to watch them.


     It was in the fall of 1862 that Thomas H. Brents of Walla Walla established his famous Pony Express run from The Dalles to Canyon City. There were no ferries in those days across the John Day, Deschutes and other streams between here and Canyon City and bridges were unheard of. The whole country between The Dalles and Canyon City was infested with hostile Indians, outlaws who especially sought expressman as their victims. Mr. Brents tells about one of these trips to The Dalles when they arrived at a cross-ing of the John Day after dark and seeing a campfire rode into the camp to get permission to camp with them for the night to have further protection from Indian raiders. Imagine to our surprise when we looked into the fact of Berry Way, the most dreaded outlaw of the west, who, with his wife and a man had murdered a man on the Ochoco. The bandits welcomed the express messenger and asked if he carried much treasure? The messenger threw off the treasure sack carelessly to the ground and said, "No, its only mule shoes this time for a big pack train just down the river, coming in;" and he never touched the treasure sack again until morning. That night our expressman pretended to sleep but he lay all night in his blankets with revolvers in hand and the bandits allowed him to ride off in the morning! Berry Way was arrested soon after and hanged by vigilantes near Canyon City. On another night Brents outran a band of 4 outlaws who were led by the notorious Romaine. In 10 hours he traveled 112 miles! Mr. Brent was later County Clerk of Grant county and in 1868 married his school chum sweetheart Belle McGowan, later returning to Walla Walla where in 1878 he was congressman helping to make Washington a state. (Story by Rev. G.W. Kennedy of Walla Walla).

     Judge Thomas Brenz (1896) of the Walla Walla superior court, who celebrated his 70th birthday, founded the Pony Express between Canyon City and The Dalles in 1862. He charged 50¢ for letters and 3% for carry-ing treasure (gold dust) over the 225 mile route to The Dalles, packed by "road agents" (thieves) and bandits. The Judge was born at Florence, Ill. (1840) came to Oregon in 1852. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him postmaster at Canyon City and he was a legislator. (WPA clippings by L.S. Fritz; State Library). The Oregon Guide said, "There were 10,000 miners digging gold at Canyon City in 1862. The Pony Express galloped in 3 times a week from The Dalles 225 miles across desert, rivers, mountains and passing lurk-ing Indians and bandits." The Dalles and Canyon City in 1862 were the two largest cities in the Pacific northwest. As the mines gave out Canyon City population faded away but The Dalles population continued to make it the largest city in the northwest until about 1870 when Portland outgrew us. The Pioneer Miner and Mule Packer said, "In 1882 Brent & Nelson bought out Brindle & Jones in this area (Canyon City). Edgar & Burke operate from The Dalles to Canyon City. Rowe & Co. were in this area as was Tracy & co., and all were operating from The Dalles to Canyon City during the height of the Gold Rush." The Stamp Collectors' Philatelist (in the library of Edw. Payne of Salem) states, "Tracy & Co. operated from The Dalles to Canyon City a Pony Express in 1862 and also operated from The Dalles to Walla Walla on the same dates; and from The Dalles to Boise in 1863. The Dalles Express Co. was also mentioned during this date." The severe winter of 1862 made hay worth 40¢ a pound; grain 50¢ a pound; a mule was worth $250 to $400 and skinners wages were $100 to $125 a month with keep. Gold dust was legal tender.

PONY EXPRESS by Fred Lockley (Staff writer, Oregon Journal)

     It was in the spring of 1862 that Tom Brents and myself (N.F. Nelson of Brownsville) and Henry Hall found ourselves in Walla Walla broke. With 4 other miners we were the first to stake claims at Canyon City that spring. We made good wages and pretty soon Canyon Creek was well staked with camps at John Day and Canyon City. Tom Brents and I decided to start a Pony Express to The Dalles. I (N.F. Nelson) made the first trip. I started with another Express Rider, Enright by name but I beat him in. I reached The Dalles at 9 A.M. on the 4th of July 1862. That was the first Express trip ever made be-tween Canyon City and The Dalles. Tom Brents and I were partners for some time. We finally sold out for $1000. I then started a pack train with 19 horses. I hired 2 men to help me. On my 2nd trip I took in flour, sugar and some hardware. On the south fork of the John Day the Indians attacked us. John Espy was hit in the first fire and fell from his horse. My horse was shot through the body. Espy started to rise and a bullet knocked him flat. Ashley and I dismounted and pulled Espy back into the bushes and returned the Indian fire. He dropped one of them. Our pack train stampeded and the Indians drew off. Espy had 2 wounds, one bullet struck a rib and ran around under the skin and came out on the other side. He lost a good deal of blood but we fixed him up and with 3 horses left we went on to Canyon City. The Indians cut open the sacks of sugar and flour and threw them away. I sold what little I had left for $400 and went back to The Dalles where J.D. Robbins staked me to a load of flour. I took it to Eagle Creek and made a good profit.

     N.F. Nelson was regarded by some of the people of Brownsville (1920's) as a "nut" because he advocated that men ought to LIVE by the Golden Rule! He believed in running the government by love and not force. He believed that women were as smart as men and should have equal rights with men. He wanted to abolish liquor. "Sure", he told Lockley, "I know people think I am a nut because I want to love my fellow man no matter, what nationality they night be. Love will supplant greed. We shall live by the Golden Rule."

     Brent & Nelson charged 50¢ for letters from Canyon City to The Dalles and 30% for carrying gold dust. The route was 225 miles through deserts, rivers, creeks, over hills, mountains and in all kinds of weather and with roads infested with Indians and all kinds of bandits. (WPA Clippings by Louis Fritz of The Dalles; Archives department] Oregon State Library)


     The Stamp Collectors' Philatelist says, '"Tracy & Co. operated a Pony Express and mail service from The Dalles to Canyon City in 1882. The Oregon Guide stated, "By 1863 the number of miners digging gold at Canyon City had been reduced from 10,000 the previous year to 700 and that the discovery of gold in other fields practically depopulated Canyon City that winter. The hard winter of 1863 reduced the Pony Express service to twice a month. The Indians got so bad that a civilian guard company, under Nathan Olney of The Dalles, had to round up some of the bad Indians. We quote Louis Fritz of The Dalles again in the Oregon Writers Project at the Oregon State Library, "In the gold rush days of 1862-64 mail was carried on horseback from The Dalles to Canyon City, over Indian trails along the John Day river. The mail was strapped to the saddles of the daring horseback riders. Postage was 50¢ a letter and the newspapers they carried sold for $1. each. These riders carried thousands of dollars worth of gold dust. Hostile Indians and bandits imperiled the riders' lives and the narrow escapes and holdups were not uncommon; but the tradition prevailed; that the mail must go through; and the dangers were accepted as all of the part of the days work. When the competing Henry H. Wheeler stage coach company entered the field (1864) war began; and it is reported that the original companies, in a race with their competitor, once traveled to The Dalles, 225 miles, in 28 hours, with only the necessary changes of horses and riders."


     In 1922, the 60th anniversary of the discovery of gold, in Whiskey Gulch at Canyon City was celebrated by "Pony Express Riders" who re-enacted the old Pony Express ride from The Dalles to Canyon City. A water spout took place at Antelope which "threw cold water" on the ride, but it went through on a much slower schedule than the famous 28 hour-run of 1864. Horses were changed at Boyd, Nensene, Sherars Bridge, Shaniko, Antelope, Burnt Ranch, Mitchell and about every 20 miles from there to Canyon City.

    In 1924 the Pony Express ride from Bend to The Dalles was re-enacted "with all the formality and dignity of the 1860's." There were 5 entries in this race with 35 horses. The relay stations were at Prineville, Willow Creek, Bolter's ranch, Shaniko, Sherars Bridge, Nensene, Boyd and The Dalles. The riders were Ray Baxter, Summers Houston, Frank Houston, Jimmy Taylor and Roy Gray. They used standard bred horses. (Note: - the old Pony Express riders used California mustangs, and Indian cayuses.)


     The History of Grant County says, "Gold was discovered Oct. 18, 1861 on the north fork of the John Day river. The first pack trains from The Dalles to the mines were operated by J.W. Case, J.J. Cozart, and D.N. Luce. They were called "the Knights of Primeval Transportation." The trail from The Dalles to Canyon City was improved by Dalles merchants (see The Dalles to Boise Military road). They built a road used to bring supplies from The Dalles to Canyon City. Henry H. Wheeler established the first stage route (1864) and ran 4-horse coaches, with 8 changes of horses. His mail contract was for $12,000 a year. He also ran Wells Fargo fast Express Coaches, carrying only mail and guards, no passengers. Canyon City in 1863 had 31 business establishments. By Nov. of 1863 the "fall fights" in Canyon City commenced to start but discovery of gold in Malheur county depopulated Canyon City. In Feb. 1864 the Oregon Statesman reported no express service on account of bad weather. Miners were paid $5 a day. A 23 oz. gold nugget was found.


     Gold was discovered in 1860. I was admitted to the bar before I was 21 so I brought my law book and 2 six shooters and came out to the gold fields. There was not much gold to be found and nobody was interested in law, so I became a Pony Express rider and Mail Carrier from Walla Walla to Millersburg, Idaho (1861). I rode early and late and almost lived in the saddle as a Pony Express rider between Walla Walls and Grangerville in Idaho. A Lapwai Indian and myself followed the Indian trail across the Craig mountain and Camas Prairie. Idaho in those days was known as E-dah-hoe an Indian word signifying "light on the mountains". I spelled it Idaho in my writings and that may have gave it first use in print. Our service was simple express carrying service with cheap equipment comparing in no way with the costly and elaborate Pony Express from St. Joe to Sacramento. The job was frill of hardships, perils, long riding hours, day and night work in all kinds of weather with desperate as well as good men on the trails. I changed horses from 5 to 10 times daily; rode at desperate speeds using Indian ponies only, without any escort. We called ourselves Mossman & Millers Pony Express. The Indians were numerous but we weren't afraid of them, but of the whites we were. The Indians were peaceful. We hired them to tend our stations. They were of the Nez Perce tribes. The Pony Express did not pay even though we practically LIVED on horseback, with little food and less sleep the first few months!

     California emptied her miners, gamblers, robbers and desperados right into our mines and roads thither. The rivers were closed with ice that winter, the Snake being icebound at Lewiston. The miners wanted to get their money and letters to Walla Walla and to friends and families. The snow was deep in the Idaho mountains. The trails were drifted full. It was a question of whether any living man could face those conditions, make that ride and live to tell about it! They asked the Indians to try. They refused to do so. I started out (1860-81) with letters and $10,000 in gold weighing 50 pounds, to Walla Walla. Dave English and Boone Helm two California desperados followed me with the evident intention of robbing and possibly killing me for the gold I carried. I noted Canada Joe, worst of the killers of the west, far ahead of me up the trail, in the blizzard.

     I was able to keep ahead of my pursuers. The problem was to get around Canada Joe. He had 3 six shooters strapped around him. I knew he would use them. Our horses continued to flounder up the mountain. I noted Joe was heading for a blocked off narrow place in the trail to make his stand against my approach. I couldn't turn back as English and Holm were back there in that blizzard and couldn't be eluded. I noted ahead, where the trail leveled off, that I was nearing the top of the mountain, so I struck out in a new direction. Canada Joe seen this and opened fire on me but his chilled hands and body were too unsteady. His bullets whizzed about us but we were soon lost in the blizzard and made good time on top of the mountain and down the other side. We eluded our pursuer and made it safely to Walla Walla. (Junior Historical Journal 1941; State Library, Salem.)


     The most spectacular and perilous ride ever undertaken by any Pony Express rider of the Pacific Northwest was made from The Dalles to Fort Benton, Mont. in the fall of 1855. The Yakima Indian war had broke out and the Indians north of the Columbia were killing all the whites. Governor Issac Stevens and 24 men were near Fort Benton. The news of the Indian uprising had to be sent to him lest he and his party be wiped out. W.H. PEARSON of The Dalles was chosen to make that memorial 650 mile Pony Express ride with dispatches from The Dalles to Fort Benton. He rode out of The Dalles well mounted and all day and all night brought him to Wm. McKay's ranch on the Umatilla river. It was deserted. He caught a new mount, sprang into the saddle just as blood curdling yells of the savages "kill that white man, kill that white man" rang in his ears. He tore up the valley, they in hot pursuit, but he out-distanced them and by night he turned off the trail taking a parallel course some miles distant. Riding and resting in secluded spots he reached Lapwai mission. After a days rest he pushed on over the Bitter Root mountains in a blinding snow storm. A tree fell and crushed his Nez Perce Indian companion. The trail was buried under several feet of snow. Unable to go any further on horse he improvised snowshoes from brush frames and strands from his rawhide lariat; then packing his blankets and dried meat he struggled onward over the snow. After 4 days he came to the Bitter Root valley near Fort Owen. With rest and a new horse 3 days more brought him to the governor's camp on the Teton. He was so faint and exhausted they had to lift him out of the saddle but he carried out his orders and delivered his messages to Gov. Stevens in one of the most remarkable and outstanding Pony Express rides ever recorded in the history of the west. (Junior Historical Journal; Oregon State Library; Salem)


     A flag designed by Perry Driggs will flutter from the grave of Chas. Backer, Pony Express Rider of 1860-61 on the Wyoming Section of the St. Joe to Sacramento Pony Express run, according to Walter Meacham of the Old Oregon Trail Association. Mr. Backer died at Baker, Oregon in 1925 at age 89. He was buried near Westfall, Malheur county. The flag is white, with a dark blue Pony Express Rider at full gallop, as the center figure; and diagonal bars of red and blue (with white in between). Mr. Baker always wore cowboy boots and whenever he went anywhere he carried saddle bags, in the place of a suitcase. He is the only known Pony Express Rider buried in Oregon (who rode on the St. Joe to Sacramento run).

THE PONY EXPRESS (St. Joe to Sacramento) by W.H. McNeal

     The greatest of all American horse stories to the romantic account of the famous St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif. Port' Express, prompted by the gold rush of 100 years ago, and operated from 1859 to 1861 toy the stage coach firm of Mayors, Russel & Waddell. The relay horse stations on this famous line followed the stage coach stations between St. Joe and Salt Lake City, but in the wilderness between Salt Lake and Sacramento other relay stations every 10 to 12 miles had to be erected. The Pony Express out the "boat time of 21 days down toll days from New York to San Francisco. This was a definite milestone in the progress of mail service linking the U.S. with the newly acquired territory from Mexico in the war of 1846.

     The Pony Express riders and their famous California mustangs covered the 2000 mile gap between St. Joe and Sacramento, in 8 days altho the Lincoln Proclamation message freeing the slaves was carried in 7 days in 1881! The 8 day schedule meant that the mail had to keep moving at the rate of 250 miles during each 24 hour period, in each direction. This sustained day and night schedule has always been considered an outstanding record in American horsemanship, unsurpassed by any other known record of sustained endurance by either horse or rider in all the known history of world horsemanship. It is an unchallenged record of world importance. The U.S. government has officially recognized this record by authorizing the post office department to use the Pony Express rider and his mount as its official insignia. The firm acquired 500 of these mustangs, direct descendants of the Cortez Arabians, noted for their remarkable running endurance lowers and ability to live on the native grasses. Daily they ran a race against time at a dead heat gallop, not for just a half a mile, like present day horses, but for 10 and 15 miles without a stop or rest periods there were 190 of these relay stations manned by 200 station tenders. The ponies were carefully selected for their speed which had to average 25 miles an hour or betters. Such mad dashes caused their nostrils to dilate and their bodies, to be covered with sweat and foam.

     To ride these 500 ponies required 80 of the toughest and hardest riding horseman that the American nation has ever produced. Each man, had to average 25 miles per day EACH WAY, or 50 miles per day of riding at a dead gallop much of the way! Most of the riders rode from 80 to 100 miles a day while the "long rides" were up to 140 miles per day! The schedule called for riding from 30 to 45 miles traveling east; then rest and warm up and eat and be ready to meet the west bound rider and ride right back again, day or night, rain, snow, blizzard or shine, summer, fall, spring or winter; the same ride each way every 24 hours, no sundays or saturday afternoons off, Christmas or other holidays and often in emergencies, riders would cover the, next man's division too, without any rest or sleep! For this daily "Olympic contest" the rider received $125 a month! Pony Express riders had to be light in weight, have a wiry constitution, be fearless cool thinkers in moments of danger, be single and able to stand hard riding in all kinds of weather. Both human and horse flesh were taxed to the full limit by the weather, canyons, mountains, unbridged streams, lonely prairies, savage Indians to say nothing of accidents hundreds of miles from medical help. Riders were recruited from guides, scouts, couriers, miners, adventurers, men who were used to sleeping in the hay and living off what game the country had to offer. The rail stations were log, mud or stone forts and corrals. Some divisions were 20 to 40 miles apart without a drop of water in between."

     The mail pouches were made of rainproof leather, strapped to the saddle, and weighed not more than 20 pounds. In addition, the letters were wrapped in silk and sealed, not to be opened between St. Joe and Sacramento. The 1etter rate was $5 a ½ oz., but even at those rates the venture was never profitable. The Pony Express was, wiped out by the introduction of the telegraph in 1861.

     Russel, Majors & Waddell operated their first stage coach line from Omaha to Denver, 600 miles in 8 days, starting May 17, 1,859. They had 1000 horses and mules on this freight and stage coach divis-ion. Service was later extended to Salt Lake City 1100 miles on a 10 day trip from St. Joe. Still later the service was extended to Carson City, Nev., Placerville, Folsom and Sacramento, 1900 miles in 15 days. All their efforts were operated at a loss and in March 1862 they sold to Ben Holiday. Holiday was a better politician and the government gave him $800,000 for carrying mail across the U.S. which Russel, Majors & Waddell did not receive. Sen Holiday in 1868 sold to Wells Fargo Express Co. for $1,500,000 cash and $1,250,000 in Wells Fargo, stock in addition to $600,000 for hay, grain, and provisions on hand. (In 1952 dollars this sale would be $13,400,000). This sale enabled Holiday to become a famous railroad and steamship man.

Buffalo Bill Cody

     The most famous of all the individual Pony Express riders on the St. Joe to Sacramento run was none other than our beloved frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody. Many books and articles have been written on Cody's life, but no chapter of his eventful life had any more romance and excitement than his routine Pony Express riding. Cody was so well liked that he was made a "supernumery rider", or one who went out only on special occasions and calls. To have this high honor aid trustworthy designation bestowed upon him by the management was about the same as a CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR for it indicated Buffalo Bill Cody was regarded as the greatest individual horseman that America has ever produced! He told his employers he was "born in the saddle" and was a mere boy of 17 when he hired out. Division Supt. Slade thought hard riding like the Pony Express required would "shake the insides out of Cody" but he lived to become their greatest rider. At Cody, Wyoming, at the east entrance to Yellowstone Park, a monument has been erected to the memory of this great frontiersman, mail carrier, stage coach driver, guide, Indian fighter and Pony Express rider; and to his mount, "the fastest the company owned" in the Pony Express service. This is truly a monument erected to the memory of the GREATEST HORSEMAN IN AMERICA and to AMERICA'S GREATEST HORSE. (Western Horseman, Colorado Springs, Colorado; December 1951 issue).


     As related in the St. Joe to Sacramento Pony Express article Russel, Majors & Waddell sold their St. Joe to Sacramento stagecoach line to Ben Holliday in 1862. In 1864 Ben Holliday bought all new stage coaches from Abbott & Downing and the fastest of livestock and best of drivers was put on this run. He installed cutoffs and let out "side bid contracts" and lengthened his line to Fort Hall, Idaho and to Montana points. His ads of Dec. 3, 1864 proclaimed service from Achison, Kan. to Placer-ville, Cal. and connections with Ft. Hall, Walla Walla, Umatilla and The Dalles. He sub-contracted the run from Fort Hall to The Dalles via Boise, Baker, Umatilla to John Hailey and Greathouse who consolidated and bought out (1865) the Thomas Express and Stage Co. which gave them a monopoly in addition to the mail contract. The distance from The Dalles to Salt Lake City over this route was considered to be 1000 miles (it felt like 2000 miles to passengers) and the fare was $240 one way to Salt Lake City and $300 from there to Atchison, Kan. A roundtrip stage ticket was worth $1000. By 1866 the service was made daily from The Dalles to Salt Lake City. Ben Holliday was at that time known as the "Napoleon of the West." His mail contracts amounted to $800,000 a year, but his expenses were tremendous. He had to have stage stations every 10 to 12 miles, depending on water and local conditions, with "way stations" every 50 miles where passengers stayed over night. Each station had to have its tender, hay, horses, corrals, supplies and all these items had to be hauled hundreds of miles by teams and wagons. In one year alone he lost $1,500,000 to Indian raiders alone.

     By 1866 Ben Holliday got tired of all these losses and problems in connection with the operations of his vast fleet of stages and horses and freight wagons so he sold out to Wells Fargo for a million and a half dollars cash and 500,000 shares of Wells Fargo stock who dominated the transportation field of the west until the building of the Union Pacific railroad (1869-70) to the junction with the Central Pacific at Promontory Point. The coming of the railroad eliminated the trans-continental stage lines and freight wagon lines. The U.P. railroad had its own Union Express Co. but Wells Fargo bought this concession (1869) for $5,000,000.

     The Dalles to Salt Lake City branch of the Wells Fargo Stage and Express lines dominated the field for a while but gradually competition entered the field and remained until the extension of the Oregon Short Line railroad to Hunington (1884) where it joined with the O.R. & N. Co. Gov. Zenith Moody and other prominent Dalles business men have been agents of Wells Fargo at different times in the history of The Dalles. (Oregon County by O.B. Winters; Oregon State Library, Salem).

     The History of Idaho by Gilbert mentions weekly stage service between Boise and The Dalles by July of 1863 on a line operated by Henry Greathouse (sub-contractor of Ben Holliday). Other operators mentioned were the Oregon Idaho Stage Co.; Ward & Co. Fare was $100 for 285 miles. Ben Holliday's Overland Stage Line secured the contract from The Dalles to Salt Lake via Boise (675 miles) and used Concord coaches in good weather (1864) and regular mud wagons for winter and early spring driving. One of the passengers enroute from Salt Lake to The Dalles remarked, "the Paradise Valley stage stop was misnamed as it had nothing but snakes and nothing that would indicate any kind of a paradise." Relay stations on The Dalles to salt Lake run were about 15 miles apart with the interval or way stations for passenger stops every 50 miles. The first stage arrived in Boise Aug. 11, 1864.


     As indicated above in 1866 Wells Fargo took over the run from Salt Lake City to The Dalles.


     In 1868 C.M. Lockwood of The Dalles under bid Wells Fargo and in October of that year he went on The Dalles to Salt Lake City ran in addition to his Dalles to Carson City and Dalles to Walla Walla runs. He was a big man in the transportation field in The Dalles at that time and made hundreds of thousands of dollars. John Hailey was one of his sub-contractors and manager of part of his Salt Lake lines. Lockwood's contract was for 21 months and during that time he worked day and night; in fact he worked himself into a paralyzed physical condition until we see in 1869 that John Hailey was given part of the contract and in July 1870 the line was sold to the Northwest Stage Co. who operated it until 1674 when the Boise and Rocky Bar line took over John Hailey handled the contract for the Northwest Stage Co. This would indicate that John Hailey was a very able and outstanding man in the transportation field at that time. (Art Ferrel, R.4, Boise, Idaho). Obituary in Times-Mountaineer of The Dalles, Feb. 1873 on C. M. Lockwood---

     C.M. Lockwood of The Dalles died of paralysis at Detroit, Mich. He was a man of great energy and determination. In 1863 he started freighting between The Dalles and Canyon City with a team of cattle. In a few years he monopolized all the freighting business. In 1866-67 he, with Teal and Goldsmith, took large government contracts and made much money. He contracted for the mails and stages from Salt Lake City to The Dalles, 800 miles, and made several hundred thousand dollars, but in doing so he wore himself out, as he was only 38 at the time of his death. He was a fine gentleman, reported by all. He leaves a widow and 2 children (Ludy died the following July).


     Kelton, Utah became the terminus for the Oregon, Idaho, Utah Stage Co. (1669-1884) which was a closer point on the Union Pacific railroad than Salt Lake. Mail service from the east was reduced from 23 days via boats to Calif. and Astoria to 14 days by rail aid stage from Kelton to The Dalles, according to the Times-Mountaineer of The Dalles. The Mountaineer of Dec. 14, 1866 said the first mail from Salt Lake City was carried in buggies on a weekly schedule and that Ben Holliday's contract was by boat from Portland to The Dalles (sub-contracted) and sub-contracted from The Dalles to Boise to John Hailey for $80,000 a year. There were other lines running from Umatilla to Salt Lake and from Walla Walla to Salt Lake.


     Both The Dalles to Wa11a Walla, and The Dalles to Salt Lake Stage Lines as well as The Dalles to Umatilla, used the Old Oregon Trail which followed up the Brewery grade and out to Cherry Park Grange, on the east 9 street section of the Old Durum road where it branched to the left across the Bettengin Flat connecting with what is now highway 23 at the old M.M. Cushing place (now occupied by Joe Re); following up 15 miles to Kuykendahl hill where it branched at the top and went down to Fairbanks; from there to Silos-on-the Deschutes (Dechutesville or Miller); to Biggs; Price's Station (just north of Wasco) on Spanish Hollow; Leonard's Bridge; 19 miles south of the Columbia on the John Day river at the foot of Cottonwood grade and also known as Scotts Ferry, thence to Rock creek about 7 miles south of Arlington; to Willow creek at Cecil; Wells Springs; Frank Ewing's station on Butter creek; Umatilla or to Echo (Brassfield's ferry), and on to Walla Walla or to Salt Lake City.

     Sometimes these three stages were one and the same, in so far as passengers were concerned. Passengers to any one of the above 3 places took the same stage. The Walla Walla stage and most of the others, when the ran as independent units generally stopped at Umatilla as that was an important boat landing and source of passengers; mail, express and such business. From there they followed the Umatilla river to Echo (12 Mile house); Wells Stage Gulch; Swifts; Pendleton (branch for Walla Walla); Cayuse, Meacham, LaGrande; Sulphur Springs; 49 Ranch; Boise; Ft. Hall; Kelton and Salt Lake City.


     Henry Ward advertised in the Times-Mountaineer (1867) that he operated his stage line between The Dalles and Umatilla in less time than the boats could make the run and called his service "the air line route of 80 miles," and solicited business from the Oregon Steam Navigation Co. and extended his services to Walla Walla 125 miles east of The Dalles.


     Another of these forgotten, 1866 stage lines was the Oregon-Montana which made connections with the Oregon Steam Nav. Co. boats at White Bluffs, Wash. for services to Helena, Montana over the well known Lt. John Mullen pass, now used by highway 10 and the Northern Pacific railroad across the Rockies. This line served the northern Idaho mines and it was 624 miles over this route to Virginia City, Mont. Capt. John Mullen was sent to Walla Walla in 1853 with military orders to build a road (which he previously surveyed as a Lieutenant) from that place to Fort Benton on the Missouri river approximately 700 miles for use of emigrants in place of the 2000 mile Old Oregon Trail. He built this road as directed and Bancroft's history of Oregon says; "next to the Old Oregon Trail the Mullen road was the greatest factor in the development of the Pacific northwest." Many hundreds of emigrants used this road in the settlement of Idaho, eastern Wash. over this old stage and mail route run from Walla Walla to Virginia City and other Montana and northern Idaho points.


     The JOHN TURNER obituary in the Mountaineer of Oct. 23, 1868 said, "John Turner driver on The Dalles to Walla Walla stage, whose outfit upset going down John Day hill (Cottonwood Canyon) died of injuries received last week." This is mute testimony of how tough that job was 64 years ago.

     Bill Nixon, operator of the Nixon ferry across the Deschutes 3 miles above Millers, according to Carson C. Masiker, drove a sulky with the mail and few winter passengers on the Nixon Ferry to Leonard's Ferry across the John Day, section of The Dalles to Walla Walla run. (This shows how service was maintained when regular equipment could not be operated due to weather and road conditions.)


     In passing we want to add a paragraph on the old Camel Express, forgotten by all but historians. It operated in various sections of Idaho and Montana; but the run we are interested in was from Walla Walla to Virginia City over the Mullen Trail (1859) a long 700 mile pack. Another operated between Umatilla and Boise and the Bannock mines. Camels for these pack trains were imported from Asia and sold for $1200 each. They could carry larger loads than horses and over longer distances without feed or water; but when they did eat they consumed more food than a horse which was bad when it had to be bought at high prices in the winter; but their worst disadvantage was that they frightened the horses and mules of other pack trains, causing stampedes and run-a-ways. (Wash. Hist. Quarterly) Wagons replaced the camel in a year or so and their history was brief and labeled "unsuccessful".


     Some of the well known drivers on The Dalles to Salt Lake run was our own Justin Chenowith, after whom Chenowith creek was named; Barnes & Yates of the Oregon-Idaho stages; Hank Monk most widely known driver on all the lines; Baldy Green; Billy Hamilton; Clark Foss; Buck Jones; Chas. McConnell; "Buffalo Jim" Geiser (on the Yellowstone Park run); Bob Hill; Henry Ward; Buck Montgomery; Hill Beachy; Bob Geiser (also on the Yellowstone run); George Quimsby; Dave Horn; Wm. Ellis; C.W. Barger; Tom Vaughn; Wm. Glover; Gus Freeman; Dave Wright; John Leeson; George Richards; Jerry Crowder; Jack Gillman; Chas. Hines; Wm. Lockwood; Wm. Theelman. James Perkins was the "traveling horseshoer" for Ben Holliday and the Wells Fargo lines and he lived wherever they "dropped his anvil off at." Big Bill Lockwood was later one of the drivers in the Bannock Indian war campaign of 1878 in southern Oregon and the soldiers used to like to tell how Bill raced with the Indians in his mail and express wagon, and how his long jet black hair would stand up like a pompadour until he was safe from the scalping knife.

     These stage drivers had no homes, for the most part. It was a cold, rough, hard ride every single trip when conditions were at their best. They slept out in all kinds of weather, fog, snow, blizzards, summer and winter alike. The roads they drove over were hardly better than cattle trails. It was dirty, dusty rough work in the summer and cold, muddy, numbing work in the fall and winter. All the romance of stage coach driving is purely fiction of the highest movie and western magazine type.


     Dearest and closest to the hearts of the people of The Dalles is The Dalles to Canyon City Stage Line. In 1864 when Henry H. Wheeler (after whom Wheeler county is named) started this line The Dalles and Canyon City were the two largest cities in the Pacific northwest, hither-to-fore served only by pack trains out of The Dalles. Henry Wheeler was a resident of Mitchell, one of the important pack train stations and stops, where he operated a stock ranch. While there is no written record of how he became interested in forming the first stage service, it is very apparent that Pony Express riders and operators obtained riding stock from his ranch as did the Pack Train operators, so he was naturally well versed with the volume of business passing through Mitchell; and with the improvement of roads by military, authorities to Camp Watson and other points in south-eastern Oregon he decided to establish twice a week service commencing August 15, 1884.


     The stage stations on this run which went out over the Old Dufur road to Eight Mile station; (Wasco) 11 Mile house, kept by Pratts just above Boyd; Nansene; up Long Hollow about 7 miles above Boyd; Chicken Springs; Keen; Sherar's Bridge; Flanagan; Bakeoven; Shaniko; Antelope; Burnt Ranch; Mitchell; Camp Watson; Dayville; John Day and Canyon City. The names of the stage stations and their locations changed from time to time. When Mr. Wheeler first started out in 1864 there was no habitation between The Dalles and Sherar's Bridge 30 miles southeast of The Dalles! Then there was no more people until he got to Antelope where Howard Maupin kept a horse station for him 65 miles SE of The Dalles! James Clark, one of his drivers, kept a station down on the John Day called Burnt Ranch. There were people living at Mitchell and there was a military camp at Camp Watson but from there on into John Day it was a long lonesome road infested with bandits and unfriendly Indians. It took 2½ days to make the run and twice a week was the first schedule. The road was one of the worst rocky, rough mountain roads that a man ever tried to put anything with wheels over. In fact it wasn't considered possible to successfully do so until the military authorities moved enough rocks to allow a wagon to pass and keep right side up.

     The History of Central Oregon says that Henry H. Wheeler was born in Penn. (1826) son of James and went to California gold fields in 1857 by ox-train where he mined and operated a sawmill at Yreka. In 1862 he came to The-Dalles and went to the mines of Idaho. He gave up mining for stock raising in the Mitchell country and established his 180 mile stage, mail and express service in 1884. He drove the first few trips all the way through himself and return. He had 11 passengers on that first run and 11 on the return trip and his fare was $40. a passenger, one way. He left the Umatilla House every Monday and Wednesdays with his stages. The stock ranches were few and far apart on the route and operations were under the most trying of pioneer conditions of hardships and dangers with bandits and savage Indians on all sides. Mr. Wheeler was a careful and fearless manager. If a detailed account of all his various fights and skirmishes with the Indians were listed they would make a thrilling volume in themselves. One account was published, "that upon Sept. 7, 1866, with the Wells Fargo gold stage and their guard Mr. H.C. Page the only passengers on the gold stage; and with $10,000 in greenbacks, $300 in coin and other valuables besides the mail, when suddenly 15 or 20 Indians appeared and shot Mr. Wheeler through the face. Despite the shock and pain, he unhitched the leaders, while Mr. Page pumped hot lead into the Indians and kept them back; they mounted the un-ridden horses and, escaped, bareback! The Indians cut all the top off the stage, ripped open the snail sacks scattering their contents and throwing aside the greenbacks, not knowing their value; but they cut up the harness. Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Page went on to the Myers ranch for help to recover what they could out of the raid, while Mr. Wheeler came on to The Dalles for medical attention.


     Mr. Wheeler had lost 89 horses and other property to Indian raiders, some led by the renegade Chief Paulina. The Central Oregon Shopper of Prineville (Aug. 4, 1949) at the Oregon State Library on the killing of Chief Paulina says:

     Chief Paulina was killed in 1867 by Howard Maupin, keeper of a stage station on The Dalles to Canyon City stage route at Antelope. In 1866, at another stage station in Trout Creek near Ashwood Chief Paulina's band stole some horses, used on the stage line, from him and the stage company and from James Clark, a driver on that section of the run between Antelope and Mitchell. Thus both of these employees were on the lookout for Paulina and his band who were freely stealing horses and cattle whenever and wherever they could. So on that eventful morning in 1867 when Mr. Clark spotted the Indians in the Burnt Ranch section of the run, which took its name from a fire set by the Indians to James Clark's property there; so he (Clark) turned the stage around and drove back to Maupin's place and told him the Indians were passing through from Clarno, where they had stole some cattle from Andrew Clarno, and were headed toward the Deschutes river, and that was the opportunity to give the raiders a dose of their own medicine. Clark and Maupin started out on their saddle horses, with rifles, to find and follow the raiders. The Indians had a band of 25 head of cattle and horses so were not hard to follow. They trailed them to their Trout Creek camp, eluding the Indian lookouts. They dismounted in a secluded location and crawled up as close to the camp as they could and opened fire with their rifles. One Indian fell mortally wounded. The rest scattered into the nearby bushes and fled to the hills on foot leaving everything behind. Coming into the camp Clark pumped some more lead into the Indian until he was dead and went on to search for more as likewise Maupin did. Being unsuccessful they returned to Camp, scalped the Indian, rounded up the livestock and drove them back to the Antelope ranch station. It was not until later, after examining articles picked up in the Indian camp that they determined that Chief Paulina was the Indian they had killed and scalped. This was later confirmed by other Indians at Warm Springs where some of Paulina's followers took refuge."

     The killing of the renegade Chief Paulina by Howard Maupin and James N. Clark put an and to most of The Dalles to Canyon City Stage station and stage stock robberies and taught the Indians "to leave the property of the white men's stages alone or he would trail them down and shoot to kill with his high powered rifles." The elimination of Chief Paulina and his followers made the country more safe for settlement, between The Dalles and Canyon City and for that reason we classify Howard Maupin and James N. Clark among the most outstanding men in the 100 years of Wasco county history; and Henry H. Wheeler is given the same classification because he pioneered stage and freight service by wagons also helping to settle the country, The Dalles to Canyon City stage line service produced 3 of the most outstanding men in our history, a very remarkable record for one business or organization. Howard Maupin died at Ashwood, Oregon Jan. 4, 1887 and is buried not far from the grave of the Indian Chief Paulina. Henry Wheeler is buried at Mitchell where he engaged in the stock raising business until his retirement in 1904.

     Mr. Wheeler used the "lever coaches" rather than the famous Concords which were used later. He left the Umatilla House, as stated above, on his first trips every Monday and Wednesdays. Later the service became daily and Wells Fargo gold stage coaches were put on the run, which hauled nothing but gold and the one or more guards besides the driver. These were the fast stages and some drivers preferred them in place of passenger, mail and express stages, for they only stopped long enough to change horses, grab a bite to eat and were off again in a cloud of dust or a splatter of mud. The winter time stations were Pratt's 12 mile house (Wasco above Boyd); Nansene, up Long Hollow; Sherar's Bridge on the Deschutes; Bakeoven; Howard Maupin's at Antelope; James N. Clark's Burnt Ranch stage stop on the John Day; Mitchell; Mountain on Murder's Creek; Dayville and Canyon City. There were ordinarily 8 changes or horses during good weather but weather, Indians, road conditions all made alternate stage stops as conditions varied. From The Dalles to Bakeoven was the first days run. The second day was Mitchell and the third day Canyon City but even this schedule varied. S.L. Brooks was agent in The Dalles in 1867 with headquarters at the Umatilla House. Mr. Wheeler's first mail contract was for $12,000 a year. He sold to Ad. Edgar in 1868, retiring to his stock farm at Mitchell. In 1864 Edgar Jones operated a stage and express line over this same route to Canyon City but it was a slower service and merged later into a freight line.


     Ad Edgar's advertisements appeared in the Sept. 14, 1867 edition of the Times-Mountaineer which said, "the U.S. Mail from The Dalles to Canyon City, operated by Ad Edgar & Co., leaves every Tuesday morning at the Umatilla House. His ad of March 11, 1871 said service had been extended from Canyon City to Boise and left every Monday morning from the Umatilla House. While the History of Central Oregon said Mr. Wheeler sold to Ad Edgar in 1868 it was apparent that he at least took charge of the operation of the lines in 1867 although he may not have completed ownership until 1868.

     The next change in ownership was to Edgar Smith, as shown by Times-Mountaineer ads. The archive files of the Oregon State Library, compiled by Louis Fritz of The Dalles for the State Historical Society said, "Edgar Smith sub-let to J.H. Marshbanks for conveying the U.S. Mails from July 1, 1874 to June 30, 1878, between The Dalles and Canyon City; one trip a week was to pay $4000 a year; 2 trips a week $6400 a year and 3 trips a week $8660 per year." Cyrus Butler and H.C. Matney were later operators of this line.

     The Shaniko Leader of 1902 said, "G.M. Cornett was the contractor in 1876 for carrying the U.S. Mail by stage from Mitchell, where he lived at the time to Antelope. Since that time he has made the carrying of the mail a specialty and is today (1902) one of the largest and best known contractors in eastern Oregon." This indicates the run was contracted out in units, rather than the complete thru service that Wheeler and Edgar employed.


     January 25, 1867 Buchanan & Co. announced stage service and an express line from The Dalles to Canyon City, with all new Concord Stage coaches; with C.M. Lockwood as Prop. and the competing fare was reduced to $30 one way. That same year there was a new road built from Leonard's Bridge, at the foot of Cottonwood Canyon in Shaman county, to Canyon City, according to the Jan. 18, 1867 issue of the Mountaineer. The new road was claimed to have out off 50 miles between The Dalles and Canyon City and the Buchanan Co. may have operated over this route for part of the time which was one of the factors which caused Henry Wheeler to sell out to Edgar. C. M. Lockwood started out as a freight wagon operator, now we see him as agent for Buchanan & Co. and later we see him owner and operator of The Dalles to Salt Lake Stage line. He was a very remarkable man in the transportation field and had he not died at the youthful age of 38 he would have no doubt become one of the most outstanding men in our county history. (He has been classified as one of our most outstanding men.)


     Burnt Ranch (1864) was 30 miles SE of Shaniko on the John Day river was operated by Jim Clerk, a driver on The Dalles to Canyon City run, who with J.H. Ward homesteaded the ranch, built a cabin, cut native hay and established a stage station for Henry Wheeler and others. While Ward & Clark were out gathering wood, one day, the Indians made a raid on the ranch, burned the buildings. After that raid the place was known as Burnt Ranch. Ward saved himself by hiding in the water while Clark went for help. Ward was badly chilled but saved by the rescue party altho he was never able to do much work afterwards. The ranch buildings were replaced and Clark and his wife continued to live there for a number of years. It was later owned by Eliza Stephens. It was established as a post office in Wasco county (1862) with Francis Parley first postmaster. It is now listed on postal records as being in Wheeler county.


     Camp Watson, on The Dalles to Canyon City stage run, was half way between Mitchell and Antone in Wheeler county. It was an important stage stop, well known by miners and soldier. It got its name from Lt. Stephen Watson who was killed by Chief Paul1na and his renegade Indian band in 1864, in a battle in which Bennett Kennedy and Hames Harkins were also killed and 7 others wounded. The battle was known as "the Crooked River Expedition" sent out to chastise the hostile Indians. It was reported that Lt. Watson was not an experienced Indian fighter and neither were his men, some of which became separated from the main party and 11 casualties were reported. This camp was established to cope with Indian raiders and helped to keep down some killing. Dr. Wm. Shackelford, well known and beloved family physician of The Dalles was camp surgeon at Camp Watson for a time.

     Other well known stops in that part of the country were Wallaces at Current creek; Suttons at Bridge Creek; Myers at Alkali; Allan & Stone at Mountain; Boyds at Rock creek; Brackets at Cottonwood. The Oregon City Statesman reported in 1865 that Henry H. Wheeler, upon being awarded the U.S. Mail contract Jan. 16, 1865, purchased a crack Concord Stage Coach from Hey & Co. of Portland for The Dalles to Canyon City mail and express run. Mail service was established Feb. 1888. March 12 the Statesman reported Indians stole 24 head of horses at the Muddy creek ranch from The Dalles to Canyon City Stage Line. (Oregon Historical Society).

     In 1888 C.M. Lockwood took a mortgage from Ad Edgar, operator of The Dalles to Canyon City stage line, on 24 stage horses, one 8 passenger coach used for carrying U.S. Mail and passengers; and which mortgage is filed with the county clerk of Wasco county. (Louis Fritz of The Dalles; Writers Project; Archive files, Oregon State Library, Salem).


     WASCO COUNTY COMPLAINT, 1872: Frank Thompkins, Wm. H. Bramlette and F. Huston, white defendants, and H.J. Waldron, Dalles postmaster, plaintiff; CHARGE:- Robbing the U.S. Mail and putting the lives of persons in charge in jeopardy. PLACE:- Antelope Canyon, on The Dalles to Canyon City road. Ad. W. Edgar, driver of the stage. (Oregon Historical Society).


     We are indebted to our old friend and only known living stage coach driver in Wasco County, Jess M. Gray, of Friend, The Dalles and now of Mosier, for the history of the final days of The Dalles to Canyon City stage run under Hugh Jackson, contractor from 1899 until it was disbanded in 1910 upon completion of the railroads up the Deschutes. During those final years it was a daily run, leaving the Umatilla House, following the Old Dufur road through 8 Mile, Boyd, Nansene, Chicken Springs, Keen, Sherars Bridge, Flanagan, Bakeoven and Shaniko. From Shaniko G.M. Cornett took the run to Antelope, Burnt Ranch, Ashwood, Mitchell where another contractor went on to Canyon City. In bad weather Mr. Grey changed horses at Boyd, Nansene; Sherars Bridge, Bakeoven and nighted at Shaniko. In good weather one team would make it clear through altho it was a long dust 58 miles in the summer and a cold muddy or snowy ride in the winter and fall months. They would have to bundle up in sheep skin clothing until they could hardly move and still their bodies was chilled through and through by the cold east wind or the pelting rains or blinding snows that bore down upon them without mercy. In the final years the ranches, along the route were served by "socks" or small pouches, hung by a clothes pin near the farm gates, and Mr. Gray, like other experienced drivers, could wrap his black-snake whip around the sock and draw it over to the stage without having to stop! He could cut a rattlesnake in two, with his whip, at 12 feet distance without stopping! He never wrecked a stage nor injured a passenger on the perilous grades often covered with snow and ice. They used Concord coaches when traffic was heavy and common 2 horse hacks when it was light. He said, "my service on The Dalles to Canyon City and The Dalles to Wapinitia stage lines was intermittent. During the spring and summer I operated my own freight line from Shaniko to Central Oregon and during the fall and winter I drove for Mr. Jackson. At times our passenger list contained some pretty hard looking men but I was never held up or molested. On the freighting runs to Prineville, Burns, Silver Lake, Bend or Lakeview I generally hauled merchandise, farm supplies, machinery, lumber, nails, liquor, clothing. No runs were made for any particular outfit or business concern. On the return trips we brought back wool, hides, wheat, meat and other farm products. It was hard work, always away from home, exposed to all types of weather, muddy and boggy roads, snow, ice or dust, break downs, sick horses, broken harness, wagons or equipment; wagons sliding off the roads; dry camps without water, sleeping out under the stars; poor food or none at all; run-away teams which would beak up the wagons and scatter the merchandise. It was a hard life even when conditions were at their best. Most of the drivers were hard drinkers of bad liquor and lived short lives."


     Jess M. Gray, last of our pioneer stage coach and freight wagon drivers was born (1883) at Alkali (Arlington) Oregon; son of James L. & Susan (Hurst) Gray. He started out at 16 as a driver for Mr. Jackson on The Dalles to Shaniko run. He soon acquired enough to buy his own team and wagon for the summer freighting ventures, as outlined above. When The Dalles to Canyon City run was discon-tinued in 1910 he continued with Mr. Jackson who also had The Dalles to Wapinitia Stage line from 1910 to 1914. After that Mr. Gray made a trip to Mexico and was held prisoner by Villa, the bandit, for a time, returning to Oregon where he farmed in the Friend area. He married (1919) Emma Miller and has son Marion, City Carrier at The Dalles post office and Elden of The Dalles. He has retired to a little farm at the east edge of Mosier and is very active for his 70 years of hard stage coach a freight wagon life in that romantic chapter of our history, Mr. Gray is the last of our living Concord Stagecoach men of old Wasco County and should be honored as such at our fairs, public gather-ings and organizations while he is still with us. We acknowledge with thanks, his valuable contri-bution to this history and it will be appreciated more and more as time passes.

Photographs titled
"Bend & Prineville Stages"
"Crate Cabin"
"Nyce Castle"
"Ox Bow Bend"


     It was in 1878 that The Dalles to Prineville stage line was established. This was the year G.M. Cornett, stage line operator of the Shaniko, Antelope, Mitchell area entered the transportation field and he may have been the contractor on the Prineville run for the Shaniko Leader in 1902 said, "G.M. Cornett has made the carrying of U.S. Mails a specialty since 1876. His present contracts (1902) are from Shaniko to Prineville; from Prineville to Burns; Shaniko to Antelope and Mitchell. Mr. Cornett has the best of coaches, good horses, careful and experienced drivers on all his stage lines and the traveling public may feel safe when they travel in one of the Cornett stages." Some of the stage coach drivers of Shaniko on these lines were:- Harry Adams, Chas. Adams, Dick Gaunt, Chas. Carey, Richard Hoffer, Wm. Neal, Wm. Prose, Walter Check, John Sumner, Benj. Doherty, Tom Hulzler, M.G. Miller, Tom Sharp, according to the Polk directory of 1905. The first service on The Dalles to Prineville run was weekly and as business warranted was increased until it became daily. Most of the Times-Mountaineer ads just mention "Prineville stage leaves the Umatilla House at 7 A.M." with out naming the line operator. From 1876 to the building of the Columbia Southern railroad into Shaniko in 1901, the Prineville stage took off The Dalles to Canyon City route at Bakeoven Junction and went down through Cow Canyon to where it joined with the Antelope Junction and went on to Prineville, cutting off at Hay Creek --- Junction with the Warm Springs Indian Reservation road. We presume The Dalles to Canyon City stage hauled the passengers to Bakeoven where they waited at Tom Burgess' Inn for the Prineville stage connection. After 1901 the Prineville stage operated out of Shaniko which was the rail terminus for Central Oregon until the completion of the railroad lines up the Deschutes river to Bend in 1911. In 1878 there was also a weekly mail and passenger stage that connected at Wapinitia (with The Dalles to Wapinitia stage), served the Indian reservation and passengers went by way of Haystack to Prineville. This service was finally increased to daily. Al Jordan, brother of Earnest of 10 & Trevitt streets, was for years a driver on the Wapinitia to Warm Springs section of this run. Al went to Calif. In 1858 and drove horses to The Dalles in the early 70's with his brother Wm. They were among the, forgotten mule and horse skinners in The Dalles in the 1870's, according to Earnest Jordan.


     The Dalles to Wapinitia stage line was established in 1878 to serve the newly created post offices of Dufur, Kingsley, Tygh and Wapinitia. It first followed the Old Dufur road to Dufur, then the old road to Kingsley and Tygh, Victor and Wapinitia. Later it went up 8. Mile creek to serve the post office of Endersby (1892) and thence to Dufur. The line was established by Fred Cordon, according to Dee Woodside of Maupin. The History of Central Oregon says Alfred Sanford operated the line In 1882. He sold in 1883 to Jno. Sanderson, according to The Dalles directory of 1883. He sold to Hiram T. Corum and Silas Wm. Davis (the writer's fraternal grandfather) (1885) who were jointly operating the hotel and store at Wapinitia. Mr. Davis continued to operate the stage line until his death in 1897. At first the service was only every other day, going out Mondays, back Tuesdays, out Wednesdays, back Thursdays, out Fridays and back Saturdays. In 1896 Dee Woodside said the service became daily.

     Upon the death of Mr. Davis (1897) the McClure brothers (Albert, Jim and Milt) who were the Bondsmen for Mr. Davis, took the line over and operated it until the bond date expired. Milt McClure drove for a time. There were no Fidelity bond houses in those days so operators of government contracts had to get 3 persons to go their bonds and in this case the McClure brothers were the 3 persons. The stage drivers, while Mr. Davis operated the line, besides himself were his sons Edward and Wm. The stage left the Umatilla House at 6 A.M. and was often 7 and later at night getting in.

     According to Jess M. Gray of Mosier, when the contract time of Hugh Jackson expired on the Dalles to Canyon City run in 1910, he bid on The Dalles to Wapinitia run and operated it until the contract ran out in 1914; and he (Mr. Gray) drove his final 4 years on this Dalles to Wapinitia run. Dee Wood-side explained that when The Dalles to Wapinitia line suspended service in 1914 mail was brought over from Maupin to Wapinitia by Bink Capps for a time; then by Bernie Robarts; the trip being one roundtrip daily. Rail service brought the mail to Maupin. Nathan Hill was the first R.F.D. carrier out of Maupin, followed by Carl Pratt, Jim Beck, LeRoy Holt, Vernon Woodcock and Everett Hammer. Dee Woodside's father L.M. Woodside was the blacksmith at Wapinitia who, together with Dee, shod and cared for the stage horses and other equipment that helped permit the mails to go through."

     Walter Woodside carried the mail from Wapinitia to Simnasho on the Indian reservation. In the early 90's on a trip to Simnasho with the mail in a buckboard they had to ford the Warm Springs river. It was too high and upset the buckboard and one horse and one passenger was drowned.


     The Optimist for July 9, 1914 said, "The Antelope to Mitchell Stage Line, in operation for 40 years or more, is a thing of the past. The Democratic administration not being willing to furnish mail to such a strong Republican settlement as that along the John Day and Bridge creek, fearing possibly, some campaign literature might got out that way and win over some democrats, if there are any left." On Aug. 1, 1924 daily train service to Shaniko was cut to 3 times a week. Later, during World War 2 the rails between Shaniko and Grass Valley were torn up and now Shaniko and Antelope are served by mail trucks which leave The Dalles at 6 A.M. for Sherman county cities and those two in Wasco county.


     The Dalles to Goldendale, Yakima and Ellensburg Stage, express and mail line was established in 1871 by Thomas Johnson of Goldendale, according the Klickitat Valley Days, a history by Robert Ballou at the Oregon State Library at Salem. Thomas Johnson came to Klickitat county in 1861 as a cattle raiser with Wm. Counell and Wm. Hill to Maryhill. He built the first house in Goldendale and used the front room for a store. He owned a flour mill and sawmill at Goldendale. In 1871 The Dalles to Goldendale stage run was started by Mr. Johnson. His nephew Almon Baker was the first driver assisted by Ike Darland and Billy Gilmore. Mr. Johnson moved to Ellensburg in 1881 and sold the stage line to Wm. Dickson.

     It was considered 30 miles from The Dalles to Goldendale over the old dirt road; 102 miles to Yakima and 154 to Ellensburg. They had relay stage stations about every 15 or 20 miles. At the summit of Simcoe mountain (Satus Pass) was one of the most important stage stops for changing horses in both directions. Way stations were Happy Home, Goldendale, Summit (Satus Pass), Tenna Washie (Satus Creek), Lower Crossing (Toppenish), Yakima, Naches river and Ellensburg. The overnight stations were Goldendale, Yakima and Ellensburg. It took a week for a roundtrip in good weather. The stage coaches were made in Goldendale by Phil Carwell. They used 50 head of "range bred" horses, a wiry type with much endurance. Most of them were put in the harness without enough training and would run themselves into exhaustion on the first few trips, trying to pull the whole load or "get away from that dreadful noisy dragon that kept following them no matter how fast they ran."

     Some of the drivers on the old Dalles to Ellensburg run were Issac Darland, Wm. Gilmore, Brigham Young (not the Morman), Al Lillie, Joe Lillie, Al Lockwood, Wilbur Ostrander, Dan Sharer, Wm. Bennett, Howard Marshall, Jim Stice and Ed. Phillips. From The Dalles there was Richard French who listed himself in The Dalles directory of 1898 as a stagecoach driver and who has told many of the older post office boys about being a driver on The Dalles to Goldendale section of this run. He was later a City Carrier in The Dalles and Money Order clerk in the post office retiring in the 1930's.


     In addition to the usual hardships all stage coach drivers suffered due to weather and roads, the drivers on The Dalles to Goldendale and Ellensburg run also had the Columbia river ice to contend with in the winter; and the "double winter" of 1893 was the toughest of all. The river froze over the first time the fore part of November 1892 and "went out" around the first of December; then it froze over in January 1893 and didn't go out until March. Some of the time it was 30 below and the stage drivers had "good ice" to walk over on; other times it was warmer and they had "rubber ice", a thin type that required the use of a boat. Often the drivers would fall through the rotten ice up to their arm pits into the ice waters of the Columbia and have to crawl out with wet clothing and "seek a new path" to shore. People would line the walls and windows of the Umatilla House watching the mail carrier wind his way through the ice to the Washington shore. If he made it safely to shore then "everyone knew the ice was safe", all monetary bets were paid and the luggage carriers brought over the baggage and mail, while the passengers walked across the river on the ice following the mail carrier's trail. But if the mail carrier fell through the ice then "everyone knew the ice was NOT safe. The stage driver was a "fool" for trying to walk over the ice when he fell through; and he was "smart" if he made it safely. But whether he was a fool or a man of wisdom, in the estimation of the Umatilla House "sages of wisdom", the stage driver had to always go over FIRST to pave the way and prove it could be done. After he went over the whole town could cross safely. There were times when he could actually drive his stage across the river with his horses and passengers and such times was ample proof to draymen, deliverymen, and farmers "that the river was safe for teams to be taken across." During normal times they always crossed on the ferry which has been in operation for years, the first ferries being operated by oarsmen and sails before the steam ferry which operated for a time on a cable.

     Capt. Jay Price is quoted as saying the first military mail route from The Dalles to Walla Walla was started in 1862; and converted into a regular run in 1884. In 1868 he says John Haley of Yakima extended the line from The Dalles to Boise as the Northwest Stage Co. The first mail was delivered to Yakima by pack horse from Umatilla in 1866 and service was extended to Ellensburg in 1871.


     The Times-Mountaineer of April 12, 1882 said, "The Dalles is a distributing point for the inter-ior of Oregon and Washington for the U.S. Mails which show a heavy increase, especially in eastern papers. The Yakima newspaper mail, formerly carried on a pack pony, now takes 10 large mail sacks.

     The contract for carrying mail has not been changed from boats to the trains yet and considerable inconvenience is sometimes experienced by transfer in this city from boats to cars. Last Wednesday the locomotive and tender went down to the wharf boat and the quantity of mail received, when piled up in front of the Umatilla House, made a very good showing."


     The best made stage coach was the Concord made since 1813 by J.S. Abbott & Co. of New Hampshire. The Troy stage coaches were made by Eaton, Gilbert & Co. of Troy, N.Y. The Celerity wagons were made by James Gold & Co. of Albany, N.Y. The Concord coach was made of Ash and held together by iron, the body resting on strong leather straps extending from front to rear axels. The passenger compartment "rolled" rather than bounced. The center of gravity was low making it harder to tip over. It would accommodate 9 passengers on 3 inside seats, 2 on the driver's seat and a dozen on the "dicky seats". They weighed a ton and cost $1500 and pulled by 4 or 6 horses. Passengers were strapped in to keep from being thrown out on rocky or chuckhole roads. (Oregon Country by O.B. Winters).


     No history of The Dalles is complete without an account of the hardships, starvation, thirst and death suffered by the members of the host Meek Cut-off Train of 1845. It is the "Donner story" of Oregon and while it has not received the publicity that the Donner party received, their sufferings were just as great in many respects.

     Lucy Jane Hall, daughter of the train Captain Lawrence Hall, in the 1905 edition of the Souvenir of Western Women, loaned for this historical work by Mrs. Fred Houghton, had the following to say:

     My father Lawrence Hall was elected Captain of our train of 30 wagons and about 50 men. Our most serious troubles began when we took the Stephen Meek cut-off (from Idaho through central Oregon). He represented that this route was much shorter than the old Oregon Trail and that there was no danger from Indiana. By vote it was decided to follow Mr. Meek and a contract was signed to pay him for his services. He agreed to pilot the company through safely in 30 days or "give his head for a football." All were to take turns hauling his goods. He and his wife were on horseback. After 3 weeks on our new route Mr. Meek one day exclaimed, "My God, we are lost."

     We moved on until night. There was neither grass nor water to be found. All night the men sat by camp fires listening for reports from those who had gone in search for water. If any was to be found 3 shots were to be fired in quick succession; if not 3 shots at intervals. At sunrise no sound had been heard. The train moved on through sage brush and across dry creek beds which mocked our thirst. We journeyed till noon when 3 shots at intervals sounded like a death knell to us. The men stood in groups talking over the situation. Mothers were pale and haggard. The party moved on. About night the 3 quick shots were heard proclaiming water had been found. All pushed forward with renewed energy. When in sight of water the thirsty oxen broke into a run and rushed into the water and drank until they had to be driven out.

     "We were saved, thank God," cried Stephen Meek, "for I now know my way." He could locate the trail to The Dalles from this stream. The teams were to such bad condition that we stayed there 3 weeks! Many were sick and some died and were laid to rest in this camp. Mr. Meek would have given his head for a football had he and his wife not made their timely escape. When we reached the Deschutes the Indians made us understand that a man and a woman had crossed the river a short time before. The man swam the river, leading his horse, and an Indian swam over with the woman on his back. Other Indians tied her clothes on their heads and swam across. We did not hear of the Meeks for more than a year after this.

     We were lost in the mountains 6 weeks. The way was rough beyond description. The women and children walked most of the way. On reaching The Dalles Meek told the Missionaries that a party of emigrants were in the mountains. A white man and 2 Indians were at once sent out from The Dalles in search of our company. When found, we people were on the verge of starvation. But for the provisions brought by the scouts, many, if not all would have perished. It took a week more to reach The Dalles when guided by these men. (See report of missionaries under Methodist Mission for further condition of survivors).


     Albert Allen related the following story about the Meek Cut-off Train to Margaret Walker which was published in an October 1921 edition of the Chronicle:

     I was only 2 years old when I came across the plains with the Meek Cut-off Train in 1845 and my father and mother said there were 60 wagons and 1000 head of stock. When we reached the Deschutes river near Sherar's Bridge, the men swam the river on their horses and stretched ropes from one side to another. The wagon boxes were talked up with cloth and used as ferry boats and towed across by ropes! The people and provisions were carried across in this way.


     We had a Soloman Tethrow in the Meek Cut-off Train and one day we made a dry camp at the head of Crooked river. Tethrow was driving cattle across a dry gulch when he noticed some peculiar yellow stones being uncovered by the cattle. He picked up one but did not think it had any value. After gold had been discovered in California, some of the nuggets were sent to Oregon and when he saw them he said, "Why I could have picked up a blue bucket full of them at the head of Crooked river!" Since blue wooden buckets were in common use in those days the place became known as the "lost Blue Bucket mine." While a great many attempts were made to find the locality it has never been located.

     When we arrived at The Dalles we camped where the Umatilla House is and Indians were hired to take the women and children down the river in canoes. The men and boys drove the stock over Indian trails to where Linnton now stands. We settled near Salem. I served in Co. A. lst Ore. Infantry in 1854-55.

     In another article in the Chronicle by Lulu Crandall she stated that Gov. Woods and Dr. James Mc Bride searched for the Blue Bucket mine near the head of the Malheur river where a nugget was found by Henry Marlin of the Meek train. His blue bucket and nugget therein floated away when they forded the Deschutes near Sherars Bridge. The Gov. Wood party was driven out by unfriendly Snake Indians. In 1858 Dr. McBride took 26 men from The Dalles into that country in another unsuccessful hunt. Later Henry Marlin, who made the discovery made another unsuccessful search. He was father of Mrs. J.B. Crossen, whose husband was Dalles postmaster in 1885. Dr. McBride was minister to Hawaii in 1865 and tipped off the State Department that Russia wanted to sell Alaska which we bought for 7 million.


     The following article appeared in the 1905 edition of the Souvenir of Western Women written by Jefferson Myers, President of the Lewis & Clark Exposition held in Portland in 1905 and loaned by Mrs. Fred Houghton for this historical record:

     The Lewis & Clark Exposition originated about 3 years ago by the Oregon Historical Society. The purpose is to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the expedition of Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Capt. Wm. Clark. The object in celebrating this historical event is to demonstrate to the commercial world and to the citizens of the U.S. the great possibilities of this western country. The citizens of Oregon subscribed most liberally to meet the expenses of this Exposition; and the state appropriated one of the largest sums ever granted by any state for a similar purpose. The federal government made an appropriation next in proportion to the World's Fair at Chicago (1893 celebrating the discovery of America) and the St. Louis Exposition. (This was the only national Exposition Oregon ever held.)

     The state of Oregon is possessed of a large amount of undeveloped resources and a vast area of government land which is open to settlement under the homestead law. The scenic beauty of the country will present a wonderful panorama to the visitors. The Pacific coast is the Switzerland of America, with its streams of clear sparkling water, its snow-capped mountains and its magnificent forests. A country full of beautiful wild flowers and sweet song birds. There is opportunity for the miner, the agriculturist, the horticulturist, the livestock producer, the deep sea fisherman, the timberman, the business man and a host of others.

     The Lewis & Clark Exposition will cover an area of about 400 acres, in the center of which is a natural (Guild) lake. The cost of this Exposition is estimated to be about $5,000,000 ($25,000,000 1952). It will be participated in by nearly every foreign government, by the government of the U.S. and nearly every state and territory within the union. A great number of private exhibits by manufacturers and others will be shown. It is the purpose of the management to secure at the close of the Exposition a very large collection of these exhibits for commercial museum in Portland. True Western hospitality, such as prevailed among the pioneers who crossed the plains many years ago, will be cordially extended to all guests at this crowning event of the natural life of this land of Lewis & Clark, "Where Rolls the Oregon."

     The Wilhelm Coast Magazine of May 1905, from Mrs. Fred Houghton's Library, on the Lewis & Clark Exposition said:

     The Lewis & Clark Exposition to be held from June to October 15 will be the first universal exposition ever held under national patronage west of the Rocky mountains. The site, the most beautiful ever utilized for such a purpose, contains 408 acres within the city of Portland. It embraces a natural park, a large lake and a peninsula which projects into the lake. From the grounds 4 snow capped mountain peaks, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams are visible.

     The main structures, 10 in number, cluster at the crest of a slight elevation overlooking Guild's lake, a natural basin for the exposition. Around them are grouped the, state and territorial pavilions and other smaller structures. The government buildings represent an expenditure of $400,000, are located on the peninsula.

     All but the Forestry building are built on one architectural scheme of the Spanish Renaissance. The forestry building (still standing) is an immense log palace covering half a city block and a tribute to the timber resources of the northwest. Guild's lake is spanned by the Trail and Bridge of Nations, 2000 feet long and is the amusement street of the exposition.

     The railroad companies have made exceptionally low rates of $45 for a roundtrip from Missouri and $56 from Chicago with liberal stop over privileges for side trips. The exposition is no child's play, it is a national affair meriting the attendance of everyone who is interested in a study of their country and the benefits are beyond the measurement of word or pen. For those who come from east of the Rocky mountains the greatest of all exhibits is NOT within the fences of the exposition, but rather the Oregon country and climate is the grand and most wonderful exhibit of all! Who has not awakened in the morning, during our summer months when the heat is bringing death to those in the east, feeling refreshed in slumber and able to breathe the lungs full of life-giving, cool, invigorating sea or mountain air? When the rigid cold of the winter holds the east in its frigid grasp we have balmy sunshine, scorning an overcoat.

     The magazine displayed an excellent photo of Guild's lake showing the Federal building, the peninsula containing the amusements, the boats on the lake of Venice, Italy type, the agricultural palace, the liberal arts building, the Forestry building, which still stands out near Montgomery Wards store and the European Exchange palace.

     A notation was made, in the same magazine that the Columbia valley section of Washington with its timber, wheat, livestock probably contributed more to Portland's prosperity than did Oregon towns and similar resources. Washington's Alaska-Yukon Expedition of 1909 matched the Portland fair.

Attractions at the Lewis & Clark Fair

     The Infant Incubators always had a crowd around them. In nickel-trimmed glass-fronted cases, breathing sterilized air from 85 to 100 degrees, lay tiny babies, prematurely born and struggling for life. The incubator is a wonderful invention and well worth seeing.

     The Siberian railroad of Russia had a panorama canvass which was rolled past the car windows at which the "passengers" could look and see the country as it "rolled" by while an attendant described the country represented. The battle field of Mukden and Port Arthur were shown. (This was the closest approach to movies that had yet been attempted.)

     The Davenport farm showing the little miniature mowing machine going round and round the alfalfa field, the hay falling just as naturally behind the sickle as it did on the farm, later rising back into position for the mower to re-cut on its next round, was a very clever reproduction of a piece of farm machinery in operation and always had a crowd of farmers near. The little horses walked as in life and the little sickle out about a 6 inch swath. It was all done by electricity and electrical magnets and advertised the mower.

     The small animal show with its dogs, monkeys and birds was swamped with children. The Klondike, Alaska mining exhibit drew the old California prospectors, the 1880 miners and college geologists and mineralologists. The Burns Cottage, the Haunted Castle, the Diving Elks, the Temple of Mirth attracted the young folks.

     The big water show called the Carnival of Venice was the spectacular feature of the Trail and Bridge of Nations. It was a water carnival put on out in Guild Lake on the Venetian boats which so many visitors rode in during the fair.

     Attraction features to draw people into the side shows included the Christian Devil dressed in black and with his forked tail and horny head; the fat lady who weighed over 400; the streets of Cairo; the Russian convict mascot of that country; the Igorrote woman of the Philippines wearing Paris attire; the Roly-poly; the shoot the chutes; the candy man who gave away the candy and sold the sacks; the Venetian boatman who was always losing money on the price of his boat rides; the many musical bands.

     No fair ever held was brighter, cleaner, more appropriate or successfully terminated. --- Coast Magazine, October 1905.



     Wasco County had a very attractive booth at the Lewis & Clark Exposition in 1905. It was pre-pared by The Dalles Business Mens' Association and C.L. Schmidt, Secretary-Manager was in charge with various other business men as assistants. It was located in the Oregon Building. The space allocated was approximately 50 X 30 feet. In the background Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams was built upon the top of the back 9 foot wall, out of cotton. Bend. A. Gifford's photos of Celilo Falls and Freighting in Central Oregon graced the back wall with his Lost Lake photo and data on county resources. The back table contained flowers, aerials and some dried fruits.

     The main forward table contained largely boxes and plates of various types of apples, peaches, potatoes, vegetables and flowers, the latter being arranged in vases at strategic points. The out-of-season fruits were contained in glass jars filled with alcohol for preservation. It will be remembered that at that time Hood River was a part of Wasco county and the growing of apples, which predominated in the display, was a Hood River activity. There were also more apples grown in The Dalles and Mosier areas than now.

     In the center of the booth was displayed, a banner, (hung from side pillar supports) on which was painted the American Eagle and over the eagle the words WASCO COUNTY. In large circular wooden letters, about 18 inches, above the banner in arch form, again appeared the words WASCO COUNTY and above them the word OREGON. Oregon Grape hung from the top and bottom of the arched sign.

     The booth was fenced in with a very attractive railing. The floor and the interior of the Oregon building was common undressed lumber.

The Wasco County Court published a special pamphlet for circulation by booth attendants and The Dalles Business Mens' Association, portraying the advantages and good points of the county. It was well illustrated with fine photos. A copy of that pamphlet can be seen in the Oregon State Library at Salem. The County Court and Wasco County Fair Board assisted in the preparation and cost of the booth. Since this was the only World Fair or Exposition ever held in Oregon, we have considered it worthy of mention in some detail. Excursion boats to and from the fair were crowded with people who made the trip up to The Dalles and return and nearly every Wasco county resident who could, attended the fair at least once and pioneers still talk about it.

© Jeffrey L. Elmer All Rights Reserved