Gilliam County, Oregon

Arlington (Alkali) Blalock China Ditch
Clem Condon (SummitSprings)
Crum Mill Lonerock Mayville Olex Shutler

Note: All of the information about these locations was provided by the Gilliam County Historical Society, which has a lovely brochure listing these sites and others, along with a map of locations and a description of 58 historic places to visit in the county. If you stop by the museum, please tell the hostess, Karen Wilde, that you "saw it on the internet" and thank her for providing this information to the Gilliam County RootsWeb site.

Arlington(Alkali)  Early Arlington Photos

In 1881, the townsite of Alkali was platted by J.W. Smith, who moved his store goods from Willows to Alkali by raft. Before 1881, Alkali was an Indian trading post and steamboat landing before the railroad came. In 1885, Alkali became an incorporated town and was renamed Arlington. It is located at the mouth of Sand Canyon on the Columbia River. The first school was established in 1882. Mrs. Haskins, the first teacher, taught in a little shack, which was replaced in 1883with a one-room school house. Besides the train depot, the community was made up of several warehouses, a couple of hotels, a general merchandise store, a bank, and other buildings. A post office was established in 1881 with Elijah Ray as postmaster. For five years after Gilliam County was formed, Arlington was the county seat, but in a general election in 1890, Condon won the county seat title by a majority vote.

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The town of Blalock is now under water backed up behind the John Day Dam. The town was platted in 1881 and Burrill Griffin was the first postmaster. It was named for Dr. Blalock, an early settler in the area. It was a station for the O.W.R. & N Company. Later, it was on the Columbia River Highway. By 1905,the town had a general merchandise store, two grain warehouses, a hotel, livery stable and stage stop, real estate office and an agriculture implement factory.

The Blalock school was built in the early 1900s and was attended by many children who rode long distances on horseback. It housed grades one through eight and had one teacher.

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China Ditch

When the railroad was built up the canyon from Arlington to Condon, railroad engineers wanted to assure a water-free base for their road bed, so they had a ditch dug on the west side of the tracks in Arlington. Natural erosion caused by water run-off quickly dug out a sizable ditch. A Chinese laundry business was located on the bank of the ditch about midway through town. It was assumed the ditch received its name because of the laundry business. It has been speculated that a particular incident identified the ditch with the business owners; however, such an incident has never been verified.

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The community of Clem was named for Clem Danneman. Clem lived in Scott's Canyon, three or four miles southeast of the townsite. His home was a stage stop between Arlington and Condon. The first Clem post office was at his home. The town of Clem was started when the railroad came through in 1905. Two competing towns were platted - Clem was laid out on the east side of the main road between Condon and Arlington; Welshons was laid out on the west side. Eventually, the towns were combined and called Clem. There was a school house, three stores and two saloons. A church was never built, but sometimes Sunday school was held in one of the saloons, or in a small building across from the hotel. School was held in one of the saloons until the school building was finished. There was a grange hall and two livery stables, about a dozen houses, a garage and a blacksmith shop. One of the stores was a "blind pig." They even had a small golf course. On the railroad right-of-way stood the train depot, three grain warehouses and the Arlington lumber yard. Later, three grain elevators were built. Clem was the hub of several roads - the Cunningham Market Road from Mikkalo and Rock Creek to the north; the main road from Arlington to Condon; and a road coming from Rock Creek Canyon on the east to Hay Creek Canyon on the south and west.

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Condon (Summit Springs)

Condon was first known as Summit Springs. A pure stream of water had attracted Indians and pioneer stockmen on their way from the Columbia River to the Blue Mountains, and it made a favorite stopping place. In 1879, William F. Potter built the first house in the area just north of Summit Springs, near where the post office now stands. It was from Potter's land that the city was platted. Five years later, Summit Springs had a store, a stage post, and on July 10, 1884, a post office was established with David B. Trimble as postmaster. Trimble had a young lawyer, Harvey C. Condon, from Alkali draw up the application papers, and named the post office for him. From that time Summit Springs became known as Condon.

Condon's city hall was built in 1899. A small building by today's standards, the city hall housed the hose cart of the city fire department, which had formed the same year, and was used as the city council chamber and the city jail. This building, with its barred windows, is still standing in its original site, east of the Jamieson and Marshall Plumbing Shop just off Main Street on Summit Street.

The railroad was completed to Condon in 1905 and the depot was built a few years later. It was located just north of Condon Grain Growers elevators. The building was moved in 1975 across Highway 19 to its present site and is now the Gilliam County Historical Society Museum.

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Crum Mill

The Jeremiah A. Crum mill was built in 1881-82 and remained in operation for 15 years. Jeremiah began work as a flour miller at age 14 and became a skillful miller. He left at age 18 and worked in Montana before coming west and establishing the Crum Mill. The mill can be seen on the west side of Rock Creek by driving along Olex grade on Highway 19, or by taking Rock Creek Road from the Mobley place.

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Early settlers came to Lonerock Valley in 1871. The town was the first in the county to be incorporated in 1882. The post office was established in 1875 and the school was the first in the county in 1875, although two other schools were also established that year - Schott school and Lower Edick school. The town gets its name from a huge rock in the middle of the valley. The Lonerock church is located next to this rock. The jail is still standing and was built in 1891.

The first school was started in 1875 with 16 pupils. Mrs. Thomas Ward was the teacher, holding classes in their smokehouse. The benches would seat four students and were made from logs split in half, sitting on a dirt floor. In one account, two sisters took turns teaching; they were Martha Hogan and the other's last name was Parenti. This building was several miles east of Lonerock near the cemetery. The second Lonerock school was a two story building built around 1888. All twelve grades were taught here at one time. The last high school graduation was held around 1932. The school was closed around 1960 and the children were bussed to Condon.

The Lonerock Methodist Church, built in 1898, has recently been renovated and is worth touring.

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Mayville was first known as Clyde, so named for the Mr. Clyde who had the first blacksmith shop. There was a community of Clyde n the late 1870s, but a post office was not established or the town platted until 1884. A town meeting was held at that time and it was decided to call the town Mayville. Along with the post office, Mayville had a hotel, general store, and grist mill. The first grange in the county was formed at Mayville with W. J.Edwards as master. A license for operation of a saloon was never used, but a "blind pig" was in operation. The first school way about a mile northeast of Mayville. Later, a two-room school was built in the town, then a room for a high school was added later. The I.O.O.F. lodge was formed in 1885.

The I.O.O.F. cemetery was first established by the Mayville Odd Fellows Lodge in 1886. It is part of the South Gilliam County Cemetery District now, and has perpetual care. Roberta and Chester (Buzz) Dyer gave the cemetery the use of a well, providing the cemetery board maintains the well. Arthur Haley left $11,000 to the Mayville Cemetery, the interest to be used to maintain the cemetery. Robert Graham and Al McConnel donated the land for the cemetery in 1886. The first grave was for Riley Perrin. Henry Beck has a stone there that reads, "Poorly born, Poorly lived; Poorly died; and no one cried," which is recognized in Ripley's Believe It or Not.

The I.O.O.F. Lodge had a strong base in Mayville. The hall was built in 1895 after the first hall burned. William Keyes ran a store in the ground floor of the building, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Milo Cushing. After he closed the store, dances, basket socials, and ladies aid were held in the hall. The Rebecca Lodge organized in 1895 and both lodges held meetings in the hall until 1978 when the two lodges consolidated with Fossil lodges. Dances were held as late as 1940. Roger Smith owns the building now.

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Olex Town & School

The second school building to be built in Olex is still standing and is the oldest school still in operation in the state. The first Olex school was built in 1875 on the Conrad Schott place, three miles up the creek from the townsite, then moved in 1880 to another building in Olex, after which the present school building was erected. The first teacher in the Schoot school was Emma Alderman. The first Olex post office was located about a mile up the creek from the townsite at the Charles Schultz place. Established in 1874, it was the first post office east of The Dalles. James H. Butler was the first postmaster. The town was to be named Alex in honor of pioneer stockman Alexander Smith. When the post office name was applied for, someone in the postal department misread the application, and the town has forever been known as Olex. At one time, Olexhad two general stores, two blacksmith shops, a drug store, meat market, hotel, saloon, post office, school and church. The townsite was a mile east, up Rock Creek, of Highway 19.

About a quarter-mile beyond the town of Olex is the cemetery, on the east side of the road. The church stood beside the cemetery, but is now gone. Many of the earliest settlers of Gilliam County are buried here. Tom Stevens, the original "Mutt" of "Mutt and Jeff" fame is buried here near his mother, father, and brother Jim, in an unmarked grave. A large rock marks the grave of the only occupant of the jail, on the southwest side of the cemetery, south of Paul Weimar's grave.

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Shutler was the first railroad station on the Condon branch south of Arlington. It takes its name from the large flat area some five miles south where an old wagon with the Peter Schuttler trademark broke down and was abandoned. Through the years, the wagon disintegrated, but the marker's sign, painted with good white lead paint, remained legible. In identifying areas, that place became known as Shuttler Flat. When the Union Pacific put up the station sign, they left out the "c" and one "t", leaving the spelling "Shutler."

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Thanks to Joe Schmidt for providing this page.