North Powder Location
North Powder is a city in Union County metro area. North Powder, Oregon is located south and east of the Grande Ronde Valley located in the Powder Valley. We can be reached by taking I-84 through Ladd Canyon toward Baker City. North Powder is located right on the Oregon Trail. Our major industries are timber and agriculture.
North Powder History
Lewis and Clark showed the Powder River on their map under the name “port-pel-lah,” a native American name meaning powdery soil. In 1811 the party camped near North Powder. Donald McKenzie is said to have named the river. The community was named for the North Powder River, which was named for an English translation of a Chinook term for the soil along the stream. Madam Dorion, wife of Pierre Dorion, a guide for the Astor party, gave birth to the first white child born west of the Rockies somewhere near North Powder.
In 1851, Ruben Riggs settled on the North Powder River. It has been the belief that he had the first homesteader’s cabin and sawmill in the area. During the great migration of the Oregon Trail, North Powder was a resting place for the pioneers. In 1862-63, the migration to the Powder River mines established a community.
Professor James DeMoss established a stage station in 1862. He also helped establish the first post office on October 2nd, 1868, with Joseph Austin as the first postmaster. By 1863, stock ranches were taken up and a livestock community developed.
Nicholas Tarter built a mill in 1872, the first industry in North Powder. It was operated by the power of a wooden turbine wheel with iron buckets.
By 1878, the only building still standing on the Chris Johnson place was the old mill and a house where the Hudelson warehouse later stood.
Andrew Lun, who had a lumber business for six years in North Powder, bought a farm and constructed an artificial lake, which produced 8,000 to 15,000 tons of ice. The ice was then loaded on railroad cars and shipped. He sold his ice plant, which once burned down and was rebuilt, to the Pacific Fruit Express Company, who operated it until 1937 when lightning struck and burned it to the ground.
North Powder was incorporated in 1902. By that time there were twelve businesses, three churches, a school and a newspaper called the Powder Valley Echo.