HELLS CANYON AREA HISTORY

Bank Building.jpg
Phone Operator.jpg
Gray Gables cir 1915.jpg
Copperfield 1908.jpg
Rodeo cir 1940-50.jpg
Haystack.jpg
ND Brown.jpg
ND Brown Store.jpg
Horserace at Old Grandstand.jpg
Smiling Snow Shoveler.jpg
Miners Best Friend.jpg
1938 rodeo court.jpg
Early Halfway.jpg
Last Chance Mine Tramway.jpg
School Children in Winter.jpg
Sparta School 1898.jpg
Sparta Wright Store circa 1898.jpg
Sparta Store 2000.jpg
Wagon of Hay Bales 1917.jpg
Robinette Stockyard 1940s.jpg
Robinette Post Office 1950s.jpg
Robinette Ferry 1950s.jpg
Richland School 1913.jpg
Richland VFD 1900-1910.jpg
Richland House Couple & Garden.jpg
Oxbow Damsite before construction 1950.jpg
Richland Hotel 1910-20.jpg
Oxbow of Snake River 1950.jpg
Richland EV Bank circ 1920.jpg
Eagle Creek No Name City 1968.jpg
Cornucopia Winter Sleds 1910-20.jpg
Cornucopia Snow Tunnel 1910-20.jpg
Cornucopia Men Digging Snow Path 1910-20.jpg
Cornucopia Main Street 1916.jpg
Cornucopia Lincoln House 1910-20.jpg
Cornucopia Jesse Brown Rifle 1913.jpg
Cornucopia Men in Trees 1900-1915.jpg
Copperfield Interstate Bridge 1950.jpg
Copperfield Oxbow Dam Power Line 1966.jpg
Cornucopia Alberson Hotel-2 1910-20.jpg
Carson Store 1899.jpg
Copperfield Denny Store 1917.jpg
Halfway HS Basketball Team 1930.jpg
Halfway Transfer Co 1920.jpg
Goodell Wagon Trail Market 1920.jpg
Halfway Truck Decorated for Parade 1920.jpg
Eagle Creek No Name City Paint Your Wagon set 1968.jpg
Halfway Easter 1924 Child on Car Hood.jpg
Halfway Homestead 1920.jpg

Copperfield (now Oxbow) - Copperfield is located on the eastern fringe of Baker County where Pine Creek flows into the Snake River at the Oxbow Dam.  The town was established in 1907-1908 to house the mining and railroad crews working on the Snake River.  The population reached approximately 1,000. 

 

At one time it was Oregon's most notorious town. Things got so bad that the governor sent Fern Hobbs and a cadre of National Guardsmen to establish martial law and "restore decency" in 1910. They closed the saloons, seized firearms, burned gambling equipment, and succeeded in cleaning up the town.  Copperfield is now home to employees and families of Idaho Power as well as residents with houses along the river. 

 

Cornucopia - Cornucopia is located high in the Eagle Cap Mountains at the upper end of Pine Valley.  The town was established when gold was discovered in 1880, and its population peaked at over 3,000.  The mines were closed after World War II, and many of the houses and other buildings were moved down into the valley. Today, there are just a few cabins and the remains of a hotel left in town.

 

The road up to Cornucopia was called "Bootlegger Grade", as it was built by county prisoners during prohibition.  A still was operating in the area, and as long as there was whiskey, work proceeded as usual... but when it ran out, no work got done!

 

Elevation at the mountain peak is 8,640 feet, and if you do much hiking in the area, you will no doubt find cables left from the elevated tramways constructed to carry gold ore (and workers!) for the mines. 

 

Halfway - The City of Halfway was incorporated in 1909.  The story of how Halfway got its name runs the gamut, but this is fairly close.  A new post office was being established in 1887. As it was midway between existing post offices located at Cornucopia and Pine Town, the name "Midway" was requested. The postal officials replied that there was already a Midway, Oregon, and suggested Halfway.  Two years later, the post office was moved to the current location of the town of Halfway. As it was about halfway between Pinetown and its original location near Jimtown, the name remained.  Halfway was located in Union County until 1901, when it became part of Baker County. Its current population is about 380.

 

Brownlee - The Brownlee Reservoir on the Snake River is 57 miles long and hosts beautiful recreational facilities.

 

Eagle Valley (Richland) - The story for how Eagle Valley got its name also changes, but this is the most told.  About 1860 a couple of prospectors came across a dead eagle near the place where a sizeable mountain stream emptied into the long meandering Powder River.  The creek where they saw the Eagle became Eagle Creek and the town the creek drained into was called Eagle Valley.  Many homesteaders arrived during the 1870's. 

New Bridge, just two miles north of Richland up Eagle Creek, has an even more temperate climate and boasts beautiful fruit.

 

 

The Hells Canyon Chamber of Commerce gratefully acknowledges the Baker County Library and Hells Canyon Journal for the historic photos.

Photos courtesy of Hells Canyon Journal, Baker County Library Historical Archives,

Anna Brisk, Phil Wreden, Cindy Thayer, and Timothy Bishop of Base Camp Baker

News and event information courtesy of Hells Canyon Journal

 

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Halfway Easter 1924 Child on Car Hood.jpg