Long Creek Historical Society
Inspiring the next generation to make the past a meaningful part of their lives
Prior to European settlement, this was a virgin region, unblemished and untraveled. Native Americans relied on the hills, valleys, rivers and forests for hunting and gathering. Then, as early fur trappers arrived in search of game, traditional native life began to change.
Long Creek Main Street
Long Creek valley was a stock grower’s paradise, with abundant water in a vast bunchgrass prairie. As more settlers arrived, bringing herds of cattle and bands of sheep, native people were displaced from their traditional camas gathering grounds. There were frequent clashes between settlers and native tribes. During the Bannock Indian War of 1878, settlers frantically built a fort in just three days as Indians moved through the valley, with the U.S. Army in pursuit.
By 1885, there was a store, a saloon, and a post office in town, and over 150 people lived in the valley. Named because the nearby creek was thought to be the longest in the area, Long Creek grew rapidly in the 1880s and 1890s, when a second wave of homesteaders moved into the area. By 1900 the population had grown to 524 inhabitants.
Long Creek Store Fronts
Long Creek was a thriving trading center for northern Grant County, supplying ranchers, miners, and townspeople with goods and services. The town boasted many commercial enterprises, two churches, a grade school, and professionals such as doctors and lawyers. The Blue Mountain Eagle, the oldest continuously published weekly newspaper in Oregon, started in Long Creek in 1886 and was published there until 1900, when owners moved it to Canyon City.
Long Creek suffered some disasters in its first fifty years. In June 1894, a cyclone, one of the most severe ever to hit Oregon, struck the community. The high winds destroyed buildings, killed three people, and injured six others.
Long Creek Aftermath of 1910 Fire
In 1895, and again in 1910, fire struck the town, burning much of the business district. The community bounced back and through the last half of the twentieth century prospered as a lumber mill town and ranching community.
Since the mill closed in the mid-1990s, ranching and outdoor recreation are the economic mainstay of the community. Today there are 220 friendly residents, with a gas station, post office, café and mercantile. The Long Creek School is the heart of the community with grades K-12.
To learn more about the rich history of Long Creek read: “In the Land of Bunchgrass, Gold and Trees” by Reiba Carter Smith. Available through the author for $35/plus shipping. Call 541 421-3165 to order.
The Long Creek Historical Society is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 corporation. Your donations are tax deductible and will be used to support our efforts to relocate the settler’s fort and build a permanent interpretive site and museum. Donations can be sent to the Long Creek Historical Society, c/o Marsie Watson, PO Box 472, Long Creek, Oregon 97856. For more information call: 541 421-3621. The Long Creek Historical Society meets the 4th Friday of every month. The public is welcomed.
An annual Founder’s Day Celebration is held on the Fourth of July in the city park and features a history pageant in memory of Long Creek’s founding families, followed by a community potluck. Please join us.