Research Trip: Pendleton (Oregon)

Pendleton is a fascinating city, with a rich history that still flourishes in the twenty first century:

1860: Abram Miller settled in the area that used to be home to the Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse Tribes.

1862: Moses Goodwin traded two mules and a wagon for Miller’s land, and then built Goodwin Station.

1866: The Courthouse Well became the central meeting place and boasted the best water in town.

1868: Goodwin Station was renamed Pendleton and appointed as the county seat.

1880: With 730 registered citizens, Pendleton was declared a city.

1888: Telephones, electricity, lighting, and piped water arrived, and a second courthouse was built.

1899: After gold was discovered in the Blue Mountains, the city became a major entertainment capital. It had 3 theaters, an opera house, and several fancy hotels, as well as the usual breweries, saloons, and brothels.

1900: Pendleton was now a thriving trading center for wheat, sheep, and cattle.

1904: The streets were paved.

 1909: Pendleton Woolen Mills opened.  They still make blankets, shirts, and other wool goods today.

1910: The first Pendleton Round-up took place – the largest 4-day rodeo event in the country, held every year in September.

Points of Interest:


  • The town has a maze of underground tunnels that run for miles through the center of the city.  One legend claims they were the first Chinatown, used by the immigrants who had worked on the transcontinental railroad.  The Chinese preferred to live out of sight of the white population, to avoid the common racial confrontations of that era.

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