Morrow County now represented in Historic Oregon Newspapers online!

In partnership with the Morrow County Museum in Heppner, Oregon, several early newspapers from Heppner are now available for keyword searching and browsing online at Historic Oregon Newspapers!

Incorporated on Feb. 9, 1887, the town of Heppner has seen many years’ worth of historical events in the Northeastern region of Oregon. In 1885, Morrow County was created, carved from the already existing Umatilla County. In 1888, Heppner welcomed it’s first railroad line, which was a spur from the Columbia River. As more railroads and roads were added over the years, Heppner became a regional trade center. You can follow the community’s enthusiasm and the development of the railroad through these historic newspapers with a  search for “railroad,” limited to Heppner titles with results listed in date order. We found the following entries, but there are over 2,000 pages of Heppner newspapers that mention railroads, so you won’t be bored!

In June of 1888, there was much anticipation for the coming railroad as a contributor to economic boom:

Editorial from the Heppner Weekly Gazette reads: "The Gazette. Heppner, Thursday, June 14, 1888. Everyy inhabitant of these primitive Heppner hills looks with pride to our town which came into existence sixteen years ago, and has been growing steadily year after year without interruption ever since. It is to-day a rustling, bustling, wide-awake place, a counterpart of its inhabitants, who are people of broad, liberal views, kind-hearted and energetic and have never been known to shrink from putting up when the general prosperity of the community demanded it. With a railroad now building to Heppner, stage roads and tri-weekly mail routes being projected to reach out to Haystack and Camp Watson, Monument, Long Creek, Fox Valley and Canyon City, and every part of the country that demands such conviniences, places this town in a position to enjoy the fruits of past labors. Property is increasing in value in a manner that is encouraging to owners of real estate. Once piece of property that cost $800 a short time ago, sold recently for $2000; another was bought for $150 and sold for $300 in ten days, and we might name many other transactions of like nature. We have a boom and no mistake. To be brief, gentle reader, come and see Heppner. It is the coming railroad and educational town of Morrow Co. A few hundred dollars invested now, means thousands of clean cash right in your pocket, and in comparatively short time."

Heppner weekly gazette. (Heppner, Umatilla County, Or.) 1883-1890, June 14, 1888, Image 2.

By late November of 1888, the railroad was complete, a cause for celebration:

Clipping from the Heppner Weekly Gazette reads: "One thousand people were present, among whom were many pioneers, who no doubt could hardly realize the change since 1872. At 3 o'clock, the last rail being laid, Mayor Henry Blackman made a short address, yet to the point, which is as follows: 'Fellow Citizens and Ladies: We have assembled here for the purpose of celebrating the completion of the railroad, which connects this city and surrounding country with the outer world. Those who are present among the pioneers who established Heppner in 1872 at that time never dreamed that the iron horse would traverse the Heppner Hills, but it is an actual fact, and we welcome it, not only as the advance guard of civilization, but the opening up of vast acres of grazing, agricultural and timber lands.' "

Heppner weekly gazette. (Heppner, Umatilla County, Or.) 1883-1890, November 29, 1888, Image 2.

As the county seat, Heppner was and still is the home of the Morrow County Courthouse. Constructed in 1903, it is one of the oldest continually used courthouses in Oregon, not to mention a fabulous example of American Renaissance architecture. That same year, a devastating flood crashed through the town killing hundreds of community members and destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property. Gruesome reports of victims and body parts being found months after the event can be seen in the Heppner Times, from which digitized issues are available from late 1903 to late 1904:

A clipping reads: "Glen Davis found a human foot one day last week as he was cleanin out an irrigation ditch. It undoubtedly belonged to a flood victim."

Heppner times. (Heppner, Or.) 1???-1912, April 14, 1904, Image 4.

The very same page contains a surprising advertisement for, well, see for yourself:

Clipping reads: "Chinaware Decorated with Heppner Flood scenes - a useful and pretty souvenir"

Heppner times. (Heppner, Or.) 1???-1912, April 14, 1904, Image 4.

Another flood struck again in 1918, along with two fires that destroyed many buildings and homes in the community. The Heppner Herald was one of the many businesses affected by the fire of June, 1918, which apparently started in or near the Palace Hotel and spread by wind, destroying four and a half city blocks. Publisher S.A. Pattison gives his perspective in the July 5, 1918 issue of the paper, which came out a day late due to the fire:

Clipping reads: " Somewhat Disfigured, Still in the Ring. The Herald appears a day late this week and in tabloid form due to certain circumstances over which the publisher had no control. To be brief and frank with this tale of woe the Herald has no more of a printing plant this morning than a rabbit has fighting qualities and the publisher and his family have no more household goods and not much more clothing than a family of sparrows. Everything in home and office was completely wiped out in Thursday's fire and it is only because of the courtesy and true neighborliness of Mr. Crawford and the Gazette-Times force that we are able to appear even in condensed form and only one day late."

Heppner herald. (Heppner, Or.) 1914-1924, July 05, 1918, Image 1.

The Heppner Hotel, built in 1920, was part of the town’s rebuilding after the several disasters, and it is one of the historic buildings still standing in Heppner today:

Clipping reads: "Furniture Going in New Heppner Hotel. Rooms ready for guests this week. Dining room probably ready for Christmas - All Equipment First Class. The new Heppner hotel is the scene of much activity this week with a small army of workment installing the carpets, furniture and other equipment. The work is being rushed in order to accomodate the public at the earliest possible moment.

Heppner herald. (Heppner, Or.) 1914-1924, December 14, 1920, Image 1.

These clippings are just a few examples of the content that can be found in Heppner’s historic newspapers. Search or browse these titles and see what other kinds of interesting things you can find!

1 Comment

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One response to “Morrow County now represented in Historic Oregon Newspapers online!

  1. Pingback: Heppner Gazette-Times now online, 1923-1951! | Oregon Digital Newspaper Program

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