Oliver Peone Finds Copy of First
Canyon City Paper
Blue Mountain Eagle
May 28th, 1915
Oliver Peone Finds Copy of First Canyon City Paper
The following article on the history of Grant County was taken from the
City Journal published at Canyon City, Nov. 09, 1868. A faded copy of the
paper was found in an old tool chest by Oliver Peone and brought to this
office. The issue is the first printed here and needless to say is yellow
with age and yet in perfect state of preservation. The article taken from
this relic of the early days of mining on Canyon Creek is as follows:
Grant County, Oregon embraced all the headwaters of the John Day, Burnt,
Malheur, Silvies, and Crooked Rivers, with the John Day and Harney Valleys
included, in which are the John Day, Olive, Elk, Dixie, Granite and Burnt
River mining districts.
That portion known as the Canyon Creek or John Day mining district was found
to be a good gold field on the 9th of June, 1862, by a company of prospectors
from Yreka, on what is now known as Whiskey Flat half a mile abouve Canyon City.
On the same day gold was discovered on Little Pine Creek, two miles east, and on
the following day good prospects were found on rich and windless gulches, opening
one of the most extensive and richest mining camps in eastern Oregon. The parties
who struck the diggings, being out of the necessities of life, went to Auburn
where they reported their discovery of new diggings, which caused a rush of about
500 persons to this place, and they meeting the gold seekers from California to
Powder River, made within ten days of the discovery of gold a population of over
1,000 miners. But the claims on the creek being deep with a great deal of water to
contend with, and the gulches in which prospects were first found being dry gulches,
the most of those who first discovered the place left without receiving any of the
benefits derived therefrom.
Canyon Creek took it's name from a canyon through which it flows, in a northerly
direction into the John Day river; and this city took it's name from the above named
creek on which it is located a short distance below the mouth of the canyon and two
miles above it's confluence with the John Day river; and was laid out by Messrs Mulkey,
Cooper, and others on the twentieth of July 1862.
The first building was the Express Office of Brents and Nelson, put up about the 4th of
July 1862. A whiskey shop was started on Whiskey Flat on the 15th of June, in a tent;
and about the 20th, Powers, Shumann, and Wadleigh came in from Yreka with a pack train
loaded with whiskey, tobacco and groceries. In a short time after Cozart, Luce, and
Stone arrived from The Dalles with a pack train loaded with groceries and provisions and
started the first store in our city in a canvas house. The first restaurant was opened
by Mrs. Coopers; and, during July and August of the same year, several new stores and some
ten or twelve saloons commenced operations.
The first claims opened were on Little Pine Creek; the second near Whiskey Flat, both of
which were worked with rockers. In August, Brown and company built a small sawmill on
Pine Creek which proved a failure; most of the lumber used was cut by whipsawers. The
Humbolt company was the first to use sluices to which they attached a long-tom, in Juniper
Gulch. The first ditch was the Bissell Creek ditch dug to convey the waters of Bissell and
Pine Creek to Rich Gulch on which gulch the town of Marysville was built on July and August 1862.
The first claims opened on Canyon Creek were the Trenton and Richardson, in the fall of 1862 and
the Never Sweat early in the spring of 1862, all of which proved rich.
The first death was a man whose name has escaped our memory, on Pine Creek, who died of consumption;
the second James K. Knox killed by W. Blevins on the 23rd of November 1862 at which time our too
well filled graveyard was picked out and dedicated. A Berry Way was the first man hung which took
place on June 04, 1863 after a jury trial by the miners, for the murder of J. Gallaher, near
Antelope Valley on The Dalles trail.
Trowbridge and company located the first ranch on the 16th of July 1862 and is still owned by a part
of the same firm, and is situated opposite the mouth of the creek on John Day valley.
The Dalles road was opened early in 1864, previous to which time all supplies were transported by
About the first of July 1862 there arrived from California a train consisting of 32 wagons, 105 men, 14
women, and several children, which added to the permanent population of the district. Many that came
at that time are still to be seen on our streets.
The first persons joined together in the holy bonds of wedlock were Mr. Jas. Admas to Miss Jennette Hunter.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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