Magone Lake is one of Grant Countys most picturesque recreation
spots. It is located about 25 miles north of Mt. Vernon.
Major Magone was the first man to report the location of the lake
that bears his name. He discovered the lake in 1880 and built a
Forest service investigation discloses that geologists believe
the lake was created by a land slide in the early 1800's. Trees
below the surface still make boating a bit hazardous. There is
40 acres to the surface of the lake. It has camping and picnic
facilities and is a popular place for swimming and boating. Fishing
is available there the year around with open water fishing
from the bank and from boats and winter fishing through the ice.
A legend has grown up around Major Magone. He lived life in
a different pattern than most people. He wanted to relax and
"get away from it all" even in the 80's.
He made one big bid to become a national legend as well as
a local one. In 1893 he accomplished walking from Canyon City
to the Worlds Fair in Chicago.
Major Magone was a former Civil War officer and had the reputation of
"If the Major said he did it, then he did it".
He was a familiar figure around Mt. Vernon. A story has been
handed down of the Major and his Palamino horse. As the story
goes -- he was proud of the horse and exercised it by leading it
about the streets of Mt. Vernon. He always walked with the horse
and never rode it. The story continues -- when he went up to his
cabin on some of his later trips, the horse, unburdened with
saddle or pack, walked up the trail behind him.
From Grant County streams Major Magone caught brook trout &
carried them to the lake. He would hang a bucket full of fish
from both ends of a wooden yoke, which he put across his shoulders,
for the trip afoot into what is now a part of the Malheur National
Forest. One account says he hauled the fish to the mouth of Enas
Creek on the Trowbridge ranch then up the 9 mile trail to the
What happened to Major Joseph Magone? Perhaps one fine day
he simply walked out of Grant County as he may have earlier
walked into it!
October 24, 1941
Arthur Minor, a former merchant in Heppner; later associated in the
only store in Mt. Vernon, with his son-in-law, Phil Brady, known as
Minor and Brady; received sweepstakes ribbon for his Grant County
exhibit booth at the Pacific International Livestock Exposition;
Display of native grasses draped on either side of entrance of booth
made of various kinds of native grasses. A fitting entrance for a
stock country where grasses count. United States flag created
mostly of red and white beans. The "Wise Old Owls" made of seeds,
the big round harvest moon of wheat -- created by Mrs. Cecille Lewis,
now owner and operator of the John Day Floral.
Mr. Minor and Valene Green in charge of display at Portland. Valene Green,
as many of we old timers in the Mt. Vernon community remember
so well as the "Sweet Voiced, Kind and Patient telephone operator in
Mt. Vernon. In those "Good Old Days" it was just "Hello" and no dial system.
Then many of us could all talk and not be "BUZZED" off in the middle of
a very important neighborhood conversation.
That Old Chinese Building
Pictured above are scenes from inside the last of the old Chinese buildings
in John Day which was the home and business house of Dr. Hay and his partner
Lung On, better known as Lee On. These two being the last of hundreds of
Chinese who at one time lived in John Day and Canyon City and mined in that
vicinity. At one time there was a Chinatown on Dixie Creek, one near
Susanville, one at Long Creek, one at Monument and many scattering remnants as well.
Either time has claimed them or they emigrated to other fields leaving only
Dr. Hay and Lung On. Lung On passed away after the age of 75 years. Dr. Hay
lived several years longer carrying for the sick who came to his door. Although
he became stone blind before his death he was still jovial and taking life gaily.
This old building and the contents is one of the many interesting sights of
Grant County. Any one wishing to look this over would have to contact
Gordon Glass of John Day, owner and operator of the S-M Motor Company.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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