Early Crossing Site on Deschutes River near Present

Pickett Island

By Steve Lent, Museum Historian

Pickett Island is located in the Deschutes River at the present site of Tumalo. It served as a crossing site of the Deschutes River and was a center for early settlement. It is named for William A. Pickett who homesteaded in the area. He lived in the area for several years before patenting a land claim on February 28, 1919.

The Prineville Review reported on the site on May 19, 1904:

Quite a settlement has sprung up at Pickett Island crossing of the Deschutes this year, and it is very likely this will be the scene of a new town in three or four months hence. Pickett Island is the place scheduled for the crossing of the Corvallis and Eastern [railroad] if that road is ever extended into Eastern Oregon, and capitalists are seemingly of the belief that such projection is not without the range of possibility. Portland men, of whom W.A. Laidlaw is one, have erected a store there to catch all the advance trade. This store, it is said, carries a $11,000 stock of general merchandise and is already doing a brisk business among the people who have recently settled in the neighborhood. The advent of this new community has been quiet and unheralded, and about all the land in the vicinity of Pickett Island has been taken up by homesteaders as the right of way for the Columbia Southern [canal] extension also passes nearby, it would seem to be a most desirable location for a city. At any rate, we wish the new settlement all prosperity.

Eventually the community of Laidlaw was established at the site and it was later renamed Tumalo. The railroad mentioned in the newspaper was never built over the Cascades