Early Pioneer Settlement in Grant County

Long Creek

Long Creek

By Steve Lent, Crook County Historian

The community of Long Creek is located in a grass covered valley between Mount Vernon and Pendleton. The region attracted miners as gold was discovered near Canyon city in 1862. One of the miners drawn to the valley was John Long. He filed mining claims and also established a homestead ranch in the 1870s. Long Creek that runs through the valley was named for him, although some claim the creek was named as it is one of one the longest streams in this region. Two other men John Paul and Nicholas Noble also were among the first to ranch in the valley.

Settlers were attracted by the lush grasslands that were conducive for livestock operations. There was plenty of water and the sheep and cattle industry began to thrive. A post office was established on August 12, 1880 with Joseph Shields as first postmaster. The community also boasted a store and a saloon. It became the economic hub for surrounding small communities such as Hamilton and Fox. The population was about 150 people.

More homesteaders came to the valley in the 1880s and 1890s and the population grew to 524 by 1900. Long Creek even had a newspaper when the Blue Mountain Eagle was established in 1886 and operated in Long Creek until 1900 when the owners moved it to Canyon City. The town had commercial lawyers and doctors. It was common for Long Creek to host dance events that attracted settlers from the surrounding ranches and communities. People would dance late into the evening then break for a picnic dinner and then go on for rest of the early morning hours before returning home.

Like many frontier towns Long Creek endured its share of disasters. A rare cyclone struck the community in 1895 and destroyed buildings and killed three people and injured six others. Fires devastated the town in 1895 and in 1910. Each time the community rebuilt and as sawmill operations arrived in the mid Twentieth century the community began to thrive once again. The main sawmill closed in the mid-1990s and by 2020 the population had fallen to 173, but the valley still has prospered with cattle ranching and the community is alive and well.