High Desert Outpost Along Early Wagon Roads

Whitaker Holes High Desert Outpost Along Early Wagon Roads

Whitaker Holes

By Steve Lent, Crook County Historian

Whitaker Holes is located five miles east of Millican and seven miles west of Brothers near Highway 20. This was the site of Whitaker post office that was established on March 28, 1911. It was named for John Orville Whitaker who settled in the vicinity. He was born on April 17, 1883. His parents were early settlers in Benton County, Oregon. He came to Central Oregon hoping to take advantage of the homestead boom, although he did not patent a claim.

A post office named Whitaker was established near his claim on March 28, 1911. The first postmaster was Mary E. Gray. Her parents had homesteaded near this site and the post office was located in their house. She later became the wife of John Whitaker. The post office only operated a little over a year and was discontinued on August 15, 1912.

The term “holes” applies to the depression and low spots along the old Dry River bed that sometimes contained water in the holes after significant moisture or after spring snow melt. There is a pronounced water cut channel of old Dry River and rock walls are on each side of the old river bed. This site was a water seep that was first used as a water source along the old pack trail and later wagon road that led from Bend to Burns. It became an important stopping place containing a few buildings and corrals. It served only a short time as a rest area during the period of early travel through the region.

The Whitaker family moved away from the region as drought conditions dried up the old seep. John Whitaker passed away on February 7, 1920. He was 36 years old. He was buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Corvallis, Oregon. His wife’s fate is unknown. There are no structures remaining at the site.