History of Hermiston

In the 1860’s and ’70’s, Hermiston was known as “Six Mile House”, a sturdy old west hotel with bar and brass rail. Along side was a deep and cool well, curbed with lava rock and a feed barn for mules and horses. Six Mile House was an overnight stop for trail-weary travelers and freighters.

When the railroads came to Eastern Oregon, replacing the team freighters, Maxwell Siding was built nearby to allow trains to pass.

On July 10, 1907, the town of Hermiston was incorporated. Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, “The Weir of Hermiston”, inspired the name.
Under administration of the Bureau of Reclamation, Cold Springs Reservoir was constructed east of Hermiston for storage of Umatilla River water. Formal opening of the head gate leading to the main canals took place on May 27, 1908. With this advent, irrigated farming was undertaken on a large scale.

Agriculture was Hermiston’s lone industry until the Umatilla Army Depot was constructed immediately prior to World War II. In 1947 McNary Dam was erected on the Columbia River by the Army Corps of Engineers. The 1960s saw commercial developments in the Hermiston area. One of these was the C&B Feedlot just off the Butter Creek Highway, south of town. Shortly after opening, the facility was feeding 3,000 to 4,000 cattle and about 15,000 lambs at a time. Most notable of the developments, however, was Marlette Coach Company’s new mobile home plant.

The 1970s witnessed a widespread development in agricultural industry. Playing a major role were the large potato processing plants constructed by Lamb-Weston and J.R. Simplot, which provided employment for thousands and in many other ways, stimulated the area’s economy. New irrigation techniques, particularly circle sprinklers, led to the farming of much land formerly covered by sagebrush. As Hermiston grew businesses invested such as the Union Pacific Railroad developed Hinkle Terminal, Marlette Homes, Inc. began manufacturing mobile Homes, Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Pioneer Seed, Fed X, Good Shepherd Medical Center and UPS are just a few businesses that have expanded to this community.

From modest beginnings, Hermiston has grown into a modern, progressive city as the largest city in Eastern Oregon, enjoying a wealth of assets in people, land, climate, the mighty Columbia River and has tremendous potential for further agricultural, Commercial and industrial expansions, because of logistics and land availability.