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7 Pieces Of History Near Pendleton, OR

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Pendleton, Oregon, is a small town in northeastern Oregon's Umatilla County. With a population of just over 16,000 people, it might not seem like there would be much history in the area. However, Pendleton and the surrounding region have played host to a number of historic events that have shaped the history of the Pacific Northwest. Here are seven such events that have taken place near Pendleton.

1. The Oregon Trail: One of the most significant events in the history of the Pacific Northwest was the westward migration of pioneers along the Oregon Trail. From the 1840s to the 1860s, tens of thousands of people traveled through what is now Pendleton on their way to settle in Oregon, Washington, and California. Many of these travelers would have stopped in Pendleton to rest and resupply before continuing their journey.

2. The Cayuse War: In the 1850s, tensions between settlers and the native tribes of the region led to the Cayuse War, a conflict that lasted from 1847 to 1855. One of the key battles of the war took place near Pendleton on July 10, 1855, when Colonel George Wright led a force of U.S. Army soldiers against the Yakama and Walla Walla tribes.

3. The Treaty of 1855: In 1855, the U.S. government signed a treaty with several native tribes of the Pacific Northwest, including the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla. The treaty established the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton and promised the tribes annual payments in exchange for ceding their lands to the United States.

4. The Pendleton Round-Up: Since 1910, Pendleton has been home to one of the most famous rodeos in the world, the Pendleton Round-Up. The event, which takes place every September, draws thousands of spectators and features traditional rodeo events like bull riding, barrel racing, and steer roping.

5. The Lockhart Airplane Crash: On September 1, 1934, famed aviator and movie star Tom Mix was driving down a highway near Pendleton when he came upon the wreckage of a small airplane. The plane, piloted by Hollywood stunt pilot and former World War I flying ace Bobby Lockhart, had crashed into a hillside, killing Lockhart and his passenger. The crash remains a mystery to this day, and the site of the accident is now a popular tourist attraction.

6. The Hanford Site: During World War II, the U.S. government selected a site near Richland, Washington, about 40 miles from Pendleton, to be the location of a top-secret nuclear weapons production facility. Known as the Hanford Site, the facility operated from 1943 to 1987 and produced the plutonium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945. The site is now a Superfund site undergoing cleanup.

7. The Columbia River Treaty: In 1961, the U.S. and Canadian governments signed the Columbia River Treaty, a water-management agreement that has had a significant impact on the Pacific Northwest. The treaty led to the construction of dams and reservoirs along the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Umatilla River near Pendleton. Today, the treaty is being renegotiated, with many stakeholders in the region advocating for increased consideration of environmental concerns.

Overall, Pendleton and the surrounding region have played a key role in the history of the Pacific Northwest, from the days of the Oregon Trail to the present day. Whether you're interested in Native American history, aviation, or rodeo, there's something for everyone in this beautiful part of the country.
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