Whatever I'm Thinking

Archive for the month “June, 2019”

Enterprise, the Jewel of Eastern Oregon

The Wallowa Mountains above Enterprise, Oregon

June 30, 2019

Wallowa County occupies the far northeastern corner of the state of Oregon. It’s far from Portland and the State Capitol in Salem, far from the Pacific Ocean beaches, and far from California. Unlike most of eastern Oregon’s desert stretches, Wallowa County boasts snowed-capped peaks and lush green valleys. 

Enterprise, the county seat of Wallowa County, lies in a beautiful alpine valley.  When you go there, expect to see many pickup trucks with two black labs in the back.  Standard. Expect also to see a few horses get loose just outside town and run down the road with their owners running after them in vain, causing the closest thing to a traffic jam in this rural place. Again, standard.

Welcome to Enterprise, named after the idea of “enterprise.” After a look around town, we’ll end up at the lake. That’s how life usually works around here.

Wallowa County Courthouse — front entrance

The courthouse and many other buildings in town are constructed of a locally-quarried gray stone block known as Bowlby Stone, named for a local landowner.  The porous stone could be cut by masons while it was still damp from the quarry, but after a time it dried as hard as concrete.  (This last bit I read on a historical sign, and this is the first time I’ve heard of quarried rock being called “damp”.)

Wallowa County Courthouse — Enterprise, Oregon

Here’s Enterprise’s slogan: “The Past is our Future.” I doubt that will be so, as will be seen later.

Main Street. Enterprise, Oregon. A Bowlby stone building on the right. A nice local watering hole on the left.
The OK Theatre. Enterprise, Oregon

Enterprise has a population of 1,940; the county has a total population of 7,008. But that may change.  Its fantastic location in a deep Alpine valley beckons travelers, tourists, and second-home seekers.  In short, folks with disposable cash. That’s what I saw when I last visited a few years ago.

Neighborhood home with white picket fence. Enterprise, Oregon
The Ponderosa Motel. Fine lodging just across the street from the courthouse. The Wallowa Mountains are the backdrop. Enterprise, Oregon.

Only western Oregon makes the national news — in Portland, Antifa just beat a bystanding journalist into a brain bleed (https://humanevents.com/2019/06/29/antifa-brutally-assault-journalist-during-portland-protest/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fduckduckgo.com%2F) — but eastern Oregon is the Republican half of the state.

You can see the signs of it everywhere:

Wallowa County Courthouse’s Fountain of Honor — Enterprise, Oregon

This part of Oregon is becoming a refuge from the fascists taking control in western Oregon. Meanwhile, the spirit of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce will be here always.

Statue of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce.

Here’s some more history, for this interested:

South of town, Wallowa Lake catches the snowmelt from the mountains high above it and feeds the Wallowa River which runs through Enterprise:

Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake

Cool summer memories. Toes compliments of yours truly.

Wallowa Lake

Some scientific information on the lake and surrounding area:

Finally, one last look at the valley, taken just before sunset on a warm June day:

View of the Wallowa Mountains, as seen from my room at the Eagle’s View Inn & Suites, Enterprise, Oregon

All photos were taken by the author. Photos were taken on June 25, 2007, and June 22, 2015.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


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