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Umatilla County, Oregon
Established in 1880 and named for town founder JH Koontz' then 3 year old daughter, Echo.
Echo has been a Tree City, USA since 1989
National Register of Historic Places. - Besides the City Hall and Echo Museum, there are 8 other National Register Sites in Echo: JH Koontz House, 1880; St. Peter's Catholic Church, Mission-style 1913; Cunha Farmstead c. 1890-present; Echo Methodist Church, 1885; Edwards Building, c. 1880; Echo Masonic Lodge, 1860;Koontz Building, Beauxarts1904; Echo Restaurant (Arlington House) Colonial Revival 1883; Echo Cemetery. Graves date back to mid 1800's. Cemetery is noted because of the scenic view of the Umatilla River Valley and large number of undamaged early gravestones, including a 12 foot granite cross with a carving of a mourning lady.
Echo was the site of an important Native Americancross roads dating back to at least 3500 years ago. The Oregon Trailthrough town followed one of these trails and ruts remain today. In1851 Congress appropriated $ 3,600 plus dollars to build an IndianAgency for the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla tribes on the west bankof the Umatilla River across the river from the city limits of Echo.Many pioneer diaries mentioned this building which was described as the"first sign of civilization we have seen since leaving Fort Laramie".It was painted white on at least one side and was a frame structure.Part of the lumber is supposed to have come from Whitman's Mission.The agency served as a trading post for both Native Americans andpioneers for four years, but was destroyed in 1855 at the outbreak ofthe Yakima Indian Wars and the only militia fort constructed in easternOregon was constructed on the site of the "still smoldering" agency.Fort Henrietta was a 100 foot square stockade made from cottonwood logswith block houses at opposite corners. It was named for HenriettaHaller the wife of Major Granville Haller, a regular Army officer atFort the Dalles, as she gave the under provisioned militia her personalwagon to use as an ambulance. The fort was used primarily as a supplyreplay point until it was abandoned in May 1856. However two soldierswere killed on separate horse raids on the fort and were buried nearby.There is also a story that a cannon or howitzer was dropped down theagency well. The site was excavated in 1885-1990, but the well andgraves were not found. However the excavation was only on the area ofthe site that is on public property. Interpretive panels on the sitetell of the history and archaeology.
The settlement began in the 1860s when pioneers began migrating inreverse along the Oregon Trail as it became "too crowded". The EchoMeadows was viewed as a good agricultural area and a small settlementsoon was started. The town was not platted until 1880 in anticipationof the railroad coming through the valley. The town was platted in1904. The town was very prosperous with a population of 800, but whenthe highway system by passed the town fortunes changed and by 1950 thepopulation was around 400. In 1906 Echo was the largest shipping pointin the state for shep and fat cattle.
Echo is still the center of one of the largest agricultural areas inUmatilla County. Cattle Ranching has replaced sheep, while the numberof crops has increased drastically from the pre-center pivit irrigationcrop of dryland wheat and alfalfa and corn on the valley floor. Nowcrops include canola, potato, asparagus, carrot and grass seed, peas,as well as wheat, alfafa hay and corn.
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Echo Historical Museum, located in former Echo BankBuilding a 1920 terracotta and marble Beauxarts-style building on theNational Register of Historic Places. Displays include historicphotographs and newspapers, Broadbased Native American ArtifactCollection, pioneer implements and furnishings. Open April thru midOct. Sat & Sun from 1:30 to 4:30 and by appointment
Chinese House OR & N Railroad Museum
Museum is located in China House, bunk house first occupied by Chinese laborers when the railroad was constructed. Two interpretive panels outside the building tell about the history of the railroad in Echo. Museum displays include railroad tools, photos and artifacts from Echo area railroad site excavations and Echo historical items. Open by appointment, call city hall(541)376-8411
Echo Oregon Trail Sites
A number of Oregon Trail sites remain in and near Echo. The Fort Henrietta Park has been named a National Historic Oregon Trail Site by the National Park Service. This was the site of a noted Trail ford, and while the ford is no longer visible a number of interpretive displays are located here: interpretive panels, replica Fort Henrietta Block House, Covered Wagon Display; A guide available at city hall or Echo businesses provides directions to three sites within5 miles of Echo where Oregon Trail wagon ruts are still visible and the David Koontz Gravesite (he died along the trail).
Oregon Trail Arboretum
An arboretum with over 100 trees and shrubs and interpretive panels was started in 1993. It is located east of the Echo School Athletic Field.
Echo, OR 97826
Echo Hills Golf Course
One of the finest and most challenging 9 hole courses in the region. The course sits on the hills east of town and is very scenic. Phone (541)376-8244 for information.
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