Lewis and Clark called it “Rock Fort” when they camped in the fall of 1805.
They liked it so much, they stayed on the return journey the following spring. Today it is The Dalles, and thousands of folks take Lewis and Clark’s example by visiting and experiencing its history and natural beauty.
That’s one reason The Dalles is No. 7 among True West Magazine’s 2014 Top Western Towns. Dodge City, Kansas won the top award. They will be featured in the February 2014 issue, on newsstands Jan. 7.
“The Dalles has thousands of years of history,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “As a major Native American trading site, to the Corps of Discovery exploration, fur trading, and so much more. The local residents take great pride in preserving the heritage for all to see. It is truly a Top Western Town.”
The town was the original end of the Oregon Trail, so thousands of immigrants passed through the area, especially during the Great Migration of 1843. Many settled here, and much of what they built is still around.
Fort Dalles’ surgeon’s quarters, built in 1856, now holds the Fort Dalles Museum, one of Oregon’s oldest. The Original Wasco County Courthouse, built in 1850, housed the sheriff’s office, three jail cells and a courtroom. It still features the original leg shackles and the ball and chain used to restrain prisoners. Then there’s the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. They trace the history of the region from the ice ages through the arrival of the pioneers.
“We are so excited and very honored to receive this distinction from True West Magazine, a national publication, as they will help deliver the message that The Dalles is a destination for historical tourism,” said Lisa Farquharson, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce chief. “We are the only city in Oregon to receive this recognition for 2014. We are hoping that this award will help bring such an awareness and curiosity to the tourists that they will want and need to visit The Dalles and see all that we have to offer.”
This is the ninth year True West has presented this annual award. Editors base their selection on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums and other institutions, events, and promotions of historic resources.
True West magazine is in its 61st year of presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit TWMag.com or call 888-687-1881.