Historic The Dalles, Oregon
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Discovery Center Museum
Fort Dalles Surgeon's Quarters Museum
Original Wasco County Courthouse
Rorick House Museum
The Dalles Civic Auditorium
Old St. Peter's Landmark


Destination: The Dalles
Visit Historic The Dalles, Oregon and step back in time

Welcome, Pioneers, Adventurers, Gold-Miners, Mountain Men, Floozies and Scallywags!

The Dalles and Mt. Hood
The Dalles, Oregon and Mt. Hood


The Dalles 1884

The Dalles, Oregon

The Dalles is a place, where spectacular scenery, outdoor adventure, history, and friendly people all come together. Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, between Mt. Hood. and Mt. Adams, on the south bank of the Columbia River, The Dalles has been a natural destination point for pioneers of yesteryear and visitors of today!

The Dalles is alive with History!

The end of the overland Oregon Trail, The Dalles carved a unique place in history as a jumping off spot for pioneers, soldiers, gold miners, adventurers, gun-slingers, floozies, and scallywags. Lewis and Clark camped at this location at Rock Fort Camp during their historic journey to explore the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1805 and 1806. Fort Dalles was established in 1850. The city was incorporated January 26, 1857, making it the fourth oldest city in the state of Oregon. Ten thousand years of Native American trading took place on the banks of the Columbia River, carved by the Missoula Floods.

How do you pronounce "The Dalles"? And where did it get that name?

1888 Map of Columbia River at The Dalles
Map of the Columbia River from The Dalles to Celilo Falls, 1888. Click here to see a larger version of this map.

"The Dalles" rhymes with "pals", and "gals" and doesn't rhyme with much of anything else. And yes, "The" is part of our name. File us under the letter "T".

The "dalles" was a reference to a series of trecherous rapids once located just upriver from where the community is today. The French speaking Hudson's Bay Company fur traders and mountain men of the 1800s used the term to describe areas where river water was constricted by rock channels.

The word "dalle" translates, literally, in French as "large tile" (dalles is plural). It was a reference to gutters lined with tiles, or flagstones. The name became associated with this area because of the long gutter-like formation of the rapids known as the "grande dalles" of the Columbia, a channel that was two miles long, approximately 150 feet wide by 150 feet deep, where the entire volume of the Columbia River thundered through that long channel. Further upriver were the "petite" dalles, and Celilo Falls. The rapids of The Dalles and Celilo Falls made river navigation incredibly dangerous and difficult, if not impossible. Both the rapids of The Dalles and Celilo Falls were submerged by the backwater lake created by The Dalles Dam, when it went into operation in 1957.

Fort Dalles Floozies

Floozie Alert

Be on the alert for Floozies! They love greeting our visitors at the Riverdock, located at the foot of Union Street. Several cruise ships are visiting the Columbia River Gorge this year, and the Fort Dalles Floozies turn out to greet the visitors to The Dalles. We love to share our wonderful town and our history with everyone and hope you enjoy meeting our Floozies!

For a look at the cruise ship schedule, visit The Dalles Main Street
or click here for a PDF of the cruise ship docking schedule.


Sanborn Maps
Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps for The Dalles

View PDFs of the Sanborn Insurance maps of the The Dalles. The maps available range from 1884 through 1960. Sanborn Maps is an American publisher of historical and current maps of US cities and towns that were initially created to estimate fire insurance liabilities. The company's maps are frequently used for preservation and restoration efforts. The Sanborn maps themselves are large-scale lithographed street plans at a scale of 50 feet to one inch (1:600).

You will find maps for 1884, 1888, 1892, 1900, 1909, 1926, and updated maps for 1944-1960 (based on the 1926 map). A treasure trove of information for the historian trying to figure out what was located where and when in The Dalles.

Click here to head to the Sanborn Map page.

Wascopam Mission
Wascopam Mission


Wascopam Mission

The Dalles celebrated the beginnings of our community in 2013 with the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Wascopam (pronounced "wus-KO-pum") Mission, March 21, 1838. To learn more about the mission, click here.

Wascopam Mission
Umatilla House


Umatilla House

Once the "best hotel in the west" the old Umatilla House was a busy place during the wild west gold rush years in the 1860s through the 1890s. To learn more about the Umatilla House, click here.


Explore The Dalles

You will find lots to see and do in The Dalles. We're located on the bank of the Columbia River, on the east end of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The Dalles was the end of the overland Oregon Trail and the site of Fort Dalles, a central point during the Indian wars and the only Fort between Fort Vancouver and Fort Laramie.

Take a walking tour of our Historic Districts. Visit Local Museums.
See and hear the Downtown Murals. And don't forget to saddle up for the
2015 Fort Dalles Days & Rodeo celebration July 16, 17 & 18, 2015.
Concerts, wine tastings, and more, there's lots of fun to be found in and around The Dalles.


Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area
Where to play and where to stay!


True West Magazine 2014 Award True West Magazine named The Dalles, Oregon as one of the
"Top 10 True Western Towns" of 2014, 2011 and 2010.


Want more history? Take a look at the Oregon History Schoolhouse

See our SiteMap for a quick view of this website.

Visit historic The Dalles, Oregon
End of the overland Oregon Trail








Moody's Mercantile

Fort Dalles Museum
Fort Dalles

Original Wasco County Courthouse

Wasco County Record
newsletter of the Wasco County Historical Society

Wasco County Record Spring 2014
Spring 2014
Victor Trevitt, Trevitt's Addition Historic District, Ben Snipes, Zenas Moody, Memaloose Island
Wasco County Record Spring 2013
Spring 2013
Historic Places in Wasco County, Shaniko, Umatilla House
Wasco County Historical Society Record 2012 Fall newsletter
Fall 2012
Wascopam Mission, Book of Heaven, Pulpit Rock, Catholic Mission
Wasco County Historical Society Record 2012 Spring newsletter
Spring 2012
Moody/Rorick House, Malcolm Moody, Lang Sisters, Celilo Canal


History Queen
Musings of the
History Queen

Behind the scenes
of Historic The Dalles






Honoring 10,000 Years of Native Culture & Trade • End of the Overland Oregon Trail • Lewis & Clark Trail
Email: [email protected]http://www.historicthedalles.org
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