The City of Mosier, Oregon is located in western Wasco County, on the Columbia River and along the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway 30. Mosier was incorporated in 1914. Mosier is situated 14 miles west of The Dalles, Oregon on I-84 (the “new” highway) and 7 miles east of Hood River, Oregon.
Major industries are orchards, timber and recreation, including biking, hiking, fishing and windsurfing or sailboarding. A key local attraction is the Mosier Twin Tunnels State Park, a pedestrian and bicycle route through two historic tunnels along the Columbia River Scenic Highway just west of town. This five mile route connects Mosier with the City of Hood River.
The population of Mosier has grown swiftly over the past two decades. In the 1980’s the population was roughly 220 people. Today the population is approximately 440. Mosier’s elevation is 164 feet. The distance from Mosier to Washington DC is 2391 miles. The distance to the Oregon state capital is 98 miles. (as the crow flies.) Mosier is positioned 45.68 degrees north of the equator and 121.39 degrees west of the prime meridian.
The city wastewater treatment plant is maintained by Operations Management International, Inc.
Mosier has its own community newsletter, “The Mosier Bulletin.” The Bulletin’s address is PO Box 328, Mosier, Ore. 97040.
History of Mosier
Mosier is a pioneer settlement on the Columbia River. J.H. Mosier started the community about 1853-54 by settling on a claim near the mouth of Mosier Creek. Mr. and Mrs. Mosier ran an impromptu stage station, a stopping place for travelers. Jonah H. Mosier was born Mar. 10, 1821 in Maryland, and moved to Missouri in 1839, and learned cabinet making. He went to California in 1849, but returned to the eastern states. He came to Oregon in 1853, and soon settled on his homestead. He served in the Oregon legislature and died in 1894. Pierce Mays, prominent Wasco County resident, told the writer that Mosier’s large collection of artificial books in a handsome cabinet was one of the best of its kind in Oregon. He once tried to read one of the wooden books. — Source: Oregon Geographic Names, Sixth Edition, 1992, Lewis L. McArthur, Oregon Historical Society Press, ISBN O-87595-237-2.
In 1854 Jonah H. Mosier settled in this area now known as the town of Mosier, located just east of the Cascade Mountain Range on the Columbia River. Seeing a need for lumber, he erected a series of sawmills near the falls at the mouth of Mosier Creek. The lumber for the Old Wasco County Court House was said to be one of the buildings constructed from the Mosier Mill. After losing his third and last sawmill to flooding, Mr. Mosier moved on to pursue the sale of cattle to miners.
Jonah Mosier and his wife, Jane, had seven children: Sarah Alice, Emily Ann, Mary S., Josephine, Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, and Lydia. After their father died in 1894, son Jefferson bought out the interests of the other heirs and proceeded to plat the town of Mosier.
Jefferson Newton Mosier, born 28 Sept. 1860 (died 5 May 1928) was a significant contributor to the community. In addition to being the founder of the City of Mosier, he was the first president of the Mosier Valley Bank, the first school clerk of Mosier, the president of the Library Board, and an active member in the Democrat Party and the Red Cross.
Jefferson Mosier built his home in 1904 on a hill overlooking Mosier. The Queen Anne Victorian style “bungalow” was of a type similar to those sold by Sears-Roebuck. Features of the house included a cupola peak roof, leaded glass windows, a curving wooden staircase, 10 foot high ceilings in the front parlor and living area, and upstairs bedrooms that took in a lovely view of the Columbia River. In the late 1980’s the house, which had been exposed to years of neglect, was purchased. After several years of extensive remodeling and restoration, the house was turned into a bed and breakfast, and then a vacation rental. Today the Mosier House sits amidst gardens, a creek and a pond that overlook the town.
In 1910 the Joseph Sheldon family homesteaded an area behind Mosier known as Sheldon Ridge. Their daughter, Miriam, had an avid interest in flowers, domestic and native. She planted bulbs imported from Holland, including: daffodils, narcissus, tulips, and iris. Miriam cataloged many varieties of wildflowers and submitted her listings to Washington D.C. She was an artist, poet, botanist , potter, photographer, teacher. She died in 1934.
Sheldon Ridge, six miles south of Mosier, was the site of a lightning strike July 23, 2002 that set off one of the area’s largest wildfires. Strong westerly gorge winds whipped the fire into a conflaguration as it expanded from 200 acres to over 5,180 acres in a matter of hours, eventually growing to over 9000 acres. Over 800 firefighters came from all over the state and the country to battle the blaze, which burned eastward and threatened people living in The Dalles, Oregon. The evacuation of 250 homes was lifted on July 30, and the fire was contained on August 1.
In 1910 Mark Mayer established a home and a 230 acre apple orchard in Mosier. His home was a stately mansion known as Mayerdale Place. In addition he also donated to Wasco county the land that is now known as Mayer State Park, near Rowena, on the Columbia River. The former Mayer home and is in itself noteworthy for its size, elegance, and architecture.
Eighteen Mile Island, west of Mosier, was often called “Chicken Island” or “Chicken Charlie’s Island” by local residents. Charles Reither lived on Eighteen Mile Island from 1915 up until his death in 1963. Chicken Island is in reference to a chicken ranch around 1904, but Willie Gholston claims there were never chickens on the island.
Constructed during 1919-1921, the Mosier Twin Tunnels were closed in 1955 after the opening of the Interstate-84 freeway gave travelers a faster and safer way to travel the gorge. The Mosier Twin Tunnels were reopened in July of 2000 and dedicated as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The trail is 4.6 miles long, and open to pedestrians and bicyclists. The view on the east end is spectacular, opening to vistas of the Columbia River Gorge and Eighteen Mile Island, also known as “Chicken Island,” or “Chicken Charlie’s Island.”
Mosier Waterfront Park
The community of Mosier is committed to keeping a quality Waterfront Park, a project begun in May of 2002. Mosier is located on the Columbia River in one of the most spectacular areas for windsurfing in the entire area.