Historic The Dalles
Welcome to Historic The Dalles. This area has been inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest for over 10,000 years. Early explorers Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805 on their way to the Pacific Ocean, and camped at a place they named Rock Fort camp. Wascopam Mission was established here in 1838, and beginning in 1840 a small trickle of intrepid settlers became a flood of Oregon Trail emigrants.
The Dalles was incorporated in 1857 and is the fourth oldest town in the State of Oregon. The Dalles is the county seat for Wasco County, which was organized in 1854 and at 130,000 square miles, was the largest county in the country. Wasco County ran all the way from the summit of the Cascade Mountains to the summit of the Rockies and included land that is today located in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The Original Wasco County Courthouse still stands today. When it was built in 1859, it was the only territorial courthouse west of the Rockies.
The gold rush of the 1850s and the Indian wars brought in the military who established Fort Dalles. The railroad expansion of the 1860s brought an influx of laborers, and the bountiful Columbia River spawned salmon as well as fishwheels, which harvested so many salmon, it threatened the species.
Today The Dalles is near the east end of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, and is the home for the scenic area’s official interpretive center, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum.
Visitors enjoy traveling on Highway 30, also known as the Historic Columbia River Highway.