There's a lot more to Wallowa County than the cities of Enterprise and Joseph. Smaller towns in the remote corners of the county have plenty of attractions and recreational opportunities.
MINAMYou'll come to Minam before you come to the town community of Wallowa. It's just 45 minutes out of La Grande on Oregon Route 82 and nests at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers.
The name, Minam, comes from the Native American name for area, E-mi-ne-ma, which described a valley where a small edible sunflower grew. The name was anglicized to "Minam River" by 1864 and stuck when the post office was first established in 1890.
In addition to being a great spot to fish, Minam is the boarding site for Eagle Cap Excursions of the Wallowa Union Railroad. The popular excursion train operates on a 63-mile long rail from Elgin to Joseph and into otherwise inaccessible areas along the Wild and Scenic Wallowa River and the Grande Rhonde River. The excursion company offers many tours, from spring fishing tours to combined rail and rafting excursions. Visit (www.eaglecaptrain.com) for more information.
Steelhead anglers from throughout the state flock to Minam in February and March.
FLORAAnyone who's ever wanted to know how to make soap like they did in the pioneer days, plow a field or eat a tasty meal baked in a Dutch oven is invited to Flora School Days at the historic Flora Schoolhouse on the first Saturday in June.
In its heyday, the town of Flora was the flourishing center of trade for the rugged farming and ranching community of the north end of Wallowa County.
At one time, it was home to several hundred residents, living in and around town. It had two general stores, two hotels, three blacksmith shops, a post office, a two-story school, a newspaper, a dental office, three shingle mills, a telephone office, a warehouse, a church and many houses. But the two world wars, the consolidation of agricultural land and improved transportation ended up decimating the town's population. The last store shut its doors in the 1960s, the post office was discontinued at the end of 1967 and the last student left the school in 1975.
For many years, an occasional chili feed, flea market or old-time dance at the North End Grange Hall were about the only signs of community life in Flora, which had become a virtual ghost town.
Since then, however, there has been a modest resurgence, centered around the old Flora School, built in 1915, which is in the process of being restored. The building was derelict -and had come close to being torn down to make room for a junkyard - when Dan and Vanessa Thew Thompson of Umatilla County purchased it in 1992. After years of work by volunteers, placing the building on the National Register in 1997, and the award of numerous grants for reconstruction, the building is now open for the Flora School Days event.
The sixth annual School Days celebration will offer wagon rides, pioneer skills demonstration, homemade pie served by the North End Grange and old-time music on June 20. In keeping with its mission of keeping pioneer skills and folk arts alive, the education foundation also holds classes at the schoolhouse in such topics as Dutch oven cooking, quilting, weaving and candle making.
For more information about Flora School Days and scheduled classes, call 541-828-7010 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also visit (www.floraschool.org)
TROYA tiny canyon community on the confluences of the Grande Ronde River at the extreme north end of Wallowa County, Troy is very close to the Washington state border.
Its most popular attractions include steelhead and fly fishing, hunting, and rafting the Grande Ronde. Hikers enjoy trails up the Wenaha River to enjoy the scenery and wildlife, including Rocky Mountain sheep. Some of the biggest elk in the state are found in the Wenaha hunting unit. In May and June wildflowers along the mountain sides and canyon are spectacular.
According to locals, Troy's population is roughly 18 people, 50 turkeys and a dozen deer. Approximately 16 residents are scattered along Eden Bench, along with part-time turkeys, elk, deer and, most recently, moose, while Bartlett Bench boasts about the same population mix, in addition to an unknown number of cows.
The only real business in town is the Shilo Oasis Resort, owned by hotel-chain magnate Mark Hemstreet. It offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu during the summer months, as well as cabins, an RV park and gasoline.
Troy has the smallest school district in the state, with local children - six this year - educated in a one-room schoolhouse that also serves as community gathering center.
Bill and Emma Wilson homesteaded the Troy site in 1898, and the first post office opened in 1902. The first bridge across the Grande Ronde was completed in 1910, and a flourmill began operation two years later. The town grew from a population of about 25 to 100 after a sawmill opened in 1946, but Troy's life as a mill town ended in 1954.
For a number of years, singer-musician John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival owned property at Troy.
Other family-friendly events now held in Troy are an Easter potluck and an old-fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, highlighted by a parade and street dance.
Six roads leads to Troy, but only two are open in the winter, for all practical purposes. They are the Flora route, about 56 miles from Enterprise, and the Oasis route along the Grande Ronde River from the Lewiston highway at the foot of Buford grade, just beyond the Washington state line. Other routes, best to avoid in the winter, are north to Pomeroy, Wash., and Tollgate, Wildcat and Powwatka in Oregon.