A Landing a Day

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Halfway, Oregon (Revisited)

Posted by graywacke on February 27, 2020

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2474; A Landing A Day blog post number 911

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N44o 56.162’, W117o 1.120’) puts me in northeast Oregon:

My local landing map shows two landings:  today’s and one from March 2017:

My streams only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Long Branch, on to Pine Creek (2nd hit); to the Snake River (87th hit):

Quoting from the March 2017 post (and changing the “hit” number from 168 to 182):

As 93 out of 100 of my readers know, the Snake makes its way to the Columbia (182nd  hit).  The 7 remaining readers just learned something.

Pine Creek discharges into the Snake near the town of Oxbow.  Here’s an oblique GE shot that shows the Pine Creek Valley, and includes my landing:

Once again borrowing from my previous post:

Speaking of Oxbow, I found Street View coverage of Pine Creek near Oxbow, just before it loses itself in the belly of the Snake:

Obviously, I have re-visited my previous Halfway post, and I have decided to go all in (not just halfway) with my visitation.  I read my almost-three-year-old discussion of how Halfway got its name, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  While I remembered the gist, I had forgotten most of the details. 

I was so delighted with my re-reading, I have decided to present it again, in full.  I know, I know, I could have just referenced the previous Halfway post, saying it’s great, and just enter “Halfway” into the search box to enjoy it. 

But if you are like me, you almost certainly wouldn’t do that.  However, if a portion of that post were incorporated herein, it is much more likely that my readership (all 17 of you), will read – and enjoy this. 

My only request is that you don’t skim.  It’s worth the few extra minutes to actually pay attention! 

Here we go (and I’m going to forgo my usual italics when I’m borrowing from a previous post):

From the Halfway town website:

The town is located “halfway” between the communities of Pine and Cornucopia.

Good thing the word “halfway” is in quotes!  I mean, really!   Look at the map:

AYKM??  In what universe does “halfway” mean really close to Pine (less than 2 miles) and really far from Cornucopia (almost 10 miles)?  There must be a story behind the story.  Wiki gives us a clue:

This town took its name from the location of its post office, on the Alexander Stalker ranch, halfway between Pine and Cornucopia.  While a post office was established in 1887, in 1907 the town was platted in another location [way further south, evidently]; the post office moved there in 1908.

OK, I guess.  I did a search for the Alexander Stalker ranch, but only found circular references to the town of Halfway.  But look at this GE shot:

Hmmm.  Carson pops up on GE, but is nowhere to be found on StreetAtlas.  Interesting that Carson is just a little north of halfway between Cornucopia & Pine.  So, it seems like the mysterious Alexander Stalker ranch might have been a little south of Carson.

Wiki on Carson:

In 1870 Tom Corson settled in the area on a tributary of Pine Creek.  His neighbors pronounced his name “Carson” and named the tributary and a sawmill on the creek after him.  When a post office was established here in 1893, it was named “Carson” as well.  The town was platted in 1900, the first in Pine Valley.

Let’s sort this out.  Here’s the timeline:

1887:  a post office was established somewhere between Pine & Cornucopia – rumored to be halfway between Pine & Cornucopia, perhaps at the Alexander Stalker ranch.

1893:  a post office was established in Carson, which just happens to be about halfway between Pine & Cornucopia.

Now wait a second.  It’s hard to imagine that there was a Post Office within a few miles of Carson, and then a separate post office was established in Carson!  In fact, this goes beyond “hard to image,” bumping into “ain’t no way!”

ALAD will make it official:  This whole thing about “halfway between Pine & Cornucopia” is bunk.  We all need another, more plausible story.  Let me roll up my sleeves . . .

I’ll start with Pine:  The “town” of Pine is nothing.  Nada.  Isn’t now, never has been.  Of course, I Googled Pine Oregon, and the only – I repeat the only – Pine Oregon reference I could find anywhere is Wiki.  Here is the entire entry:

Pine is an unincorporated community in Baker County, Oregon, United States.  It lies along Oregon Route 86 about 2.3 miles southeast of the city of Halfway, and beside Pine Creek, a tributary of the Snake River.

That’s it!  And let me say again – there’s nothing else on the internet about this so-called town.

Let’s take a closer GE look (and don’t be distracted that GE strangely misplaced the “Pine” label).

It is likely that Pine was never platted, never had a post office and was never anything much more substantial than what you see in the above GE shot.  So why would Pine be used as the southern anchor of the expression, “halfway between Pine and Cornucopia?”

I get Cornucopia.  It was a thriving mining boomtown back in the 1890s (platted in 1886).  But Pine?  Fuhgettaboutit.

So, let’s look at a StreetAtlas map:

Well, well, well.  What about Richland?  Halfway is about halfway between Richland and Cornucopia.  From Wiki:

Richland was platted in 1897 and replaced New Bridge as the primary rural service center in the area.

Hmmm.  1897 doesn’t quite work, since the Halfway story starts in 1887.  But what about New Bridge?

New Bridge doesn’t show up on StreetAtlas, but once again, it does show up on GE:

So.  What does Wiki have to say about New Bridge?

New Bridge was founded on the banks of Eagle Creek near an important bridge built across the stream in pioneer times (the “new bridge”).  Joseph Gale was the first postmaster of New Bridge post office, which ran from 1878 until 1967.  [So New Bridge was founded 9 years before Halfway.  Makes sense . . . ]

New Bridge had a fruit and vegetable cannery, a box factory, and a packing shed for apples.  New Bridge was platted in 1908, only after irreversible decline had set in, due in part to nearby Richland being platted in 1897.

Good enough for ALAD (and way better than that Pine nonsense).  New Bridge was a substantial town back when they opened the Halfway post office.   

Here’s my version of the story (and I’m stickin’ to it):

The original Halfway post office (founded in 1887) wasn’t in the current town location but was located a little to the north (certainly not at all close to Carson).  The Post Office was named Halfway, because of its location approximately halfway between Cornucopia and that bustling little town to the south, New Bridge.

When in 1907 the post office moved to the newly platted town a little to the south, the town, of course, became Halfway.

Just substitute New Bridge for Pine and it all makes sense; it all hangs together. 

Just for the record:  I could find no “deep” source that discusses the Halfway name origin.  The oldest source I could find (footnoted in Wiki) is a 1958 book by Winifred and Armond Moyer entitled “The Origins of Unusual Placenames.”  Here’s the entirety of the text about Halfway:  “The town was midway between Pine and the Cornucopia gold mine in pioneer days.” 

That’s not enough to change my mind.  I’m guessing some local person (way back in the day), actually wrote a little something about the history of Halfway.  He or she may well have realized that Halfway was actually halfway between Richland and Cornucopia, but then realized that the Halfway post office pre-dated Richland, so Richland couldn’t be the southern anchor.  New Bridge was long gone, and this hypothetical person wasn’t even aware of its prior existence.  Shrugging his or her shoulders, he or she simply decided that the southern anchor of Halfway had to be Pine. 

The mistake has lived on for decades.  I fear that A Landing A Day doesn’t have the oomph to rewrite the history books . . .

My earlier Halfway post actually goes on to cover three more topics:  The nearby 45th Parallel (marking the halfway point between the North Pole and the equator); the fact that Halfway was briefly known as Half.com as part of an internet marketing scheme; and surfing in Half Moon Bay, California (because Half Moon Bay was also in the running to be renamed Half.com).  It’s all good (including a great video of big wave surfing).  But don’t worry, I’m not repeating it here.

In fact, I’m going to shut this post down.  But what the heck, I’ll once again head back to my earlier post. 

It’s time for some local GE Pano shots (most taken in the Pine Creek valley).  I’ll start with this by DonWadkins:

Here are three by long-time ALAD contributor Ralph Maughan:

I’ll close with this, by Tony Immoos:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2020 A Landing A Day


2 Responses to “Halfway, Oregon (Revisited)”

  1. Cheryl Nash said

    You are Halfway Nuts!!!!!

  2. graywacke said

    I guess that’s better than completely nuts . . .

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