The Imnaha Country in 1887
The Imnaha country comprises a considerable portion of the eastern and southeastern portions of Wallowa county, and is the most diversified of any section of like size, we think, in the Sate of Oregon. It takes its name from its principal stream, the Imnaha river, which rises in the mountains in the southwest corner of the county, flows east some distance, then turns northward diagonally across a portion of the county, and empties into Snake river some twenty miles above the northeastern corner of the county. The river thus flows a distance of about seventy-five miles.
This Imnaha is a vast gorge through the mountains its entire length. The mountains range from two to three thousand feet in height, and are generally barren of timber, but are covered with a luxuriant growth of bunch grass, which affords abundant pasturage for stock the entire year, Big and Little Sheep creeks, together with other streams, flow into the Imnaha, and all have the same general characteristics.
Until a few years ago, there were no settlements upon these streams, but the country was held in common by the stock men of Wallowa valley as a safe retreat for their stock in the winter. Mr. A. B. Findley was the first, or one of the first, to settle in the Imnaha country, but after his experience with garden vegetables, fruit trees, etc., many others were induced to settle in what is today the best portion of Wallowa county for fruits and vegetables.
Hundreds of fine locations can be secured along the streams above mentioned, principally along the Imnaha itself. The first place of note on this stream is called the “park”, some twelve or fifteen miles from its source. This is a beautiful little valley, about four of five miles in length, and from one-fourth of a mile to one mile in width. There are only two or three settlers located there at present, but they are opening up good farms and have planted large orchards, which are doing splendidly.
The next place is the Findley settlement, some ten miles farther down the river, where there are a voting precinct, a post office and a school district, in which a four months’ school was taught last winter, the teacher receiving $40.00 per month. This settlement extends about ten miles down the river, and then some five miles farther is what is called the “Lower Imnaha”, where the valley widens, and including the bench land, forms quite and extensive section, from one to two miles wide and perhaps twelve miles long. The only settlers on this portion of Imnaha are Messers, Vance and Stubblefield. The Imnaha country has a delightful climate, with a mild and even temperature, and is thought to be one of the best localities for vineyards in the Northwest.
From Joseph toward this potion of the county, in a northeasterly direction, the road is over a rolling prairie country for some twenty miles, when the “breaks of the Imnaha” are reached.
Across the Imnaha eastward to Snake river, is a mountainous country, heavily covered with timber. Here may be found as fine hunting grounds as exist in America, with abundance of large game, that, perhaps will never be exterminated.