Sherman County Historical Society and Museum
Open Daily 10 until 5 May through October
The Columbia Southern Railroad, running from Biggs to Wasco, was built in 1897, with much celebration because it ended long days of hauling wheat by wagon to the Columbia. By 1901 the rail line reached Shaniko, stretching 70 miles.  By 1910 the county's population swelled to 4,242 during the James J. Hill and E.H. Harriman fight to build rail lines up the Deschutes River.

Today I-84 parallels the Columbia River, intersecting at Biggs with Highway 97 which traverses the full length of the county, and linking it to Washington state via Sam Hill Memorial Bridge. Highway 206 follows Fulton Canyon from the Columbia River through Wasco to Cottonwood Canyon  Grade and the John Day River and beyond to Condon. Highway 216 runs from Grass Valley to the juncture of Buck Hollow and the Deschutes River at Sherar’s Bridge, roughly paralleling the Cut-off to the Barlow Road.

The Land between the Rivers

Sherman County lies between the deep canyons of the John Day River on the east, the Deschutes River on the west and the Columbia River on the north in north central Oregon. Much of the boundary on the south is defined by the steep, rugged canyons of Buck Hollow, a tributary of the Deschutes. The county's 831 square miles are approximately 20 miles wide and 42 miles long. 
Elevation ranges from 185 feet on the Columbia River to 3,600 feet on the plateau in the south. Summers are warm, dry and clear. Winters are 
relatively mild. Average rainfall is 11.56 inches a year, about half occurring November through February.

A Golden Land

High and dry on the Columbia Plateau, Sherman County's most important crop is soft white winter wheat. Moisture laden spring winds from the Pacific Ocean and a summer fallow farming system permit dryland wheat and barley production. A crop is raised only once in two years; every other year the land lies fallow, gathering moisture for the next crop. Grain is trucked from the July and August harvest fields to cooperative elevators and barge and rail shipping facilities at Biggs for transport to Portland. Supplementary income comes from beef cattle which graze the 223,000 acres of native grass range in early summer and on wheat stubble in the fall. Some families have small numbers of horses, hogs, llamas and sheep.

Town and Country Amenities

Down-to-earth, friendly and hard-working people live in the six small 
communities, each about nine miles apart, and on the outlying farms. The population of 1,900 is equally rural and urban. Many are descendants of early homesteaders and have strong ties to the land.

Businesses in Biggs, Rufus, Wasco, Moro, Grass Valley and Kent offer food services, variety goods, antiques, gifts, rock shops,  hunting and fishing guide services, farm implements and supplies, fuel and mechanical repairs.

"Biggs, the Desolate...There is more sand to the square rod at Biggs than anywhere in the world, and it is restless, roving hobo sand...Its vagaries have caused the Oregon Railway and Navigation officials more troubles and worry than all the floods and fires...[The sand] crawled onto the tracks and stayed there...more powerful than the great moguls, and stopped all traffic."
--John Cradelbaugh, The Oregonian, September 23, 1909

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200 Dewey Street, P.O. Box 173 - Moro, Oregon 97039
Phone: 541-565-3232
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