Halfway, Baker County, Oregon

Pine Valley

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The city of Halfway was incorporated in 1908. The first Mayor was W.W. Lloyd, born in Saline Co., Mo in 1866, died in Halfway, OR in 1957. He married Ester Mills and they had 5 children. His uncle Joseph Bragg served as postmaster at Brownlee and at Pine. The first Post Office in Pine Valley was located on the A. P. Greener farm in 1878. A. P. Greener's daughter-in-law, Bessie Greener still lives on the farm and is 97 years old now. She recently received the Oregon Historical Society "Century Farm Award."

The town received its unique name because there was a post office located at Carson and one at Pine. It was decided to consolidate the two and permission to name it "Midway" was requested. The Postal officials replied that there was already a Midway, OR, and suggested the name of Halfway. Halfway was located in Union Co. until 1901, when it became part of Baker Co.

Charles L. Fee was the first known settler in Pine Valley. He trapped in the area in 1866. The first white child born in the valley was Claude Officer on Oct. 24, 1876. He was the son of the Frank Officers. He was born in a cabin on the Ed Greener farm.

The first school house was on the John Thayson Homestead. Thayson was a native of Denmark and a blacksmith by trade. He died in 1945. Anna Bragg married Ellis Leep, and taught the subscription school classes to 12 students. The log cabin school is still standing on the Aaron Ingalls Ranch.

Veron Layne came to Halfway from Union Co. in 1916 to teach school at the Sunnydale School. His mother, Rosetta Layne, operated the "Layne's Golden Rule Mercantile." The building still stands and Bill Nagy, a Hungarian Freedom Fighter, immigrant, has his TV repair shop in the building now.

                                                                                                     Rochelle Wyatt Photo
Public School, Halfway, Oregon

Vernon Layne was the first Secretary of the Pine Valley Fair that was begun in 1921. Serving with him on the Board of Directors was Joe Sample, Al Babcock, Reed Cooper and Norvill Greener. Norvill served for 40 years as fair Director, and 12 on the Baker County Fair Board. The present board is made up of members from both Pine Valley and Eagle Valley. Doug Payton is President, Jason Harriman - Vice President, Rhonda Hoover is Secretary, and Diane Davis serves as Treasurer. Other Directors are – Walt Butler, Mitch Hoover, Stan Gulick, Doug Wright, Dave Huff, Jim Estes, Mark Doyle, Charlene Imnoos, Don Traw, Rod Hammond, Lucky Miller and John Chandler.

The Christian Church was built in 1891, and the building is now being used by Sandy Kennedy's thriving business, "Wildflowers of Oregon," where many people are employed in making dried flower arrangements to be shipped all over the United States.

The economy of Halfway has been influenced by two developments: the discovery of gold and the building of the three Idaho Power Dams on the Snake River.

In 1884, Lon Simmons discovered gold and the gold boom began. The leading mines in the area were the Whitman, Red Jacket Union Companion, Last Chance, Wallingford, Queen of the West, and Valleyview. The town of Cornucopia had 300 people living there and 700 men were employed. The tunnels had about 86 miles of track underground for the quartz mining. Chris Schneider arrived at Cornucopia as a boy of 12 in 1897. For many years he worked there and finally served as the caretaker for many years. He died in 1975 in Halfway. The United Nuclear Corporation reopened the mine in 1980's but when the price of gold dropped, it was again closed down.

At the height of the gold boom, Richard Thomas Langrell, born 1844 in Ottawa, Canada, died 1918, in Baker, OR married a 15 year old girl named Clara Schellworth. They had 8 children. Mrs. Bruce Thomas of Baker was their daughter. He had a saw mill, grocery and mercantile business in 1881. He bought land from Jim Lee and Joe Motley and established the Jim Town store that is currently owned by Ken and John Perrinchier. In the 1880's Langrell sold meat to the miners at Cornucopia. A wagon carried one beef, 2 hogs, 3 lambs, several crates of eggs, flour, sugar, tobacco, and other items daily.

Mort Bloom hauled the supplies from Baker. Four-horse teams took two days to make the trip one way on the Sparta Road. When the Railroad was built to Robinette, on the Snake River, the freight could be picked up there and hauled by wagon to Halfway. Today, the Halfway Stage Trucking firm hauls the freight into the valley.

Joe Ludiker brought the first grist mill into Pine Valley in 1883. His granddaughter, Lena Buchanan, still resides in Halfway. The first sawmill was brought into the valley by E. B. Gaylord in 1882. There is a marker at the old Fort Lloyd site, placed there by W.W. Loyd in memory of his mother. She was widowed and raised a family of six children when young. The fort had 3 foot trenches, 100 ft. butts of 14 ft. pine trees that stood in the trench side by side, all over 2 feet through. It had a block house inside the stockade that was taller than the fence and it had port holes in the top to shoot from. Only the marker remains at the site now. Earl Thompson now owns the land. W.W. Lloyd's mother was Rebecca Ann West. The Halfway Museum has a photograph of her that was from Bessie Peterson's estate.

                                                                                                    Rochelle Wyatt Photo
Back of Post Card
This is a picture of the farm we owned a long time ago.  It was in the Northern end of the Valley. 
The picture was taken in the spring of the year. Notice the Pine Trees in the foreground

No. Pine Valley from the Granits near Halfway

In 1880, three Oliver brothers came from Cheotopka, Kansas in covered wagons. Henry, George and Charles Oliver all settled in Pine Valley. The present mayor of Halfway is Edwardine Oliver. She and her husband Bill Oliver had four children: William, Dennis, Francis and Charlie. Edwardine's husband was killed while working on the Hell's Canyon Dam. She was a registered nurse and in 1979 she was elected as mayor of Halfway, and presently is serving her third term. She has a twin sister, Jean Ebell, who lives in Baker, OR.

The dams that were constructed by Idaho Power were begun in 1955. The Brownlee Dam was completed in 1959. The Oxbow Dam was built in 1961 and then the Hells Canyon Dam. The cost of the Dams was $162 million. The expected yield from the Dams was $10 million annually in Federal, State and local taxes. The Brownlee reservoir is 57 miles long and provides pleasant recreational facilities.

The Eagle Cap Wilderness Area attracts many visitors. Just below the Last Chance mine, at an elevation of 7,500 ft., there is a giant yellow fir tree that is probably the largest in the world. It measures 32'6" around the stump and stands 64' high. The road up to Cornucopia was called "Bootlegger grade," as it was built by County prisoners during the prohibition days. There was a still set into operation in the area, and as long as there was whiskey, work proceeded as usual, but when it ran out, no work got done!

The town of Halfway now has a population of 380 people. The U.S. Forest Service employs quite a number of people, and the school system provides employment for about 65 residents. Ranching, timber and the tourist business are the principal supporters of the local economy.

Cornucopia Peak is at an elevation of 8,640 ft, and is the focal point of the beauty that surrounds the nice little town of Halfway.

Note: Bessie Greener, daughter-in-law of A.P. Greener, passed away some years ago, the ranch is now owned by her three nieces, Marjorie Harris, Barbara Demastus, and Opal Matile  

Used with the permission of The Baker County Historical Society, Copyright 1986 by
The Baker County Historical Society

                                                                                                 Rochelle Wyatt Photo
Downtown Halfway, Oregon
 Bank at end of the street, Gray Gables Hotel, left in picture

                                                                                                     Rochelle Wyatt Photo

Something is happening in Town

Closer View of above

                                                                                              Rochelle Wyatt Photo

Business Block, Halfway, Oregon

                                                                                 Rochelle Wyatt Photo

Downtown Halfway, Oregon

                                                                            Rochelle Wyatt Photo

Main Street, Halfway, Oregon

History of Baker County

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Pine Haven Cemetery

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