Island City, Union County, Oregon

One of the early communities which threatened for a time to deprive La Grande of its commercial leadership in the western section of the Grande Ronde Valley was Island City. As its name implies, it is situated on an island about eight miles long and from a mile to a half-mile in width, formed by the Grande Ronde river and encircling slough The first settler on the island was Joseph Magrue, who settled on land claimed by John Caviness. Magrue was induced to move from the Caviness land being given a pack horse in payment for the improvements he had made upon it. This land is that on which Island City is now located. Alexander Furgason was another of the early settlers, taking up a claim on the Island in 1862.
     The erection of a grist mill in 1872 by John Caviness and his partner a Mr. Sterling. began the commercial activity of the town, Another of the pioneer business men was Charles Goodnough, who set up a store and in 1884 organized the Island City Mercantile & Milling Company one of the largest business enterprises of Union County in the 19th century. Much of its business was drawn from La Grande. The milling interest was sold to the Pioneer Flour and Milling Company in 1896.
    Island City was designated a post office in 1673 with Mr. Sterling as the postmaster. The First National Bank of Island City was organized in the same year by John Caviness, R. M. Steel and Mr. Goodnough. The bank structure is today occupied by the Pioneer Flouring Mills as an office building.
     The first school in Island City was opened in 1865, John Cavines defraying practically all the expenses of its operation, including a salary to the teacher.


Contributed by: Jim Reavis

 Union County



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