Union County is steeped in the history of the West. Follow the Oregon Trail or the adventures of Lewis and Clark. Explore Native American culture and cowboy lore. Bust out your cowboy hat and attend a live rodeo. We’re home to top-notch museums, and two of our downtowns are listed on the National Historic Registry.
For thousands of years, Native Americans were drawn to the Grande Ronde Valley to hunt, gather food, and graze their horses. The abundant resources drew several different –often warring— tribes. For a few months during the summer, the Nez Perce, Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla and Shoshone tribes lived together in harmony in what they called "The Valley of Peace."
Although settlers passed through the valley while en route along the Oregon Trail in the early 1840s, few were willing to be deterred from their Willamette Valley goal. But early in the 1860s, many settlers took notice of the Grande Ronde Valley's resources, establishing farms and settlements. With the discovery of gold, the valley began to prospered and thrive.