CANYON CITY, OR 97820
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On June 7, 1862, a group of California miners on their way to the new gold strike in Auburn camped on a stream near the John Day River. The next day William A. Allard struck gold that panned $18 to $20 a pan. It has been estimated that $26,000,000 was taken from this one small canyon – the richest single placer diggings in Oregon
The first miners into Canyon City were followed by the usual gamblers, dance hall girls and saloon keepers. The first saloon was in a tent, with a barrel of “rot gut” whiskey and a few tin cups. Tents were soon replaced by cabins, and within a few months Canyon City had several general stores, twelve saloons, and a sizeable boot hill. The main street was so narrow a team of horses couldn’t turn around. Within the year, it is said that 5,000 worked along the gulch, and another 5,000 in the upper valley.
The townsite was laid out on July 20, 1862; the post office opened in April, 1864. That same year, Grant County was carved from Wasco county. Canyon City was named county seat, and the proud citizens built the Old Pioneer Courthouse. It wasn’t until 1891 that Canyon City was incorporated.
The town experienced three devastating fires in 1870, 1898, and 1937.
Today, Canyon City remains the county seat and the Courthouse stands at the intersection of Izee Street and Canyon City Blvd. (Highway 395). It is the third largest city in Grant County. It is the home of the Grant County Historical Museum, Joaquin Miller cabin, and the Greenhorn Jail where much of the history and treasure of this small town are kept.