HEADING SOUTH FROM THE COLUMBIA RIVER…
Named for W.H. Biggs, a landowner who came to Sherman County from Ohio in 1880, this community also is known as Biggs Junction, because it is located at the intersection of highways US-97 and I-84. Possible side trips: crossing the Columbia River to visit Maryhill Museum of Art; watching nearby windsurfers; walking a portion of the Oregon Trail between Hwy. 206 and Biggs; heading east to see the John Day Dam.
SHERMAN COUNTY MUSEUM
Located in the town of Moro, this is one of the finest community-supported museums in Oregon. Its collection includes over 15,000 historical artifacts related to the Oregon Trail, early ranching and farming and Native American Culture. Experiencing the links to the past, visitors enjoy period rooms of early Oregon life, Indian artifacts and tools used by blacksmiths, ranchers and farmers.
Currently considered one of Oregon’s most representative “living” ghost towns, Shaniko was known for a short time in the early 1900’s as the “Wool Shipping Center of the World.” This reflects the era’s high demand for wool needed for clothing, blankets and military uniforms. The region’s abundant grass and dry climate made it ideal for raising millions of ship. Thanks to the completion of the Columbia southern Railroad in 1901 which connected the Columbia Gorge with Shaniko, this town remained for ten years the principal shipping point for much of interior Oregon. During this period, numerous stage and freight routes operated out of town, linking it with communities to the south and east. Visitors often stay at the historic Shaniko Hotel, rebuilt in 1901 after a disastrous fire. It was completely renovated in 2001 and is on the National Register of Historic places.
The hills around here are a prime habitat for the town’s prong-horned namesake. If you’re on the lookout for the animals, be warned that they are very well camouflaged. According to historical research, members of a supply expedition bringing food and tools to the John Day gold miners probably named Antelope in 1862.
The historic town, established in the 1880’s was named when a fossilized mammoth bone was found in the vicinity. True to its name, Fossil offers visitors a chance to do some free prospecting at the public fossil-collecting site in town. This ancient lakebed deposit contains numerous leaf imprints of ancient deciduous trees as well as a few vertebrate fossils.
Wild and scenic raft trips down the John Day River leave from Service Creek, which once was a stagecoach stop. Today, a picnic area, parking and a boat launch are available.
In the early 1900s, this historic location was the site of a ferry crossing that allowed freight wagons, stage passengers, cattle and gold to cross the John Day River and connect with The Dalles Military Road father west. Now you’ll find the locals proudest of their spirited Memorial Day festivities, featuring a rodeo and a half marathon, occasionally run by competitors shod in cowboy boots.
Farmers in the area are known for extensive orchards, which produce a bounty of cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, apples and pears. once a historic stage stop at a fork in the John Day River, Kimberly’s modern-day visitors will find this a delicious stop during harvest season. Farm stands are full of local fruit.