Sunday, September 14, 2008

Small Town America - Condon, Oregon

I picked Condon, Oregon for the fourth town in my Small Town America series, but my research on the town didn't bring up a lot of information. I do know that Condon is located at the junction of Oregon highways 206 and 19 in Gilliam County and boasts a tiny little Powell Books store. Who would have imagined that there was a Powell Books out in the middle of wheat country hundreds of miles from Portland? It's located inside an adorable little shop that has everything from fresh cut flower arrangements to a soda fountain. Really cute and well worth a stop if you're in the area. Open Sundays! I grew up in a small farming town where nothing was open on Sundays, so was amazed at this little fact.

Condon has a population of around 700 people and was originally known as Summit Springs. The town is now named after a local attorney from years ago, I know not why the name was changed, only that it was. I suppose I could make up a good story to go along with it, but would probably be called out by someone who knows the real story and I don't duel well, so we'll just leave it at that for now. I do know that two, yes count them, TWO Nobel-prize winners have lived in Condon. A Dr. Linus Pauling was presented with the award for his work in Chemistry in 1954 and again for peace in 1962, while a Dr. William Parry Murphy won the Nobel-prize in 1934 for medicine. I certainly would like to know those stories and will need to do a bit more research to find out more. Fascinating!

Pretty parks and pretty girls are to be found in Condon. Oh, wait. That's Shilo, she's going home with me!

Looking up Main Street in Condon. Right next to the hotel is the Liberty Theatre which I understand has been restored also. Condon is a sweet small town that has some very cute shops that we would have like to visit had it not been a late Sunday afternoon. I very much may go back someday when there's more time to poke around. I did see some really nice old houses also. Old houses, old stores and small towns are a big weakness of mine. Real people live here. Real lives are lived and characters are made.

Hotel Condon was built in the 1920's and has been beautifully restored by Taylor's family. It boasts really nice guest rooms, a restaurant that serves some incredible food and a great little bar. It was an absolutely perfect setting for a bridal shower.

Leaving Condon and headed for home. What will we see in this beautiful farm country? What might be around that next bend?

Ah, two of my favorite things ~ windmills and old abandoned buildings always start the stories going in my mind. Who lived here? was this a house, a shed, a barn, a school? What did the windmill power? Does it still work?

Windmills - Did I mention Windmills? Hundreds of windmills? This country is known as the High Plateau Columbia River Region and the Columbia River Gorge produces great amounts of wind. Driving home, we were amazed by the vast amounts of new white windmills for as far as the eye could see. What an incredible resource. The windmills themselves are kind of mesmerizing. Could be dangerous for this driver who could get lost in those turning blades. Along this lonely stretch of highway there are many old wooden windmills next to the new ones. That second picture is my attempt at trying to capture the new and the old together: the old standing tall and proud but making way for the young ones who are creating energy for so many.

It was a hazy day, due to some fires in the area so we could catch glimpses of some of the incredible mountains to the south, but nothing ever clear enough for pictures. A hot drive in early September, but beautiful and off the beaten path which is where I like to be.

I hope you enjoyed your little visit to Condon and Gilliam County, Oregon. Be sure to stop by the soda fountain for a cool drink when you're in the area.


Adrienne said...

Oh Paula, thank you for the tour of Condon. It was like a trip down memory lane! When my sweetheart and I were first married we lived in another small town in that area of Oregon. Dufur, Oregon. Population 525! Dufur High and Condon High were rivals in sports. My sweetie was the pastor of a small church in Dufur and needed to work part time to add to the income from the dear little congregation there. He drove school bus and often drove our sports teams to Condon. Our little house was just at the north end of town - right by the 'Entering Dufur' sign. One morning we woke to find that during the night someone had switched signs and visitors to our little town were now greeted by a sign that said 'Entering Condon!' Too funny! It wasn't posted there for long.

Powell's Books in Condon? Who would have thought. I loved the tour and the interesting information about this small community in one of my favorite parts of our wonderful state. I didn't know Dr. Linus Pauling was from Condon. Proof that folks from small town America can make important contributions to our world. I remember when he won the Nobel Prize in 1962.

Thanks for taking us with you.

Terri said...

I love small towns. Even though living there can drive you crazy sometimes! LOL

Wouldn't it be cool to own a hotel like that? Was it gorgeous inside?

Britt-Arnhild said...

Thank you so much for taking me along :-)

Lucy said...

I love the downtown areas of small town America!! Not to mention the unique restaurants that can be found tucked away from neon lights and gaudy signs, if you look in the right places. Thanks for sharing this gem :)

Shelby said...

I'm fascinated by the hotel.. I'd like to stay there and just read and read and read old books.. and take pictures of passersby.. oh you know how to make me smile. Thanks for this! said...

What a lovely tour! Thank you! I too wonder about old abandoned buildings! Who built them? Who played in them as a child? Who got their very first kiss there? What storms have they seen?


tipper said...

I love love your small town posts! Like you I want to know all about the who, why, and where of it all!

Just amazing pictures. Love the windmills.

happy zombie said...

Thank you for another great trip to small town America! I often wonder what it's like to live in a town of 700... and wonder if everyone knows everyone.

We've driven on the highway (brainfart of what the number is)... K. Falls to the Columbia river... and I know "What might be around that next bend?"... it's another bend. And then another bend. And another... and then at some point there's a diner in somewhere-small-town-America in the middle of nowhere-in-Oregon... and that diner was full of all locals breakfasting, and they were the friendliest people ever. The word "traveler" was written all over our faces (or maybe they saw the Calif. plates on our car). People walked by our table and said hello, and asked us about our travels - friendly chit chat that was all code for 'welcome to our town and we're glad you stopped'. One of the nicest experiences of my life. This little in-the-middle-of-nowhere town is for ever the someplace-special-town in my heart. Even if I can't remember where it was.

Mary said...


I enjoyed your vignette of Condon. I also love the old fashioned windmills. I'm not quite as enthused about the look of the modern ones, but they do a great job.

Thanks for taking me to this beautiful little town.


LEArning4Him: Lea Family Homeschool said...

I read in the paper last night that the safest place to live is in Condon, Oregon!

I just love that area of the state.

Love Bears All Things said...

I enjoyed this little travelogue. I like towns like that but where are the trees in that landscape scene?
Mama Bear

Shawnee said...

This was the only town with ZERO crime! Great post!!

Anonymous said...

I live in Portland and own a rental property in Condon. It's a great small town with welcoming and friendly people, unlike some Eastern Oregon communities. The landscape is beautiful around Condon, especially towards Lone Rock. However, this town suffers economically like many small towns and needs your support even if it's to visit. There are several projects going on currently there to stimulate the economy but tourism dollars can really help. It has a historic Main St. and 2 buildings are currently going through restoration projects. A farmer's market was also started there this year. This could be the next "up and community" small town in Oregon and you can buy a house for $60,000!!! Rental properties do really well here. Enjoy your visit!

Darla said...

Its great to read how much other people have enjoyed our town. It is like Mayberry RFD where you might expect to see Opie coming out of the store. I am the owner of Country Flowers and have had the store for 21 years...back when it was beginning to look like a ghost town. WHen we restored our building there wasnt a place in town to buy a nail even! There is a lot of community pride and people appreciate the quality of life we have there. Please come and visit any time and stop in COUNTRY FLOWERS and say hello. Better yet move there! Darla Seale