In the mid and late 1800s, the North Fork John Day drainage was bustling with gold and silver mining. In the rush, mining towns popped up here and there, only to be left to ruin as the mining dwindled. The nearby town of Granite is one such ghost town, with weathered buildings and the graves of prospectors and pioneers who came to seek their fortunes.
In 1903, local mines began to notice a decline in earnings and promoted construction of a cheaper power source in an effort to operate the mines more economically. As a result, the Fremont Powerhouse was constructed and began operation in 1908. Two dams were constructed at Olive Lake and water from the lake was piped through an eight-mile-long wood and steel pipeline to the powerhouse to generate the much needed electricity. A large portion of the building collapsed in 1992 under a heavy snow load. The Oregon National Guard, led by retired Command Sergeant Major Joe Batty, reconstructed the powerhouse and cabins from 1999 through 2005. The powerhouse contains pictures and artifacts from a bygone era. There is a local caretaker who gives tours when he is on site.