People who live here – all 450 of them – often describe Huntington as “A Great Little City with a Big Heart.” From what I know so far, I’d say that residents here are absolutely big-hearted. They’re also big on their history.
Residents are quick to point out that Huntington is a town rich in lore – from its development directly in the path of the original Oregon Trail to its Sin City nickname, earned in the early late 1800s and early 1900s for its saloons, Chinese opium dens and gunslingers. Its location at the Eastern border of Oregon on the Snake River forced all early explorers and wagon trains through the pass up Burnt River and to the Powder River Valley.
In 1884, the rails of the Oregon Short Line and the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company line were joined in Huntington, making it a prime place for commerce, from mining to moving cattle. You can visit Huntington’s Historical Museum in the old church on First Street to learn more legend and lore.
Today, Huntington relies a little more on tourism and recreation for its livelihood. Any local will love to tell you about the Catfish Derby over Memorial Day weekend, now more than three decades old and going strong. The Hookers and Cookers event also takes place during that time.
For those who are less likely to visit on a crowded weekend, locals encourage travelers to visit anytime, particularly if they like to hunt, fish, bike, hike or ski. Consult some maps for the best trails. Camp right on the Snake River at Farewell Bend State Park, where Oregon Trail pioneers paused to rest and bid “farewell” to their easy passage through Snake River country before turning to the next great challenge – crossing the Blue Mountains just as winter arrived. Visit Lookout Mountain, the site of the Van Orman Massacre or The Hanging Tree. Consider a sternwheeler trip on the Snake River.
In town, be sure and stop at Howell’s Café and Lounge and Grady’s Tavern, where good food, conversation, cocktails and even karaoke await.