A Snippet of Central Oregon Development
The present site of Dufur was called 15 Mile Crossing by the early immigrants who paused to rest here on their way to the Barlow Trail. Around 1852, the first settler to settle here was L.P. Henderson; four additional families later joined him. In 1855, ten families from the Willamette Valley heading towards Walla Walla by way of the Barlow Trail turned back to 15 Mile Crossing after hearing of the Whitman massacre. In 1863, David Imbler built the Fifteen Mile House located at the present site of the Pastime. The building was only a barn but served as a welcome stop for those traveling the Barlow Trail. In 1872, Andrew Jackson Dufur Jr. and his brother Enoch Burnham Dufur arrived at 15 Mile Crossing. They were looking for land to raise cattle, sheep, and horses. Andrew and Enoch purchased 600 acres from George Bourland.
In 1878, Chancey A. Williams built a store; the store served as the Post Office. For the town to get an official Post Office, the town had to have a name. Mr. Williams asked Andrew J. Dufur Sr. if he could submit his name, Mr. Dufur said no. Mr. Williams went ahead and submitted the name Dufur in honor of A.J. Dufur Sr. worked for the State of Oregon. Mr. Dufur in 1876 represented the state of Oregon at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. He took many exhibits of the west with him. He dined with the President and was even given a silver coffee urn! These and other Dufur family memorabilia are on display in the Schriber log cabin. Dufur was incorporated by the Oregon Legislature Feb. 6, 1893.
In 1911 a group of businessmen visited Dufur. They purchased the Johnston ranch and planted fruit trees. After several years The Dufur Orchard Co. was established. They eventually planted 4000 acres in orchard on hills north and west of Dufur and Boyd. By 1919, 400 people were employed at harvest time. However, for the apples to mature properly, the orchard needed more rainfall than it received during 1922-23 and to bring water to the trees proved to be too costly. By 1925 all hope of saving any of the orchards were lost and the land was returned to wheat. The Orchard Company contributed to the early growth of the town. By 1920, there were two general stores, a Lodge hall, a restaurant, hotel, bowling alley, and movie theater. Once the trees were removed and the railroad no longer ran, the population returned to around 500.
Today Dufur maintains and average population of 550 to 600 people. With the construction of highway 197 travel to The Dalles for activities, supplies, and jobs helped return Dufur to the small rural community of its roots.