The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, July 31, 2019, Page 2, Image 18

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Blue Mountain Eagle
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
FROM LEFT: The control panel for the Fremont Powerhouse is all lit up for visitors touring the historic site. The Fremont Powerhouse was built in 1903 to supply power to the Red Boy Mine
and was rebuilt after snow collapsed the roof in 1993. Homes used by the staff who operated the Fremont Powerhouse are now available as cabin rentals through the Forest Service. A family
looks behind the control panel at the historic Fremont Powerhouse.
Historic Fremont Powerhouse
a gem at the small town of Granite
Restored cabins are
available for rent
By Richard Hanners
Blue Mountain Eagle
he gold mining boom and
bust in Oregon’s Blue Moun-
tains left a legacy of altered
landscapes and industrial-sized
historical artifacts that draw visi-
tors from around the U.S.
The town of Granite, at 4,660
feet elevation, is a good exam-
ple. Albert Tabor discovered gold
in Granite Creek on July 4, 1862,
hence the town’s original name
of Independence. Tabor was the
only merchant in town in 1874 and
became its first postmaster.
The town really took off by
1899, when it was incorporated
with 5,000 people. Granite in 1900
claimed six hotels and restau-
rants, including a 65-room hotel,
25 retail stores, two newspapers,
four saloons, a gravity-fed water
system, an electric power and light
station, two churches and a public
Twelve producing mines and
2,122 mining sites in the immedi-
ate area supported the local econ-
omy, including the Red Boy Mine.
But it all came to a screeching halt
in 1942 when the War Production
Board shut down gold mining in
the U.S., deeming it a non-essen-
tial war effort.
fourth-smallest incorporated town
in Oregon, with 38 residents in
2010 — up from 24 in 2000. It
lies along the Elkhorn Drive Sce-
nic Byway, a 106-mile closed-
loop route popular with bicyclists,
motorcyclists and car tourists.
The Lodge at Granite is open
year-round. Call 541-744-5200 for
reservations. The Outback Country
Store is open in summer and hunt-
Eagle photos/Richard Hanners
Visitors learn about the twin generators at the historic Fremont Powerhouse.
ing season from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,
closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The store sells gas and diesel and
has an RV park in back. Call 541-
755-5300 for information.
About 8 miles northwest of
Granite is the historic Fremont
Powerhouse and four restored
rental cabins. The National Reg-
ister of Historic Places and Ore-
gon’s State Historic Preservation
Office list the complex as a his-
toric district.
The Romanesque building
houses two 500 kilowatt genera-
tors and a control panel built from
an 11-foot wide piece of blue Flo-
rentine marble. Redwood and steel
pipes once carried water eight
miles away and 1,100 feet down-
hill from a dam built at Olive Lake
to drive the turbines.
Built in 1903, the powerhouse
originally furnished power for the
Red Boy Mine, which relied on
steam power. As mining slowed
down in the 1920s, the plant was
connected to generating plants
at Cove, La Grande and Baker to
form Eastern Oregon Power &
Light. The Fremont facility also
powered the gold mining dredge at
The powerhouse was sold to
California Pacific Public Utilities
Co. and then shut down in Octo-
ber 1967.
The next year, the company
donated the entire complex to the
U.S. Forest Service. After snow
from a winter storm in 1993 col-
lapsed the powerhouse building’s
roof, the Forest Service consid-
ered dismantling the building and
its generating equipment.
That’s when Joe Batty, a long-
time Oregon National Guardsman
who worked with his wife, Sha-
ron, at the powerhouse from 1968-
1981, came in and saved the facil-
ity. From 1999 through 2005, Batty
and a crew of guardsmen rebuilt
the 2,300-square-foot building and
the four cabins.
About 1,000 visitors typically
stop at the site each year. The Fre-
mont Caretakers Cabin and the
Fremont Congo Gulch Cabin each
sleep 10 and rent for $80 per night;
the Fremont Hilltop Hideaway
sleeps four and is $55 per night;
and the Fremont Miners Retreat
sleeps six and is $65 per night. For
reservations, call 1-877-444-6777
or visit
To get to Granite from John
Day, drive east on Highway 26
to Austin Junction, follow State
Route 7 for 25 miles, turn left on
State Route 410 and drive about 20
miles to Granite. To get to Fremont
Powerhouse, turn left at Granite on
County Road 24 and drive about 6
For more information, call
the North Fork John Day Ranger
Station at 541-427-3231 or visit
Grubsteak Mining Co.
An old schoolhouse is used as
a museum in the small town of
Saturday, August 3
11am to 3pm
Restaurant & Lounge
Guided rides, free demos,
on-site repairs, kids skills k
park, BBQ & beer, and more!
Open 7 days
a week
11 am - 9 pm
Live Music 1pm to 3pm
Hood River’s
Greenneck Daredevils
Lounge & Lottery
Great Burgers & Steaks!
Take-out • Lunch • Dinner
l use
149 E Main St., John Day
Depot RV Park
B eer , BourBon , Beans and
Bacon - we have it all !
• Souvenirs
& gifts
• Snacks
• Hot & cold
• Beer & liquor
20 Full RV Hookups - 30 amp
20 Covered
Full RV Hookups
- 30 amp • Covered Picnic Area
Picnic Area & Playground
Sites & Shower
Sites • & Tent
Quiet Setting
Quiet Setting
• Wi-Fi
4 blocks south of Hwy 26 on Main Street
Prairie City • 541-820-3605
Open Mon-Sat 8am - 7pm
Sun 9am - 5pm
• Groceries & Snacks • Fishing/Hunting Licenses
• Bait • Fishing Gear • Trapping Supplies
• Non-Ethanol Fuel • Beer & Wine
• Boat & Paddle Board Rentals
270 W. Franklin St., Dayville
Mon-Sat, 8AM-6PM • Sun, 10AM-4PM
41345 Hwy. 19, Kimberly, OR • (541) 934-2060