La Grande is a city in Union County, Oregon, United States. Originally named “Brownsville,” it was forced to change its name because that name was being used for a city in Linn County. Take a look below for 15 great and interesting facts about La Grande, Oregon, United States.
1. Located in the Grande Ronde Valley, the city’s name comes from an early French settler, Charles Dause, who often used the phrase “La Grande” to describe the area’s beauty.
2. The population was 13,082 at the 2010 census.
3. It is the county seat of Union County.
4. La Grande lies east of the Blue Mountains and southeast of Pendleton.
5. The Grande Ronde Valley had long been a waypoint along the Oregon Trail.
6. The first permanent settler in the La Grande area was Benjamin Brown in 1861.
7. Not long after, the Leasey family and about twenty others settled there. The settlement was originally named after Ben Brown as Brown’s Fort, Brown’s Town, or Brownsville.
8. There was already a Brownsville in Linn County, so when the post office was established in 1863, a more distinctive name was needed.
9. It was decided to use “La Grande”, a phrase used by a Frenchman, Charles Dause, to describe the area’s scenic splendor.
10. Before the post office was established, William Currey charged 50 cents a letter to carry the mail on horseback to and from the nearest post office, in Walla Walla, Washington. La Grande was incorporated as a city in 1865, and platted in 1868.
11. La Grande grew rapidly during the late 1860s and early 1870s, partially because of the region’s many gold mines and the valley’s agricultural capabilities. The early business establishments centered on C Avenue between present day Fourth Street and the hillside on the west end.
12. In 1884, the railroad came to the flat slightly east of “Old Town”. This helped the town to grow and gave rise to “New Town”, centered on Adams Avenue and built parallel to the railroad tracks.
13. By 1900, La Grande’s population was 2992, representing half of the population of Baker City.
14. La Grande’s Eastern Oregon University, formerly known as Eastern Oregon State College, began in 1929 as Eastern Oregon Normal School, a teachers college.
15. La Grande had a factory for processing sugar beets into raw sugar. The sugar beets came from the nearby Mormon town of Nibley, Oregon, and both were owned by the Oregon Sugar Company. R. Doerstling, the superintendent of the factory in 1899, reported seeing a Native American teepee built out of used cloth filters from the factory.