Sisters Country

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This timeline is a work-in-progress. Corrections and additions will be made as they become known.
45 to 36 million years
Volcanic eruptions in the Cascade Crest
36 to 18 million years
Powerful eruptions blast huge volumes of ash into ancient skies. Widespread destruction. Plants and animals become fossils.
17 to 15 million years
Great lava floods. Flows dammed the ancient Deschutes River below Round Butte Dam. Sediments form the Simtusus Formation.
9 million years
Violent volcanoes in Sisters Country
8 million years
Castle Rock volcano formed (Five Fingered Sentinel) Oldest land in Sisters Country
4.5 to 2.5 million years
Violent earthquakes cause top of Cascade Range to break up and sink.
2.5 million years
First familiar landforms take shape: Green Ridge, Metolius River Canyon, Deschutes River Canyon, Lower Desert, and Dry Canyon NE of Sisters.
400,000 years
Abbott Butte Glaciation
390,000 years
Huge eruption at Tumalo Highlands
280,000 years
First of six volcanoes erupt in Mt. Jefferson
130,000 years
Jack Creek Glaciation
100,000 years
Broken Top and first of Three Sisters erupt. (North Sister) Three Finger Jack and Mt. Washington begin to erupt; Middle Sister and South Sister erupt.
25,000 years
Last Great Ice Age begins – Ice sheet and glaciers carve deep canyons
14,000 years
Evidence of First Americans found in eastern Central Oregon
10,000 years
Glaciers retreat, land warms, flora and fauna improve.
7,700 years
Evidence of First Americans moving into Sisters Country. Tenino and Northern Paiute legend support use of these lands for huckleberry, root and nut gathering, fishing and hunting.
Mt. Mazama erupts, forming Crater Lake and covering much of the area with pumice and ash.
3,200 years
Eruption of Sand Mountain
1,500 years
Blue Lake is formed filling a deep crater
1640-1870 AD
Little Ice-age. Glaciers grow larger; the later retreat leaves behind moraine-dams from South Sister to Mt. Jefferson.
Spaniard, Manuel Quimper, mapped the Cascade Range.
Lewis and Clark note the snow-capped peaks of the “Western Mountains,” (Cascade Range) including a note about what is now Mt. Jefferson.
July 6, 1825
Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudson Bay Co. camped by Why-Chus Creek two miles west of Squaw Flat. The next day he fed horses on meadows thought to be at Indian Ford.
Explorers, James C. Fremont and Charles Abbot, encounter Indians along the Metolius River.
Sept. 23, 1855
Pacific Railroad Survey Company camps on Why-Chus Creek, later called Squaw Creek and renamed again in 2006 to Whychus Creek.
Group of men from Lebanon, Oregon scout route for eastern road over Cascades; becomes Santiam Wagon Road, completed in 1865.
Oregon becomes the 33rd state in the Union.
Act of Congress approved allowing settlers to homestead on lands in the Public Domain.
Gold Rush in Idaho causes Willamette Valley ranchers to push cattle east over Cascades for lucrative sale in gold area.
Sept. 28, 1865
Captain Charles LaFollette and forty men from Company A, 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry establish a military camp at Camp Polk.
May 24, 1866
Camp Polk, abandoned by Company A 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry.
Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon approved, “An Act donating certain lands to the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Wagon Road Company.”
Fish Lake Guard Station established. (It operated until 1907)
Diversion of water from Squaw Creek for use on individual farms.
Samuel Hindman and family, one of the first settles in Central Oregon, establishes a homestead near the abandoned Camp Polk.
Recording of the Cascade or "McKinzies" Trail on Platte map
Fire suppression begins in forest areas near early settlements.
First recorded water rights in Central Oregon taken by Charles J. Hindman, who took water out of the Big Slough on Indian Ford Creek at Camp Polk.
Water rights from Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek) are appropriated.
Three families, including that of JB Claypool, settle along (Squaw) Whychus Creek in an area that had been a traditional summer camping ground for Native Americans.
May 18, 1875
Post office established at Hindman Ranch.
Camp Polk Cemetery started.
E.A. Graham homesteaded on present site of Graham Corrals (six miles west of Sisters.)
Alfred Cobb settled two miles east of Sisters (Lazy Z Ranch)
Simon Bodyfelt claimed area around Cold Springs (four miles west of Sister)
John and Mark Wilt settles, obtaining first water rights on Pole Creek.
Five homesteading families established on the upper Metolius River (Camp Sherman area.)
Black Butte School built near First Creek in Camp Sherman area.
Winter 1883-84
Heavy snows, up to six feet in depth, kill many cattle. Some ranchers report losses of fifty percent.
David and Margaret Allingham homestead downstream for Camp Sherman. This area later becomes Allingham Guard Station.
John and Mark Wilt homestead just west of what becomes the town of Sisters.
Four families in Plainview area file for water rights from Three Creeks Lake.
Joe Claypool homesteads just south of today’s town of Sisters.
Post office moved from Camp Polk to area just north of present City of Sisters.
Homestead Certificate No 593 for Joseph B Claypool filed.
T. Egenton Hogg employs over 1000 men to attempt to build a railroad over Santiam Pass. He builds eleven miles of road and then abandons the operation.
First Squaw (Whychus Creek) Canal built by Sam Davis.
Cox Mill built – run by water power – two miles south of Sisters.
One-room school house built at east end of Sisters.
Homestead Certificate No 2157 claim for Jacob Quiberg filed.
Homestead Certificate No 2136 claim for Robert G Smith filed.
Homestead Certificate No 1471 claim for Benjamin C Beaman filed.
Homestead Certificate No 1472 claim for John J Smith filed.
Oscar Maxwell builds the Maxwell Ditch, drawing water from Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek) to Plainview.
Homestead Certificate No 1856 claim for John H Smith filed.
Homestead Certificate No 1919 claim for John W Wilt filed.
Homestead Certificate No 2007 claim for Erastus F Buchanan filed.
Cascade Range Forest Reserve established. Became Cascade National Forest in 1905.
Homestead Certificate No 1918 claim for Marcus J Wilt filed.
President Grover Cleveland creates the Cascade Forest Reserve, ending homesteading along the Metolius River.
Carey Act of 1894 – encouraged the reclaiming of arid lands by setting aside up to one million acres of public lands that the states could sell to settlers or irrigation companies who agreed to construct and operate the necessary canal systems.
Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek) irrigation District organized.
Cache Creek Toll Station is built
George Scott became gatekeeper of the toll gate: traded land to acquire sixty acres along Indian Ford creek.
A two-room school is built on present Sisters grade school site. Later moved twice, became the Barkley home, later Conklin House.
First school house built in Cloverdale on the George Cyrus place.
Brothers Robert and Alex Smith plat the town of Sisters. Plat reads: “All lots 40 feet front by 114 feet and all blocks 140 feet square … bisected east and west by alleys 12 feet wide. Street 80 feet wide …”
Mill near Melvin Butte established.
Black Butte Land and Livestock Company incorporated. (Dissolved in 1918)
Cascade Range Forest Reserve Report – attempt to protect forest lands for the future.
First automobile to cross Santiam Pass, car was part of a transcontinental race.
Cascade National Forest created from Cascade Range Forest Reserve.
First mill established in Plainview.
April 1906
“Spring of the Brown Snow,” because of heavy winds in the Columbia Gorge whipping fine dust into the air, Central Oregon experience a 10 inch “brow snow” storm.
Plainview School established. (Burned in 1973) built to serve Gist-Plainview area children.
Deschutes National Forest established on east side of Deschutes River.
First Ranger posted to Sisters Ranger District.
Mill established southeast of Sisters (near Lazy Z Ranch)
Hardy Allen House built (Main and Larch) Hardy Allen’s father, Albert, was a soldier with Company A at Camp Polk.
Homestead Certificate (number missing) claim for James B Palmer filed.
Mill established in Sisters.
Fire lookout built on Black Butte
McCaffery Addition dedicated to the City of Sisters. Had been part of the original John Smith homestead.
First recorded “bucking contest,” using wild horses, held in Sisters.
Land west of the Deschutes River added to Deschutes National Forest.
October 5, 1911
First train arrives in Bend: James Hill, owner of the Great Northern RR, completes his railroad to Bend, known as the Oregon Trunk Railroad.
Mill established at Indian Ford.
Hotel Sisters built
Two-story building constructed to house 2-year high school and grade school.
Ellis Edgington settles on 1200 acres two miles south of Sisters.
Mel Herrington purchases ranch one mile southeast of Sisters.
Very wet year, 23.46 inches of moisture, followed by several years of drought.
One-room school built on the William Wilt homestead.
First Annual Fair and Race Meet – Three-day event with horse racing and agricultural exhibits held in Sisters.
Jefferson County established from a portion of Crook County.
Sister Fair Association, May Day Celebration, held to promote cooperation between farmers and businessmen.
Carl T Hubbard established first guest ranch in Central Oregon on the Metolius River, known as Hubbard Ranch or “El Rancho.”
October 1915
Second Annual Sisters Fair is held.
Brooks Scanlon opens mill in Bend.
Shelvin Hixon opens mill in Bend and sets up the moveable town that becomes Shelvin.
US Forest Service begins leasing lands along the Metolius River for summer homes.
Deschutes County established from a portion of Crook County.
Winters 1916 & 1917
Very bad drought years, many homesteaders lose crops and cattle.
May 13, 1916
Sisters stages a Race Meet. About 200 people attend to see many of the country’s best horses compete in harness races.
Settlers in Squaw Creek Irrigation District (Whychus Creek) vote for $175,000 in bonds to purchase the Long Hollow Ranch from the Black Butte Land and Livestock Company, including the water rights, ditches and diversion works.
Camp Sherman Store established.
New Black Butte schoolhouse built at Camp Sherman, to replace the 1882 building.
New dam and head gate at Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Flood destroys 1919 Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek) dam
Brook trout introduced to Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Hanson’s Resort, Camp Sherman, begins operation as a summer resort offering tents for its guests. Cabins are built in 1924. In 1935 Hanson’s becomes Lake Creek Lodge.
A 110 foot high ponderosa pine is limbed and turned into a lookout tower in downtown Sisters. Tower is toppled in 1926 after the tree rots.
Three Creeks road built, providing access to lake and recreation.
May 11, 1923
Fire starts in an unattended garage in Sisters. Fire destroys buildings on South side of Cascade Street, including ten businesses and residences, one being the Sisters Drug Store and Post Office. Records lost for Squaw Creek Irrigation District (Whychus Creek)
George and Grace Aitken move a one-story building to site of burned drugstore and post office. Add a second story with living quarters and storage in 1931.
The first golf course in Central Oregon opens at the Hansen Ranch near Camp Sherman, in what today is known as Metolius Meadows.
Sept. 11, 1924
Fire starts in a defective flue in the Gist Hotel destroying buildings on both sides of Cascade Street between Fir and Spruce. “Half of Pioneer Town is Leveled by Flames,” The Bend Bulletin. “Fire fought by every man in the community. Efforts Hampered by the lack of fire fighting equipment.”
Winter 1924-25
Severe winter with heavy snow.
Linn County bought all rights to the original road bed of the toll road over the McKenzie Pass and completed an automobile road over the pass. Spare tires were recommended.
Lookout cupola built on Black Crater.
Suttle Lake United Methodist Camp lease is obtained. The first Methodist camp is held at Suttle Lake in 1922.
Metolius River Market Road built allowing for direct travel between Sisters and Camp Sherman
Very little snow, another dry year for farmers and ranchers.
Spoo Mill, also known as MG Hitchcock Mill, built. Later moved to Mitchell.
Very cold winter with lots of snow.
Construction of the Santiam Highway begins.
Seventh-Day Adventist church begins (closed in the 1960s).
Emmett Knickerbockers and Hugh Amsberry open a nine-hole golf course just south of Sisters, called Knickerbocker Public Golf Course
On April 22, tornado strength winds uproot pines and flatten cabins in the Metolius Valley, Camp Sherman area.
A lodge is built at Camp Wingwaak at Scout Lake. In 1933 it is reported that 100 Scouts from all over Oregon and Washington use the camp during the summer.
Lookout cabin at Sand Mountain built
Lookout tower built at Trout Creek Butte
Lookout tower built on Cache Mountain
Mill established at Sundown Ranch.
Camp Tamarack is established at Dark Lake by Donna Gill and Lucille Murphy. Twelve girls attend the first summer.
Sisters High School establishes an orchestra.
Separate Sister High School building built. (This brick building is now used as school district administration offices and is on the National Register of Historic Places.)
Sisters residents volunteer and donate materials to build first library building.
Construction of Hoodoo Ski Bowl begins.
North Santiam Highway opens to traffic.
Jan 27th, Sisters Library opens as a branch of the Deschutes County Library.
Sisters City Park created in December as a State of Oregon park.
North Santiam Highway opened and Santiam Wagon Road officially closed.
Sisters first motor hotel or motel opens, Sisters Motor Lodge. This is the oldest building in Sisters still being used for the purpose for which it was built.
The first annual (official) Sisters Rodeo held at the Creighton place, northeast of downtown (near airport.) Two years later the Rodeo Grounds were moved a little west, onto Leithauser land, where Hoyt’s Hardware is today (2006).
Santiam “Ski” Lodge dedicated, built by CCC crew with enough dormitory space for 90 people. A snowmobile operates between the lodge and Hoodoo Ski Bowl.
Sisters become an incorporated city.
Brooks-Scanlon moves 37 “rail houses” including a schoolhouse and store from the Brooks-Scanlon Bull Springs logging camp to a site just west of downtown Sisters.
First separate elementary school built in Sisters.
New Black Butte schoolhouse built in Camp Sherman, replacing log building; 13 students enrolled.
Lodge at Hoodoo Ski Bowl is established. The new building is created from an abandoned officer’s quarters from Camp Adair in Corvallis that is cut into sections and moved to the site.
Artificial propagation of steelhead trout in Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Hitchcock Mill sold to Dant and Russell
Dant and Russell mill closed.
An estimated 1,000 steelhead trout spawn in Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Dant and Russell mill purchased by Leonard Lundgren and reopened. This mill was later moved to Bend
New Sisters grade school built to replace 1912 structure.
April 1956
“Spring of the Brown Rain,” was the result of heavy winds in the Palouse. The high winds brought “muddy rain” to Central Oregon, resulting from the fine dust being taken high into the atmosphere. Some think the dust may have actually acted as cloud seeding, causing substantial rain.
First hatchery reared adult steelhead trout return to Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Delton Dam built on Deschutes River.
Sisters Baptist Church begins services in building at Main and Elm streets.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints begins holding meetings in homes.
People in Sisters becoming concerned about the future of the town as mills close or move out of the area. Some begin discussing the idea of enacting an ordinance requiring an 1880s style for commercial buildings.
Wakefield Garage catches fire, embers jump across the street and burn much of the Leithauser Store merchandise.
Camp Davidson, operated by the Oregon District of the Assemblies of God, is established near Link Creek, just east of Suttle Lake.
St. Edward’s Catholic Church constructed on land donated by Rex Trowbridge.
Last mill closed in Sisters.
Johnson’s Sporting Goods store (Sisters) is burned, destroying the second floor and killing Mr. Johnson. Cause of the fire is a cigarette.
City of Sisters hit by major flood; took out highway bridge over Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek)
Round Butte Dam built on Deschutes River.
Last steelhead trout or Chinook salmon seen in Squaw Creek (Whychus Creek).
Sisters High School closed; students bussed to Redmond High School.
First meetings held at old high school for the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.
Black Butte Ranch, the Brooks Resources resort begins selling lots and Big Meadow Golf Course opens.
Black Butte Ranch – Many new homes built. Work begins on the Golf Course Condos, Ridge Cabins, Aspen Houses, Black Butte Homes and Ranch Houses. Construction of Paulina and South Meadow Pools.
Circle W Properties of Eugene, begins development of Metolius Meadows. It becomes the largest residential development in Camp Sherman.
Hard winter with heavy snow. Gil Ticoulat’s cattle were trapped in the Big Meadow at Black Butte Ranch. 42 inches of snow fall in 24 hours.
Jean Wells and Cathi Howells begin the first annual Sister Quilt Show; eleven quilts exhibited. The annual show is held the second Saturday of July.
Lutheran church begins services held at the home of Pastor Ylvisaker.
Hard winter with heavy snow. Black Butte Ranch uses a tractor to clear snow off Phalarope Lake for ice skating, the ice is 14 to 16 inches thick.
Mid-summer, Hap Taylor is excavating for utilities in Rock Ridge section of Black Butte Ranch and a fire starts. Borate bomber is called in.
City of Sisters passes ordinance requiring 1880s style store fronts.
Commercial development west of town, Three Winds Shopping Center, opened
Laurence Callwell, a bank robber on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, lives at Black Butte Ranch in South Meadow 76.
Retail sales employment in Sisters becomes the leading job classification.
New Sisters fire station constructed.
Fire burns east side of Black Butte's top.
January 3-4, 1982
A 68 inch snow fall closes Santiam Pass to all traffic.
New Sisters city park built, called “Village Green,” across from fire station.
Santiam Wagon Road placed on Register of National Historic Places
February 12-13, 1986
39 inches of snow falls at Camp Sherman.
Construction of a new Sisters Library building begun on old library’s 50th Birthday.
July 1980
Tollgate Fire burns 2,300 acres between Sisters and Black Butte Ranch.
Cascade Community Church members begin meeting in member’s homes.
New Sand Mountain Lookout Tower dedicated on August 18.
Sisters Industrial Park opens for business.
New Sisters High School opens, taking old mascot name, Outlaws.
June 1992
Sage Flat Fire, north-east of Sisters, 250 homes evacuated, 1000 acres and five homes burned.
Heavy snows. At Black Butte Ranch snow depth is up to four feet.
New lookout tower constructed on Black Butte.
Three Sisters Fellowship formed.
Sisters Seventh Day Adventist Church reopens.
Black Butte Ranch Historical Society founded, becomes Sisters Country Historical Society in 2003.
Cascade Community and Sisters Baptist churches merge to become Sisters Community Church
Sisters city voters pass a city sewer development measure
Construction of major new development west of Sisters, Pine Meadow Village
Black Butte Ranch – cache of bi-faced tools found next to Paulina Pool, dated to over 1000 years old.
Jananuary 2001
New lodge at Hoodoo Ski Bowl opens at the top of Santiam Pass.
July 2002, Cache Mountain Fire hits Black Butte Ranch, two homes lost.
August 2003, B&B Complex Fire causing Camp Sherman residents to evacuate twice for over a week of total time.
New Sisters Library building opens in December.
A McDonald’s opens in Sisters.
Squaw Creek renamed Whychus Creek
Sun Ranch Business Parks opens in Sisters
First Annual “Sisters area artists” art show held in New Sisters Library.
Copyright © 2006 Sisters Country Historical Society