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|Welcome to Vale, Oregon
Vale is located on the Malheur River at the point where the wagons using the Oregon Trail crossed the river. Jonathan Keeney built the first building here on the banks of the Malheur River in 1864 – a crude log cabin that served travelers until the Stone House was built in 1872. The community was named Vale, meaning "valley" when the post office was established; the first school in Vale opened in 1887. The community was incorporated in 1889 and much later became the county seat for Malheur County. Malheur County itself is the only county in Oregon in the Mountain Time zone.
Today Vale is the heart of a rich agriculture area, with row crops being raised in the valley, dairy cows on the benches and beef cattle in the low hills surrounding the city. Oregon Trail Mushroom and Eagle-Picher Industries have plants in the Vale area. Oregon Trail Mushroom uses the natural occurring hot water from local springs in their operation. Cattle and livestock continue to play a role in the local economy with one of the largest livestock auction yards in Oregon holding a sale each Wednesday. Vale’s downtown area has recently received a beautiful renovation, including having the main streets repaved and modernized as well as new lighting, benches, and landscaping – the people of Vale are proud of their city, and it shows!
|Things to See and Places to Go
Rinehart Stone House
The original Rinehart Stone House was built in 1872 and was the first permanent building in Malheur County. This rustic sandstone building was located on the Oregon Trail replacing an earlier log house built by Jonathan Keeney. The Stone House provided a wayside stop for trail weary travelers until the early 1900s. It was also a haven for settlers during the Bannock Paiute uprising of 1878. Today, the recently restored Stone House is a museum displaying period relics and photos, as well as interpretative exhibits about the Oregon Trail. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is conveniently located on Main Street South in downtown Vale.
Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society
Vale has its own outdoor art gallery, featuring some 25 murals depicting Vale's history on the Oregon Trail, on the walls of various buildings throughout the town and on four metal murals placed outside the city limits to welcome visitors. The Vale Heritage Reflections Mural Society was founded in November of 1992 by individuals who wanted to revitalize Vale's economy and provide economic growth through tourism. The Mural Society paints new murals each year, with the money for the murals raised through donations, a live auction and a street sale. In addition, the mural society receives some grants, but money from the community is still its primary source of funding.
The Rex Theatre
Built in 1914 there is not a lot of information about the theatres early history. In 1989 Sandijean Fuson and Mike McLaughlin purchased the theater because the theater had been closed for several years and they wanted to provide something more for the kids of Vale to do. Family movies have been shown here since, although if there is a home football game you will find the theatre dark as the whole town proudly supports Vale High School sports. In 2006 two severe windstorms destroyed a portion of the roof causing damage to the interior of the theater. Since that time much work has been done to bring the theater back to it former glory. Its historical renovation preserved the unique
“Art Deco” artwork adoring the columns, restored the original wood floors, the balcony now has a VIP booths for special guests, and the main floor seats have cup holders and over 30 inches of leg room between new cloth seats. There are very few independent and community based theaters left in the USA and Vale is fortunate to be home to one of them.
Bully Creek Dam and Reservoir
Bully Creek Dam and Reservoir are on the Bully Creek about 8 miles northwest of the creeks confluence with the Malheur River, and a short 10 miles from Vale itself. Forested areas at the reservoir provide wonderful opportunities for viewing migrating birds. In the spring, fall, and winter you may see ducks, grebes, loons, and hawks. Nearby a red rock formation sometimes plays home to Rock Wrens and Golden Eagles. The reservoir is 985 surface acres with 7 miles of shoreline. This spot is a favorite of anglers with available fish species that include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow, and black crappie. Sparse vegetative cover of sagebrush and grass provides habitat for small mammals and birds as well.
Lake Owyhee State Park lies next to a 53-mile-long lake formed by the Owyhee Dam, and framed by breathtaking views of the Owyhee Mountains. A scenic boat trip up the lake from the park is one of the many great experiences to be had here. There is more here than just great scenery: say hello to some of the locals! Bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope live in the area, as well as golden eagles, coyotes, mule deer, wild horses and even the occasional mountain lion. Fossil-fiends and hikers alike are also welcome in this wilderness paradise; many use the park as base camp for exploring the badlands of Oregon.
Vale is located in the heart of pheasant country. Pheasant season starts in mid-October and lasts until mid-December. Chukar season is from mid-October to January 31. Archery enthusiasts can use the 80 acre West Bench Archery Range from April through September. Hunting is very diversified in Malheur County with upland game birds such as dove, pheasant, quail, grouse and chukars and bigger game animals such as antelope, deer, elk and big horn sheep. With your license you can go it alone or choose from several area guide services that can show you the spots only locals know about.
The towering rock structures of Succor Creek Canyon rise above prime riparian habitat and rock-hounding grounds. Though it is considered a “primitive” park area, Succor Creek provides opportunities for camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and rock hounding. This is also prime territory for finding those much talked about Thundereggs!
Located near the Succor Creek area, Leslie Gulch is a vast and striking landscape of volcanic tuff towers and rocky spires. Leslie Gulch is known for its wind blown rock formations, wildflowers, camping, and access to Lake Owyhee. This picturesque place where wind, water, and time have created unusually sculpted towers, pinnacles, and intricate multiple layered spires is both beautiful and other-worldly.