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The counties of Oregon can boast of no place that is more solid, sturdy and assured of a brighter future than the town of Sumpter, at the head of Sumpter valley.
Lying at a point where all roads converge and extend again to the great producing mines of Baker county, Sumpter is the natural gateway, the supply headquarters for a large tributary country, which last year yielded, it is safe to estimate, $2,000,000 to the gold supply of the world. Its progress, hence as it has been ever since it came into recognized existence will not, could not, be accelerated by booms.
The day of the gold-tinted boom is past in Oregon. In Baker county it is unknown, for most of her mining camps have permanent charms of their own, so that the prospector does not flit from place to place in search of “pockets,” which after having picked, he deserts for fresher fields. Baker county knows no boom, and Sumpter now an incorporated municipality of nearly 1000 people has been growing at an astonishing rate the past two years. It is but little more than two years old, at best.
Whence came “Fort Sumpter?” A tinge of romance hangs about the town of historic name. The nucleus for what will in all probability be the future great distributing center for one of the richest mining sections in the world is a crude log cabin which stands today. It is half a mile west of town. across the Sumpter gulch, and it rejoices in the name of “Fort Sumpter.”
To this lonely spot back in the ’60’s came three Confederate soldiers who, tired of the fortunes of war, found their way to the new world and devoted their attention to gold getting. They must have known something about placer pinning, for they went to work washing out the yellow metal, which was found in the gulch in abundance. “Fort Sumpter” still stands and marks flip way to the regions where many fortunes have since been taken out. The town of Sumpter takes its name from the abode of the early adventurers.
Sumpter gulch, on which the cabin stands, has produced its untold thousands in placer gold. So has Gimlet gulch. These were the chief producers in the past although gold was found in lesser quantities in all the gulches of that section. The tributaries of Gimlet gulch were fed from the ledges that are among the best producing quartz mines at present.
Nestling among the wooded rolling foothills of the mountains, protected from the biting winter breezes of the north, in a spot that is a veritable garden of nature, is Sumpter. It is the terminus of the Sumpter Valley railroad, 28 miles west of Baker City, on the O. R. & N. railway, and from it numerous stage lines extend to the surrounding camps and to all interior points. Sumpter does mot seem to have the cold and barren appearance that most mining camps possess. In many respects the place does mot resemble the mining camps of other days. Being located a short distance from the mines, you note the absence of many of the rough characteristics of camps like Leadville, that are close to the mines.
Climatically the Sumpter valley is one of the favored spots of earth, summer or winter. The altitude is 4000 feet above sea level, No extreme heat or cold comes to the sheltered city. Lying all around it are inexhaustible natural resources which will be converted into future wealth by persevering and industrious people.
For what has not Sumpter got excepting population that could make its advantages more apparent.? On one side is a fertile valley of extremely productive soil, lumbering industries, and adjacent to mines that answer to the roll-call of “Klondikes.” Eastern Oregon’s light is not hidden under a basket any more. The time is past as it should be when Oregonians will read with avidity news of a $10,000 to $20,000 clean-up on the Klondike while they overlook that in the Sumpter district-noted for its mineral wealth-such clean-ups are regarded as ordinary events.
The lay of the land about the pretty site of Sumpter makes it the sole available distributing center of a vast interim of country. Surrounding it are vast tracts for grazing cattle and sheep, while endless forests of pine timber are near at hand, and convenient to transportation.
Besides the railroad which gives Sumpter connection with the world, three daily stage lines leave for Granite, Canyon City, Bonanza, Bourne and other points. All the great mines are reached via Sumpter. Through Sumpter pass the supplies for the John Day district, Prairie City, Bourne and others, which are now attracting mining investors the world over. For a young city it has much to he proud of. All lines of business are represented; it has a fine church building in course of erection, a weekly newspaper, the Sumpter News, which is always found pulling for Sumpter, a graded school, and several industries, principal of which is the Sumpter Lumber Company, with a mill capacity of 30,000 feet daily, and fully equipped for supplying mining timbers.
Having paid attention to what Sumpter has already in the way of possibilities for the investor in mines, bands, stock fruit and other lines, it may be well to look at the wants of the city.
Like many another district Sumpter has a strong standing invitation for all to come. It possesses this great advantage over a great many others, however, and it is that whatever you want to find or do you will get what you are looking for among the best class of people that can be found anywhere in Sumpter valley. One briefly expresses it: “We want more of the hardy and industrious pioneers like those who first came over the hills to this great empire. We desire here men who know how to go to work and cultivate the soil and produce four times as much as the people now do who are here and casually farming and selling wild hay at $10 per ton. Men to put out fruit farms, dairy farms, men to build mills and start new enterprises, erect buildings, to extend the stock business and open up new avenues of trade in wool, hide, beef and dairy products. Industry and capital will make Sumpter to Eastern Oregon what Cripple Creek was to Colorado as a center of the gold fields and their trade but not in a boom sense. Certainly Easterners whether seeking homes or business opportunities, can find no safer investment and development than amid the sturdy energetic people of Sumpter valley .
When you visit Sumpter you hear the drummers say that it is one of the most “solid” little towns they visit and that their customers always do a good business. While Sumpter primarily needs more people, it is not to be overlooked that there are business opportunities presented there, which properly taken hold of will net a comfortable fortune to the first comers.
New lines of business are needed. Here are some of them which are apparent to the casual visitor’s eye. A good bank with smug capital, a steam laundry, a dairy business, a brewery, which would be a gilt-edged investments, cigar factory, a smelter, a flour mill, foundry and machine shops. And there is a great opening for a wholesale forwarding and commission house There is room for all, business for all, and a welcome awaits those who identify their interests with those of Sumpter. A banking institution to care for the deposits of the mining men and the business men of the city is badly needed. Situated its the town is, as the natural supply headquarters for outlying camps, the need of banking facilities for doing business is readily apparent.