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This page is about the city in Oregon. For the nearby geological formation called The Dalles, see Celilo Fallsmarker. For other uses see Dalles.

The Dalles ( ) is the largest city and county seat of Wasco Countymarker, Oregonmarker, United Statesmarker. The name of the city comes from the French word dalle (meaning either "sluice" or "flagstone" and referring to the columnar basalt rocks carved by the river), what the French-Canadian employees of the North West Company called the now-inundated rapids of the Columbia River between the present-day city and Celilo Fallsmarker. The population was 12,156 at the 2000 census and was estimated at 12,520 in 2006. Also in the same area was the Petite Dalles or Little Dalles, or Short Narrows, which is now also inundated.


Lewis and Clark camped near Mill Creek on October 25–27, 1805, and recorded the Native American name for the creek as Quenett. The first use of the name Dalles, according to Oregon Geographic Names, appears in fur trader Gabriel Franchère's Narrative, on April 12, 1814.

The Dalles was the terminus of the land route of the biannual "Express" between Fort Vancouvermarker and York Factorymarker and later figured as the last stretch in the Oregon Trail. In the fall of 1849, United States Army troops arrived in the new Oregon Territory and established a military outpost at The Dalles, with a log fort finished in 1850 and named Fort Dallesmarker.

The Dalles City Hall
Early illustration of The Dalles, attributed to Joseph Drayton

A post office was established within the boundaries of the current city in 1851, and The Dalles was incorporated as a city in 1857. It has been the major commercial center between Portlandmarker and Pendletonmarker since.

In 1864, the U.S. Congress appropriated money to build a U.S. mint in The Dalles that was to use gold from Canyon Citymarker for coinage. The supply of gold from Canyon City began to dwindle, however, and other problems, such as cost over-runs, workers leaving to work the gold fields, and flooding from the Columbia River, also contributed to the project running two years behind schedule and led eventually to the its demise. In 1870, the State of Oregonmarker received the property from the U.S. Government and the building was put to other uses. The mint is now home to Erin Glenn Winery.

Construction of The Dalles Dammarker in 1957 submerged the Long Narrows and Celilo Fallsmarker.

In 1963, Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was published featuring the narrator, Chief, who is from The Dalles.

In 1970, the Bonneville Power Administration opened the Celilo Converter Stationmarker nearby, the northern terminus of the Pacific DC Intertiemarker which sends 3,100 megawatts of electricity to Los Angelesmarker.

In 1986, Penalty Phase, a film starring Peter Strauss and Melissa Gilbert, was filmed in and around The Dalles.

In 2006, the Internet company Google began building a major data center, known locally as Project 02, along the Columbia River in The Dalles, using the area's reliable hydroelectric power and the underutilized fiber optic capacity of the area. The new complex includes two buildings, each approximately the size of a football field, and two cooling plants, each four stories high. The project has created hundreds of jobs in the area, mainly in construction, with an additional 60-200 permanent positions expected later in 2006.


In 1984, The Dalles was the scene of a bioterrorist incidentmarker launched by the Rajneeshee cult in an attempt to gain control of the local government of Wasco Countymarker. It was the first known bioterrorism attack of the 20th century in the United States.


The Dalles and the Columbia River showing surrounding landscape
Highways I-84, U.S. 30, and U.S. 197 meet in the city.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.4 km². 13.6 km² of it is land and 0.8 km² of it (5.23%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,156 people, 4,896 households, and 3,226 families residing in the city. The population density was 892.3/km². There were 5,227 housing units at an average density of 383.7/km². The racial makeup of the city was 87.83% White, 0.39% African American, 1.20% Native American, 0.96% Asian, 0.77% Pacific Islander, 6.23% from other races, and 2.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.50% of the population.

There were 4,896 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.1% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40, and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.8% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,430, and the median income for a family was $43,041. Males had a median income of $36,387 versus $22,583 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,511. About 9.0% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

The Northwest Cherry Festival is held in The Dalles in April.

Museums and other points of interest

Parks and recreation

[19701]Sorosis Park is a 45-acre park in The Dalles.City Park is a 1.13 acre park close to downtown The Dalles.Firehouse Park is a 0.8 acre park located on the Columbia View Heights across from East Knoll.Thompson Park is a 12 acre park (6 developed, 6 non developed) located on 2nd Street on the west end of the historical district.Howe Park is a 1 acre neighborhood park located adjacent to The Dalles Middle School on the east end.Riverfront Park is a water front 10 acre developed park located just north of I84.Kramer Field Complex is a 16.5 acre sports complex which houses Little League, Babe Ruth, softball and soccer fields, owned by Wasco County and managed by Parks and Rec.Ted Walker Memorial Pool is a 50 meter outdoor swimming pool located within Thompson Park.




Notable residents

  • Alan Embree, Major League Baseball player
  • H. L. Davis, Oregon's only Pulitzer Prize winner in Literature with "Honey in the Horn" (1936)
  • Ken Dayley, Major League Baseball player
  • Todd Nelson, retired touring professional tennis player

Sister cities

The Dalles has one sister city:


  1. online at Google Books
  2. PSU:Population Research Center
  3. Horner, John B. (1921). Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature. The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland. p. 122-123
  4. Wasco History
  5. Erin Glenn Wines at The Mint | Columbia Gorge Winery | The Dalles, Oregon
  9. 30th Annual Northwest Cherry Festival

External links

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