Rufus - Sherman County, Oregon History

Rufus

Wallis Station on the OR&N Railway and Rufus were named for Rufus Carroll Wallis. He settled at Chamberlin Flat across the Columbia River in the 1860s, and was instrumental in building Rufus where he started the post office in 1886. He lived on both sides of the Columbia River with his wife Mary and their children: William, Newton W., Rufus, Ida May, Charles W., Harvey, George, Josephine and Harry E. Wallis. Rufus operated a ferry, grain warehouses and other Rufus businesses, including construction and operation of the first hotel in 1890.

In 1898 trains only stopped on signal and Biggs was the nearest express town. Rufus C. Wallis operated a ferry across the Columbia. That year the town had Rufus Water Works, Rufus Ferry, hotel, livery stable, lumber/coal/wood/carriages/wagon yard, railroad section hands/foremen/night watchman, saloon, general merchandise, bakery, telegraph agent, Pacific Coast Elevator Company, grain buyers, Farmers Co-op Warehouse Association, Columbia Commercial Company, fruit growers, Christian Church and teachers who also served the outlying farmers and stockmen.

Surnames listed for the Rufus district included Andrews, Atwood, Barnhart, Brackett, Buschke, Call, Cattron, Clark, Coats, Cooper, Condon, Corcoran, Couey, Craft, Dear, Dennison, Fine, Foister, Fowler, Fuller, Gerking, Girt, Greenleaf, Henderson, Herrin [sic], Holland, Hoover, Hulery, Jackson, Jacobsen, Johnson, Jones, Kretzer, Lindeman, McDonald, McNab [sic], Mathison, Moon, Morris, Oehman, Ogle, Patterson, Philippi, Pyburn, Ramey, Record, Reed, Reid, Richardson, Roberts, Sienknecht, Smith, Stone, Stryker, Tague, Tate, Taylor, Thompson, Tozier, Van Patten, Venable, Wallis, Wells, White, Wild and Young.F.E. Brown operated the U.S. Mail Route with a popular passenger route, Grant, Wasco and Moro Stage Line.

Steamboats built at Rufus include the Yukon 1895 and the Columbia 1902, and across the Columbia at Columbus/Maryhill the Cascadilla 1862 and Governor West (a gas ferry) 1915. The Columbia ran aground with a load of wheat at Indian Rapid, a total wreck. Chet Coats recalls the main street N and S in Rufus having, on the W side, the Wallis Hotel, Hoggard’s store, Altermatt / Bartholomew / Ramey house, corral and barn, J.W. Smith store and post office, service station and restaurant, Mrs. Young’s house, Margaret Clark’s house, the Amos-Hulery-Jones house, Bud Coats’ house and Minnie Morris’ house; and on the E side N to S were Pyburn’s hotel or business, Christman’s, the post office, Foister’s house, the Hoggard-Deyo store, the Chase home, the old school/Grange hall and a house. ~McArthur, OGN; Belshe; French; Illustrated History of Central Oregon, 1905; Chet Coats; SC: FTR 3-1, 3-2, 7-1, 8-2, 9-1, 9-2; Ray & Jean Brown; Tracy & Nellie (Dingle) Fields, Rufus, Oregon; USGS Rufus Quadrangle; Mills, Sternwheelers Up Columbia, 1947; Wasco and Sherman County Directory 1898; 1870, 1880, 1883 U.S. Census, Klickitat County, WA; OHS Quarterly #28, 1927; Ballou, Early Klickitat Valley Days; ASC 1913; ASC 1934; TO, 17 October 1902.

In 1926 a golf course was laid out on the Chub Fowler land, attracting golfers from The Dalles, Goldendale, Boardman and Wasco. The links started at the edge of Rufus, continued along the Columbia River highway eastward, then in zigzag fashion back across rolling broken land to a tee between two ravines, one of these a sandy wind blow 20-30n feet deep, the other a grass-covered chasm. Rufus Golf Club was organized with Wallace Jones as president with 22 members. ~WNE, 11 March 1926

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world. – George Bernard Shaw