Umatilla County, Oregon 1922

McLaughlin Union High School, Milton-Freewater


Nestling beneath the protecting shelter of the lofty Blue Mountains in the eastern part of Umatilla County lie the twin cities, Milton and Freewater, the most populous urban settlement in the county outside of Pendleton and the trading center for a population of some six thousand people. The 1920 census gives Milton a population of 1,760, and, according to the same authority, there are 680 inhabitants in Freewater.

The two towns are distinctly one community and whatever affects one affects both. Their municipal limits overlap each other to such an extent that there is in effect no division line between the two.

This district is rapidly increasing its present heavy population. Some of the perfectly logical reasons why people are led to come here and then to st ay and make homes is the fact that the altitude is 1,010 feet and the rainfall is eighteen inches, both just right to make it correct to say "High and dry" that combination which is popular with an ever increasing number of people.

Facilities for educating children are always required where happy homes are the rule, and to prove that this particular section of Umatilla County is amply provided for in this respect, and also to show how densely populated the valley is, it is of interest to note that within a radius of six miles from either town there are thirteen schools, employing fifty-nine teachers. The school enumeration of this same district is 1,909, with an actual daily attendance of more than 1,400 children. Besides the excellent public school facilities, Columbia College, located in the heart of Milton, offers a continuation of the high school course. The college was established in 1900. It owns equipment valued at $100,000, and the annual enrollment will average about two hundred students.

The towns of Milton and Freewater are in the Walla Walla Valley. The Walla Walla River, which takes its source in the Blue Mountains, comes out of the canyon and runs in a generally northerly direction into the state of Washington. Along its east bank rises the bench of land that is almost entirely devoted to wheat raising as far as the foothills, some fifteen miles distant. On the other side of the river, where it leaves the canyon, the edge of the bench land runs almost due west. This, bench land is also devoted to wheat raising. These two edges of bench, land leave a V-shaped valley, which runs in a northwesterly direction. This is the fruit section of the valley, terminating in alfalfa fields on the west and more wheat on the north. The town of Milton is just at the bead of the canyon, and Freewater lies a little below Milton. At some places this valley has sub-irrigated sections, where springs and brooks are formed. The greater part of the valley is irrigated for fruit, vegetables, alfalfa and other crops. The wheat grown is not irrigated and is mostly sown in the fall, the land being summer fallowed every other year.


First National Bank
One of the finest homes in Umatilla County
Public Library Christian Church
Growers' Storage and Supply Co., plant
Farmers Security Bank

In addition to the excellent school facilities which have always prevailed here, a new union high school has just been completed at a cost of about a quarter of a million dollars, and it offers an unexcelled opportunity for the education of children. The assessed valuation of the district is more than $7,000,000, one of the biggest of any union district in the state.

The library needs of the two towns are well cared for in a branch of the county library, which is established here, and efforts are being made to see that the scope of this -work is widened even beyond its present limits.

There are four banks here, whose deposits range from slightly more than one million dollars to about two million dollars in the season when fruit and wheat crops are sold. They are well housed and in strength they are second to none in the county.

The religious life of the community is reflected in the number of churches found in the two towns. A departure from the usual plan of organization is found in the federated church, which is a combination of ten denominations. There are both Protestant and Catholic churches in the community besides the federated church.

An exceptionally large number of beautiful homes adorn both towns. They are surrounded by well-kept lawns on streets which in a large measure are paved. They are concrete examples of the vision and industry and faith of the men and women who live in Milton-Freewater and have been living here, some of them for many years.

Both Milton and Freewater have vigorous, energetic commercial organizations, which are constantly doing work for the good of the community as a -whole. Each town has an up-to-date weekly newspaper. The usual quota of lodges and social organizations are found here in abundance to provide for the hours of pleasure and recreation.

Industries of the twin cities comprise one flour mill, $75,000 ice and cold storage plant, a $60,000 fruit packing and storage plant, beside three other large co-operative and commission fruit houses, two large box manufacturing plants and a sash and door factory.

Milton owns its own municipal light and power plant, valued at $125,000, and beside furnishing light and power for inhabitants within the city, supplies many country homes.


A modern home
Bank of Freewater First National Bank
Peacock Mill

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