Indians attack Wheeler Stage near Mitchell
Henry Wheeler began operating a stage line from The Dalles to Canyon City in May 1864. His was one of the first ventures to carry passengers to the gold fields of the Canyon City area. The first stage carried 11 passengers and was drawn by four horses. It was one of the main carriers of people traveling to the busy gold mine camp.
Wheeler was driving his own stage on Sept. 7, 1866, about three miles east of the present Mitchell location, when he was attacked by about 20 Indians. A bullet fired from one of them passed through his cheeks. The attack was in a narrow and winding canyon on the high slope of the Mountain Creek drainage. There were some large rocks in the area that were hiding places for the Indians.
The road was too rough and winding to attempt to out-distance them in the wagon. H.C. Page was riding as guard and held off the Indians with gunfire as Wheeler unhitched his leaders. Page and the wounded Wheeler mounted the horses and raced away, leaving the cargo to the Indians. There was $10,000 in currency but the Indians had no use for this paper and scattered it on the hillside. They tore the stagecoach apart for the leather.
Wheeler and Page continued on to The Dalles with a hasty bandage wrapped around Wheeler's jaw. Wheeler received medical attention in The Dalles and soon returned to his stage line. Wheeler improved his service and established stopping places at Sherars Bridge, Bakeoven, Cross Hollows (later Shaniko), Antelope and Burnt Ranch. A memorial plaque was later placed at the site of the raid just to the north of present U.S. Highway 26. When a new county was created in the vicinity in 1899, it was named for Henry Wheeler.
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