Fort Rock, a mecca for early homesteaders
Fort Rock Valley began to attract homesteaders in one of the last great land rushes in the United States near the turn of the 20th century.
Small post offices and communities began to emerge throughout the area as hundreds of homesteaders came to the area. Long-gone communities known as Sink, Arrow, Wastina, Fremont, Loma Vista, Buffalo and Woodrow became focal points for the homesteaders. Unfortunately, these sites faded to oblivion as many homesteaders could not sustain the homestead life.
Fort Rock began to emerge as one of the main centers and eventually outlasted the other early communities.
The town was founded and named by Ray and Grace Nash. They operated a store that catered to the homesteaders. A post office was established at Fort Rock on March 9, 1908. It was named for the nearby geographic feature of Fort Rock.
The small community at one time boasted of having two livery stables, two grocery stores, a post office, a blacksmith shop, and a restaurant and hotel. It even had two newspapers, the Fort Rock Times and the Fort Rock News. The newspapers were kept busy printing homestead notifications that were required for homestead claims. Many local items were printed with "borrowed" information from other newspapers, providing information on events outside the area.
The homestead era began to fade as conditions made it economically unfeasible for many of the homesteaders to continue their endeavors. Many of the homesteads were purchased by large local ranches.
The community of Fort Rock managed to survive through the years but is an isolated community on the High Desert.
A local historical society was established in 1981, and members envisioned a homestead village that would relate the heritage of the valley. In 1988, two buildings were acquired and exhibited, and through the years, more land was obtained, and other homestead buildings were moved to the site. Today, thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the Homestead Village is a reality and a popular tourist site.
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