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Rich Tradition

Downtown

Pendleton takes pride in its historic downtown business district. Over $4 million has been invested to restore many of the original turn-of-the-century buildings in various styles, which has enabled Downtown Pendleton to retain its authentic western-town ambience. The City was platted in 1868 and incorporated in 1880, with the Chamber of Commerce (then called the Commercial Association) being formed in 1893. Several businesses in Pendleton have been in existence that entire time and they represent what every town back then needed to make it last: an undertaker, a newspaper, a saloon, and a church, among others. And yes, they’re still around! Although other establishments proudly boast 100-year histories here and maintain their traditions, they are firmly entrenched in the 21st century as well and are among the first to implement new technology. Dining

Locals have their favorites, but visitors find it difficult to choose where to eat from the amazing array of choices found here. Whether you’re craving fine Northwest cuisine, cut-it-with-a-fork steaks, or the best hamburgers in the west, you’ll find it in Pendleton. Visit the local brewery and pub one evening, and enjoy local wines in a bistro the next. Top it off with a cup of coffee made with freshly roasted beans, or a glass of local wine at a sidewalk café. Or maybe your taste runs to a hand-made milkshake from a 50s diner. Delicious Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Thai menus are also found here.

Native Peoples

The people of the Umatilla, Walla Walla and Cayuse Tribes have lived in this area for thousands of years. They greeted the Lewis & Clark Expedition, traded with trappers, and helped emigrants along the Oregon Trail. Their spirit of hospitality continues, as do their colorful pageantry and meaningful traditions. The Tribal people were an integral component to the very first Pendleton Round-Up and continue to participate in the annual event with dancing and drumming competitions, and the nightly Happy Canyon Indian Pageant. The Tribes’ influence and culture impact the region year ‘round and they welcome visitors to their home which now includes Wildhorse Resort & Casino, Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, a golf course, a business park and plans for more development, all infused with the same tradition passed down from generation to generation.

Museums

Visitors to Pendleton have several options for learning about Western history. The Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame celebrates the cowboys, Tribal members, bullfighter/clowns, stock and volunteers that have made the Round-Up the world-famous and world-class event it has become. The museum had been located under the grandstands for 30 years, but their board was not satisfied with keeping so much of their collection in storage for lack of display space. A new museum has been built across the street from the arena and much more of the wonderful collection can be exhibited. A new exhibit celebrates the “Women in Rodeo.”

The Umatilla County Historical Society now occupies the old railway station with the “Heritage Station” museum. The exhibits chronicle the settling of the area by emigrants and help visitors to understand the hardships they overcame to not only survive, but create a life here in the Columbia River Plateau. The grounds include a farmstead and an authentic one-room schoolhouse, complete with slates, maps, teaching materials, desks and a pot-bellied stove. And of course, there are artifacts and stories from the age of the iron horse as well.

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute Museum tells the story of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Tribes. This museum gives visitors a different perspective on the westward migration through the creative displays of the way “we were”, “we are”, and “we will be”. The hands-on living exhibits change with the seasons to help visitors understand the connection between the people and the land that has existed for thousands of years. Tamástslikt also incorporates a language program to preserve the Native tongues and works with the charter school on the reservation to teach the languages to students there.

Agriculture & Wheat

Farming and ranching around Pendleton is a proud tradition with many “Century Farms” dotting the countryside. The Pendleton area is the largest producer of wheat in the state. One bushel of wheat yields about 42 pounds of flour and 16 million bushels were harvested here in 2009. Most of the wheat harvest is exported to Pacific Rim countries for production of noodles and cakes. Continental Mills, manufacturer of Krusteaz mixes among other products, located in Pendleton to take advantage of proximity to their raw ingredient, as have others. Wheat was once used as currency in Oregon and it is obviously still a major sector in our local economy.

Education

The Pendleton School District serves students in eight schools – five elementary schools (grades K-5), Sunridge Middle School (grades 6-8) and Pendleton High School (grades 9-12). The PSD has distinct advantages not always found in districts of a similar size, such as excellent achievement scores, award-winning music, theater and sports programs, and excellent character building extracurricular clubs, organizations and activities.

Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) opened its doors more than 40 years ago, and today serves approximately 1,000 full-time students and an additional 4,500 part-time students per quarter. BMCC offers traditional academic core classes as well as a variety of certificate training programs, adult education programs and online courses. BMCC also offers transfer degrees to four-year universities and operates a Small Business Development Center, Farm Business Management program, a Customized Training division for business and industry and Skill Center. The Small Business Development Center is also headquartered on campus.

Other school and education options are also available…

- Pendleton is home to the Umatilla Morrow Education Service District which supports schools and districts all over Eastern Oregon

- a charter school whose curriculum focuses on Native American culture while using the Oregon State Standards as a guideline for curriculum development

- a nationally known speech therapy camp

- opportunities for equine therapy, and a children’s rodeo, for special needs children

- two private schools, as well as several nursery/preschool choices

- a technical school for cosmetology offers hands-on training and has been established in Pendleton for many years

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