Preserve America Community:
Enterprise, Oregon (population 1,940), was built on a flat the Nez Perce called “Tom-mah-talk-ke-sin-mah,” meaning white fluffy, or alkali soil. This land was donated to the town by its founders, John Zurcher and R.F. Stubblefield. Stubblefield suggested the name Enterprise, as he felt the community was “an enterprising little city,” and that name was selected by vote. A post office was established in 1887, and the city was incorporated in 1889.
The history of Enterprise is entwined with the history of the Nee-Me-Poo (Nez Perce) and their leader Chief Joseph. The area is still considered home by the descendants of the original Wallowa Band, who return to their ancestral homeland every year to harvest traditional foods and participate in friendship feasts.
Enterprise has long been the area’s main retail center and serves as the county seat of the Wallowa County. Its primary economic activities have included ranching, farming, and logging. While logging has declined to almost nothing in the last two decades, tourism and the arts have played a growing role in the local economy.
Enterprise has published a walking guide of its historic downtown, including the 1909 stone courthouse, the 1910 Odd Fellows Hall, the 1914 public library, and the E.M.& M. Building, completed in 1922 and slated for restoration as a working/living/performance space. The Wallowa Valley Barn Tour takes visitors past historic barns and buildings in the Wallowa River Valley.
Each year, the community celebrates Hells Canyon Mule Days, featuring a quilt show, cowboy poet gathering, a parade, and the Old World Oxen Living History Pageant, which includes live, yoked oxen, a covered wagon, tools, and artifacts.
For more information
City of Enterprise: www.enterpriseoregon.org
Hells Canyon Mule Days: www.hellscanyonmuledays.com
Posted March 16, 2009