“We’ve got whiskey in our water and gold in our streets … there could be no better place to live.” 1980 Haines Mayor Dick Camp.
The town of Haines gained notoriety in on March 10, 1980 in a press article where Mayor Dick Camp made this statement. The endorsement referred to the Rock Creek whiskey still that was allegedly hooked to the city’s water supply, causing a clash with the Environmental Protection Agency, and to a small amount of gold that was found during road construction. The water was rumored to have “a slight bourbon taste.”
This route runs across rich, flat farmland on a mix of gravel and paved roads and past three historic cemeteries. Distant snow-capped mountains will frame your photos perfectly. This ride is perfect for those getting into gravel; it is a good mix of gravel and paved roads.
We have documented three versions of this route: the 60, the 40, and the 20. The 60 has a “road ride” feel at only 25% gravel, while the 40 and 20 are much more of a mixed ride with 40% and 50% gravel respectively.
This route “goes” most of the year, except the deep winter months. It is particularly beautiful in the spring when the creeks are full, and the fields are green. But … we would give this a go almost anytime from early spring to late fall.
Historic park at the intersection of Front and 4th Streets in Haines. Flush toilets.
Lat / Long: 44.911247, -117.938137
The Powder River Valley offers a mix of quiet paved roads and gravel farm roads with stunning views of the Wallowa and Elkhorn mountains. The terrain is mostly flat with light traffic, making it a peaceful and enjoyable experience. Along the route, you will see majestic hay fields, historic buildings, cows, horses and cowboys, which will give you an authentic taste of the rural countryside.
The construction of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Line spurred the town’s growth. By the late nineteenth century, Haines was a major exporter of agricultural goods, shipping as many as 104 railroad carloads of cattle and hogs to Portland every week. Remnants of the thriving days in Haines are scattered throughout the town. The railroad depot is now a museum, and the Chandler Cabin, built in 1861, serves as a roadside historical marker. [Oregon Encyclopedia]
Wingville was first settled in September 1862 and is noted for many firsts in the Powder River Valley. The first field tilled in 1863, the first childbirth and the first church. The “town” now consists of the antiquated church turned grange. This sign marks the location of the original town. [onsite kiosk]
This is an Oregon Historic Cemetery. The cemetery officially originated in 1878 in response to a diphtheria epidemic. Many of the graves are unmarked due to age and range fires. There is a small gate left of the kiosk sign that allows entry to the cemetery. It is well worth a moment of your time and a short walk.
The Kerns Rainbow Ranch and Farm is a regenerative ranch — “naturally raising beef and other farm products while being ecologically stable“. Tim Kerns, one of the owners, provided us with an impromptu 45-minute tour of the potato harvest operations. A highlight of the ride. Give a wave as you go by!
This is an Oregon Historic Cemetery. There is very little left of the once bustling township of Rock Creek. Legend has it that in 1917 the exit of Lake Killimacue was dammed to allow for additional irrigation storage. A huge gust of wind blew, resulting in the dam being breached. A wave of water tore down Killimacue Canyon and demolished at least six businesses as well as homes, barns and livestock. The town was not rebuilt due to the automobile, change of industry and the extent of the destruction. The cemetery at Rock Creek features unique stones and locally mined granite fence posts. You will need to go a few hundred feet west of the route.[Oregon Geneology]
Muddy Creek was a small community northwest of Haines. The only physical reminder of the past is the school marker. In 1891, the first Muddy Creek School was built, an 18 x 24 one-room schoolhouse. The second school was a frame structure that served till 1894. A freak cyclone destroyed this school on June 2, 1894. The third school was a sizable 3-room frame building. A secondary school was added in 1899 and extended a year at a time until 4 years were taught. It had more college-bound seniors for its size than any other school in the state. The fourth school was a large brick building built on the same site in 1916 for just under $15,000 and served as both grade school and high school until 1947. [Oregon Geneology and History]
This is an Oregon Historic Cemetery. Legend has it, in the early 1890’s James Oliver Maxwell was at a funeral at the Rock Creek Cemetery, where rocks had to be added to the burial site to keep the coffin from floating. He thought, “good night, this is terrible”, and so he went looking for a better spot for a burial site for his family. James Oliver Maxwell bought the existing site that overlooks the Power River for fifty dollars. Maxwell died in 1917; the cemetery was passed on to his ten children. When walking the cemetery, look for the gravesites of the Maxwells. [Oregon Geneology]
We recommend a red blinky light with rear looking radar detector like a Garmin Varia.
If 40 miles feels a bit too short or a bit too long, consider these two options, the Whiskey & Gold 60 and the Whiskey & Gold 20.
Have you ridden this route? Got a question? Join the discussion!