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History and Geography

History and Geography


The City of The Dalles, Oregon, is situated in the north-central part of the state on the Columbia River, the nation's second largest river. It is the county seat and the largest community in Wasco County.  The Dalles is one of Oregon's most historical cities and was known earlier in its history as the town at the end of the Oregon Trail.  Archeological evidence suggests the area has been inhabited more or less continuously for more than 10,000 years.  The city was first incorporated by the Oregon Territorial Government in 1857 as “Dalles City” and was made the county seat shortly thereafter.  Strategically located on the Columbia River and bordered by the Cascade Mountains to the West, The Dalles provides an ideal distribution or manufacturing setting with available riverside locations, as well as bulk container and international shipping options.  It has historically been an economic hub of the Pacific Northwest, linking major transportation routes between Eastern and Southern Oregon and Washington State.  It offers residents the pleasure of rural living while providing the advantages of access to metropolitan amenities in Portland, only 80 miles to the west.

In accordance with the City Charter of 1899, revised in 1998, and again in 2020 the City of The Dalles is governed by a City Council. This Council consists of an elected mayor and five council members. The City operates under a council-manager form of government.


The City's current population is 16,047.  The City serves a trading area of about 70,000 persons in Washington and Oregon.  Principal economic activities are agriculture, and tourism, along with health care government, and retail services.

The major agricultural product of the City is sweet cherries. The Dalles is a producer for both domestic and overseas markets.  There are in excess of 6,000 acres of sweet cherry trees around the City.  Wheat is another important agricultural product with 50,000 acres currently in cultivation in The Dalles area.  Additional agricultural products include cattle, hay and fruits.

The City is a strategic home base for year-round recreation. Water sport enthusiasts will find boating, excellent fishing, and one of the finest wind surfing areas in the United States on the Columbia River.  To the east are substantial opportunities to camp, fish, hike, and sightsee.  To the west, ski enthusiasts have the opportunity to challenge the ski slopes of magnificent Mt. Hood; and there are numerous resorts that lie on Mt. Hood and its base. 

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