The city of Adams, located north of Pendleton in Umatilla County, will celebrate its 125th anniversary on Feb. 23, 2018. But the town was actually founded by mistake, according to a written account by a descendant of the town’s first mayor.
Don Lieuallen was the guest speaker at the town’s 100th anniversary celebration on Feb. 21, 1993. According to Lieuallen’s history, the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company was building track east from Pendleton and reached the present site of Adams in 1882. There construction was halted while railroad officials debated the best way to cross Dry Creek Canyon northeast of Weston. As the discussion dragged on, winter set in and the work crews erected a few shacks for shelter.
Two entrepreneurial men, I.T. Reese and J.T. Redman, built a general store for the railroad workers. Soon a few houses were built, then saloons showed up, and a livery stable, meat market and feed store appeared. The first confectionery, cigar store and menswear establishment was opened by “Cheap Charlie” Hanson. The Adams Real Estate Association formed in 1883, and John F. Adams’ farm, originally settled in 1865 on the banks of Wildhorse Creek, became the basis for the town plat. Adams was incorporated on Feb. 23, 1883, with Thomas A. Lieuallen as mayor.
By 1901 the city had a population of 500, and boasted a newspaper, three general stores, two blacksmith shops, a drug store, two hotels, a livery stable and saloon.
The 100th anniversary celebration included music, an arts and crafts show, and a reader’s theater presentation of “The Crooked Town,” among other attractions. The opening festivities also featured the presentation of a centennial quilt made by Gilberta Lieuallen, which depicts the city seal surrounded by 16 historic photos depicting early Adams. The quilt is on permanent display in the Adams Friendship Center.