Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

The storefront wasn’t. Mitchell, Oregon. I peeked—nothing inside but a big pile of dirt.

Floods, fires, booms, and busts. Through it all, the scrappy Eastern  Oregon town of Mitchell, circa 1893, population 130—give or take—perseveres. Trappers, traders, travelers, timber, ranchers, miners, and more found their way to this Eastern Oregon town. Mitchell glories in giving the perception they are a place where time stands still.

Our hotel proprietor, catching up on the town talk. His place is for sale, if you’re interested.

Today Mitchell’s best known as a “gateway;” it’s the town closest to Oregon’s spectacular Painted Hills, which is a mere 9 miles away. Cyclists, motorcyclists, hikers, sight-seers, and history buffs are drawn to Mitchell to take in the scene, grab a bite to eat, and find a place to overnight.

Little Pine Saloon & Tavern, from 1889.

The Painted Hills is not a day trip from most places. Bend, a two-hour drive, is the closest big city to the Painted Hills and four hours from Portland. Oregon.

The general store: something for everyone.

I bought fresh, locally-grown, dead-ripe plums and peaches from the general store, along with a ridiculous shark “hat” with “legs” made in China to send my niece and her baby. Expect to pay top dollar for most stuff here, so it’s best to provision ahead, but nice to have a backup in town. The owner, Carla was pleasant; she and her husband fled Lebanon, OR to find a place they felt safer. They took over the general store a few years ago.

Posters with attitude. Mitchell Oregon.

If your bent is urban or liberal, tolerance is advised as Mitchell’s the kind of town that doesn’t worry too much if it offends your “foreign” attitude. Mitchell is yet one more stop that reminds me you don’t have to leave the country to experience a different culture.

A taste of Wheeler County politics—conservative.

Wheeler county is definitely more in alignment with Idaho than Portland, OR.

Wayne thought this clunker was worth something. I’m skeptical.

Mitchell’s lack of bright lights makes this dark sky country. At night, we stood in the middle of the street at night and see the Milky Way clearly. However, the town’s not quite that sleepy. We had to dart out of the way several times as cars still came down the town’s otherwise dark main street.

Mural, Mitchell, Oregon.

Colorful murals abound. Some pay homage to the present rural life, others to the past.

I would consider staying in Mitchell again, though some of the other small towns a little closer to home* caught our interest as well. But if we return to the Painted Hills, Mitchell is the most convenient place to stay.

*More on those stops, in the next post.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our furry little angel awaited our return.

Welcome home, Mom. Whatcha got for me? No, I don’t know how the cat grass got toppled.

Location Location

Mitchell, Oregon. latitude 44° 33′ 59″ N / 120° 9′ 12″ W. Elevation: 2799.