by Shanna Hatfield
Two years ago, I decided to write my first historical romance story. While debating whether to use a real town or make one up for the setting, I happened across information about the town of Hardman, in Eastern Oregon.
Although classified as a ghost town today, Hardman was a happening place to be in the 1880s with a skating rink, four churches, a school, and newspaper office among the many businesses located there.
John F. Royse, reportedly one of the most successful farmers in the area, and his brother, were said to be the first permanent settlers in the Hardman country.
Originally named Dairyville, the town was popular as a freighting center and saw promising growth in its early days. Dairyville became known as Raw Dog, while a mile away a rival settlement sprang up, known as Yellow Dog.
Stagecoaches and wagon trains traveling north and south through eastern Oregon and Washington found a convenient stopping point in both Raw Dog and Yellow Dog. The rivalry between the two locations escalated as they competed over which town would secure the stagecoach depot for the area. When Raw Dog received a permanent stagecoach station, the two towns became one, known as Dogtown.
The town’s name changed to Hardman in 1881 when David N. Hardman, an old pioneer farmer, moved to town and brought the post office with him, by consent of the government, which he previously operated from his farm. The town took the name of the post office and became generally known as Hardman.
It was rumored the railroad would go through Hardman in the late 1880s. When it was routed through Heppner twenty miles to the north, it was a devastating blow to the community, effectively stunting future growth of the town.
By the 1920s, trucks replaced horses, mail routes changed and Hardman began its decline. The last business in Hardman closed in 1968.
One sunny morning, I begged Captain Cavedweller (aka hubby) to go for a drive and check out what was left of the town.
We drove... and drove... and drove.
Some of the views, like the one above, were quite spectacular. Others, not quite as much. I think a highlight on part of the trip was contemplating if a particular bit of roadkill was a skunk or a porcupine. We doubled back to confirm it was a porcupine - ironically and tragically killed next to a road marker for Porcupine Lane.
Finally, we arrived in Hardman. It didn't take long to explore what's left of the town.
After seeing the old houses in their current state, it really made me wonder what the town looked like back in the 1890s, the time frame of my Hardman Holidays series.
That curious part of me that wishes I could find some photos from back then can't help but paint the buildings and restore them in my mind's eye.
The school plays a big role in the third book in the series, The Christmas Calamity, releasing Nov. 13.
Dependable and solid, Arlan Guthry relishes his orderly life as a banker’s assistant in Hardman, Oregon.
However, his uncluttered world tilts off kilter when the beautiful and enigmatic prestidigitator Alexandra Janowski arrives in town. With a broken-down wagon and a lack of finances, Alex takes a temporary position as the schoolteacher, just until Christmas. It gives her plenty of time to spin magic and trouble in her wake as the holiday season approaches.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
He stopped at the mercantile and perused the goods, searching for something special to share with Alex. Settling on a box of chocolates, he paid for them and smiled when Aleta gave her approval on his selection.
“You chose some of the best confections in the store, Arlan. You can’t go wrong with these.”
He thanked her, slid the box into his coat pocket, and hurried on his way to the school. Halfway there he noticed Alex lurking in the alley behind the saloon.
Quietly walking around behind her, he tapped her on the shoulder. She spun around with a hand over her mouth to stifle her scream. Recognition replaced fear and she swatted him on the shoulder then grabbed his hand, pulling him deeper into the shadows of the alley.
“What are you doing?” she hissed, glancing around to make sure they’d gone unnoticed. “You’re going to get me killed, you ninny.”
“What are you talking about?” His breath stirred the curls near her ear as he leaned close, keeping his voice low. “I was on my way to see you and bring you a surprise when I noticed you prowling around in the alley. I think I’m the one with a right to know what you’re about.”
“I’m getting ready to kill a man so you best stand back and be quiet...”
You’re Invited to PARTY!
You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty
The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here: http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994
The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!
To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form.
About Shanna Hatfield
A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”
She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.
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