Tuesday, September 3, 2019


by Shanna Hatfield

A few weeks ago, I made a little trip for research to the town of Echo. Oregon.

Population around 700, the is just a few minutes from a busy freeway. But it's also located at the historic crossroads of Indian trails and the Oregon Trail on the Umatilla River.

Emigrants on the Oregon Trail diverged from the main route near present-day Pendleton and traveled through the area as they followed the Umatilla River to the mighty Columbia River in the early 1840s. In 1847, a group of emigrants crossed the river here and opened what became the Columbia Plateau Route of the Oregon Trail, which became a primary route known as Lower Crossing.

The Utilla Indian Agency for the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes was built here in 1851 by Anson Dart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon. A post office operated from here and it served as a trading post along the Oregon Trail. The agency was destroyed in 1855 during the Yakama Indian War. The Oregon Mounted Volunteers immediately built Fort Henrietta, a cottonwood stockade on the site. A year later, it was abandoned, although it was an archaeological site excavated from 1985 until 1990.

Then settlers began moving into the area, making it one of the first agricultural sites in Umatilla County. Ditches dug by hand insured water was available to grow alfalfa, corn, and other crops.  A ferry was established in 1861 to carry passengers across the Umatilla River at Lower Crossing and served until a bridge was later constructed.

In 1880, a man named James H. Koontz moved to the area from Umatilla Landing on the Columbia River. He platted the town and named it after his daughter Echo. The town was officially incorporated in 1904. Today, Echo Koontz Miller's image is on the city's logo.

The Oregon Railway and Navigation Company built a railroad through Echo in 1883, making it a prosperous and successful town. It became a major shipping point for grain, wool, sheep, and cattle. Sheep were a major part of the agriculture industry for many years. Today, cattle ranching has surpassed raising sheep.

Although the town is small, it strives to preserve and promote its historic features. Ten buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and others have historical significance. Echo is also an official Tree City USA and works to promote the natural environment as well.

Echo is also the setting of my latest Rodeo Romance  story, set to release Nov. 7. 

Here's a little excerpt from Keeping Christmas:

There were times she felt like the more mature of the two, but Trevor was six years older and ten times more stubborn, at least about most things.

“Who is it you want me to see?” she asked, straightening his covers again in an effort to keep from smacking the triumphant smile off his face.

“Gage Taggart. You remember him, don’t you? He worked at the ranch one summer. Weren’t you about nine or so?”

Tally had no intention of telling her brother she’d been twelve. Her young, almost teenage heart had nearly beaten its way out of her chest any time she got within ten feet of Gage. He’d been the same age as Trevor, eighteen, fresh out of high school, and so hunky that summer he worked on the ranch, she’d practically fainted with every smile he sent her way. Trevor had teased her about having a crush on him, but she’d denied it. Dad had noticed her interest, too, but he never said a word about it. From the time she’d first met Gage Taggart, she’d been in love him, even if she’d never confess how many of her childhood hours were spent pining after the bareback rider.

“I remember Gage,” she said, wondering if he’d changed much since then. Would the man he’d grown into be so very different from the boy she’d adored?

“It really would be a help if you’d take it to him, Tal. Please?” Trevor gave her another one of those looks that made her heart pinch.

“I don’t have anything to change into, Trev. And I wouldn’t have time to run home and change.” She glanced down at her scrubs. Since it was the week of the fair and rodeo, Tally and several others had worn farm-themed scrubs. Although her navy pants were plain, her pale blue top featured horses, sheep, cows, chickens, and pigs. “Surely, you don’t expect me to go like this.”

“You look great,” Trevor said in a weary voice. Now that he’d gotten his way, his eye lids drifted down, like he couldn’t hold them open any longer. She could wait him out, until he fell asleep, but she hated to disappoint him.

“If I do this, and that’s a big if, you realize you are going to owe me at least a huge favor, or six, don’t you?”

“I am aware of that and will gladly pay up. Please, Tally? Take my phone and text Gage that you’ll meet him there. You don’t have to go to the rodeo if you don’t want to. If he’s nearby, you could even meet him at the gate and won’t have to go in.” Trevor’s tone softened as he fought sleep.

Tally leaned over and kissed her brother’s cheek. “The things I do for you, big brother.”

“You’re a good kid, Tal. Thank you.” Trevor sighed and closed his eyes.

Find out more about Keeping Christmas or pre-order your copy today!

After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
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1 comment:

Alicia Haney said...

Hi, I enjoyed reading what this book is about, sounds like a story! I would love to read this book, I also love the cover, it is Beautiful and I bet it is a Beautiful Christmas story. I will be adding this to my TBR list. Have a Great week. God Bless you.