The History of Gateway, Oregon

Gateway is nine miles north of Madras and south of Trout Creek. It is located in a naturally eroded valley that provides a gate from the Deschutes River to the upper plateau. When railroads first entered into Central Oregon from the north along the Deschutes River one of the rail lines used this pathway to emerge to the uplands. A post office was established on March 12, 1913 with William M. Blair the first postmaster. Originally the office was established as Young’s a few miles east, but was moved to the rail tracks and named for the natural depression that allowed the railroad a Gateway to Central Oregon. It is believed that George McFarland, a water pumper for the newly completed railroad gave Gateway its name. A railroad station and stockyards was built at Gateway and the site became an important shipping point. A traveling salesman named Kegler built the first store. An article in the Madras Pioneer on July 24, 1919 gives a lively description of Gateway:

"Gateway is a thriving little burg which always seems to be up and doing, always in for its share of things for the common good and always open for a chance to improve and grow. It is the first town from the northern boundary of Jefferson County and is the outlet for two of Jefferson county’s richest sections, Trout Creek and Ashwood; as well as the northern edge of Big Agency Plains. Gateway has two general stores, a new and well managed hotel, a confectionary store, Tum-a-Lum lumber yard, blacksmith shop and garage. It is on the O-W railroad and has good warehouses. Gateway is growing and will continue to do so."

The post office was discontinued on September 30, 1956 with mail moving to Madras.


Part of the original railroad which can still be seen. 

Gateway Grade

This road grade is located just west of Gateway and descends down on Juniper Lane from Agency Plains to Mud Springs Valley. The steep grade was first built to allow Agency Plains farmers a route to get their harvested wheat from the Plains down to the railroad depot at Gateway for shipment to market. It currently is a paved road and a main access from Gateway to Agency Plains.


The Gateway Grade, as seen from the top of North Agency Plains. 

Gateway Recreation Site

This Bureau of Land Management campground is located near the mouth of Trout Creek on the Deschutes River. It is also known as Trout Creek Recreation Site. It is named for its close proximity to Gateway. The BLM has developed several camping and picnic sites at the campground. There are toilet and water facilities, a public boat ramp, parking and a seasonal ranger station. There also is a trail along the Deschutes River that follows the old Oregon Trunk Railroad Line on the south bank of the Deschutes River from the camp to Mecca Recreation site. The camp is very popular with boaters, rafters and fishermen.

Gateway Rim

This rimrock is located two miles southwest of Gateway on the eastern edge of Agency Plains. A U.S.G.S. benchmark gives an elevation of 2306 feet. The road grade from Gateway to Agency Plains winds its way up this rim. It is named for its close location above the community of Gateway.

Gateway School

This school was located at the site of the Gateway community. As the railroad arrived in Central Oregon in 1911 and passed through the newly established community of Gateway it was determined a school was necessary in 1912. There was not a building available so local parents decided to use a nearby saloon as a school room. Parents did most of the scrubbing and removed offensive items such as spittoons and mirrors and made the building acceptable. A new school house was later built and was utilized until the late 1960’s. The first teacher at the school was Viola Smith and there were about ten students. An article in the Madras Pioneer on October 19, 1916, described the school:

"A very enjoyable evening was spent at the Gateway school, District 17, on Friday, October 13. Mrs. Harriet Woosley, the teacher, and her pupils, deserve great praise for the way in which the excellent program was carried out. The dramatization of Hiawatha was especially good. After the program a number of boxes filled to the utmost with samples of the delicious cookery of the ladies of Gateway were auctioned off. The neat little sum of $26 was realized from the sale. The money is to be used in meeting requirements which will bring the school up to the standardization mark."

Excerpt taken from: Central Oregon Place Names, Volume II Jefferson County, Steve Lent, Pages 91-93

Gateway Present Day

While Gateway is not the thriving metropolis that it once was, many of the settlers ancestors still inhabit the area today, where they live, farm and raise their families. There are glimpses back into time where you can see an abandoned store building and also the town's church. The railroad still runs through Gateway and if you listen closely on a quiet night, you can hear it chugging through the sleepy town from the malt house.


An old, abandoned store front in Gateway, Oregon. 


The First Baptist Church, which is no longer in use but stands in pristine condition.

In the last several years a new seed plant has been built, Obsidian Seed. It is co-owned and operated by one of the Gateway pioneer families, The Vibberts. Grain, grass seed and other speciality seed are hauled down the Gateway Grade from Agency Plains just like they were 100 years ago, but now in semi trucks instead of wagons. 

Each Fourth of July, Gateway hosts its annual Independence Day Parade that starts "Roughly at 3," where you get to see the parade not once but twice, as it winds through the town and then back again! Afterwards a local family hosts a potluck for neighbors and friends to celebrate America and the town of Gateway.