Latitude / Longitude:
3,563 ft (1,086 m)
Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
Hardman is a historic community located in southern Morrow County, in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is on Oregon Route 207 about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Heppner and 32 miles (51 km) north of Spray. Hardman is at an elevation of about 3,600 feet (1,100 m) in an agricultural area slightly west of the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. Rock Creek, a tributary of the Columbia River, flows northwest by Hardman and to its south to meet the river at Lake Umatilla. A former social and commercial center for surrounding farm communities, Hardman became a ghost town following the completion of a railroad to Heppner in the 1920’s. The main surviving commercial building, the Hardman IOOF Lodge Hall, was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 2012.
Mr. Hardman served as postmaster for a number years, but ultimately asked to be relieved of the “pressing cares of mercantile life.” He subsequently closed out large stock of goods and sent in his resignation as postmaster. Mr. Hardman filled public positions with “great credit,” and was the republican nominee for county commissioner at one time. In an 1892 article detailing Hardman, Mr. Hardman called the area, “this is the easiest country on the coast in which to make a good living.” According to the NRHP nomination form for the IOOF hall, a history of Umatilla and Morrow counties that was published in 1902 said that Hardman at that time had three general stores, two hotels, two feed stables, two blacksmiths, a saloon, a barber shop, a church, schools, a post office, a newspaper, and a telephone office. Other infrastructure included two meeting halls, a skating rink, and a racetrack.
At the same time, David N. Hardman, who arrived in the county in 1878 after “crossing the plains some forty-two years ago with an ox train.” He started a settlement a mile to the southeast and became a prominent civic leader in the nascent community. A post office named Hardman was established there in 1881 with Hardman as postmaster after “the people demanded a post office and Mr. Hardman circulated a petition and did other work necessary to effect the location of a post office, which was named in honor of its originator.” In 1882, the Hardman post office was moved to Dairyville but retained the Hardman name. Adamsville post office was established in 1884 and closed in 1885, and thereafter, all activity centered on what is now Hardman, where the post office ran intermittently until 1968.
The first settlers in the area were John F. Royse and his brother. Royse was described as a “thoroughbred rustler” in a 3 June 1892 article detailing the community of Hardman. Royse first settled in the Willamette Valley, but circa 1872 he moved to the “bunch grass hills” in present-day Hardman. Royse started a school in 1879 at a place called Dairyville, which locals referred to as “Rawdog”. A mile to the northwest of Dairyville was the community of Adamsville, known to the locals as “Yallerdog”. Locals called the place “Dogtown” after its two predecessors. Why the locals named these communities after dogs is unknown.