Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Found Oregon- Simnasho Church

While out in Wasco County last week, tracking T-lines (which often involves driving slowly up some dirt road and craning your neck through the windows to see where some group of nearly invisible conductors track across the landscape to a giant latticework tower.  When you finally stop and get out of the car, underneath this huge humming thing, you feel like a moron for having not seen it in the first place) I happened to be cruising through the town of Simnasho, on the Warm Springs Reservation.  All things being equal, the Warm Springs has a GREAT road system, well-marked, mostly paved, and really easy to navigate.  The intersection of S-400 and S-100 (one of which is also numbered Road 3, I have no idea why) is downtown Simnasho.  According to the McArthurs, the post office here began in 1886 and with several service gaps more or less continued until July 1954.  Today Simnasho has a small market, an elementary school, and some residences but for my purposes the intersection was mostly notable for a neat collection of early wood-frame residential buildings.  And, in the “Found Oregon” series, the really amazing Simnasho Church.  It was an unexpected diversion from T-line inspired neck-craning, and for most people certainly made for better pictures.

I wasn’t able to find out much about the church beyond the fact that there are a LOT of photos of it all over the web.  A local history site reports that it was Presbyterian, and hasn't been used since the late-1960s. I can believe it.  The church and the small house to the west, what I assume must have the manse, are something of a testament to the impacts of the environment on wood buildings.  Anybody know anything about this one?


  1. An update... According to the 1902 DOI report to Congress, the Presbyterian Mission at the Warm Springs Agency "...creditable churches have been erected on the reservation...at Simnasho and Seki se qui... there are also two parsonages that quite nice and comfortable" (1902:261). So the Simnasho Church is at last 110 years old. According to a history of the Presbyterians, the congregation at Simnasho was merged into the one at Warm Springs "...about 1959."

  2. Very interesting. Years ago during my first photography class I did some shots of the church and the small house. I also ventured inside (before it was locked up) and found pews and hymnals tossed about as if a tornado had hit. There is an old awesome piano in the corner I took a picture of. I will have to dig it out. Maybe still have the negatives as well