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Nyssa City

Nyssa City Hall is located at 301 Main Street, Nyssa, OR 97913; phone: 541-372-2264.

Beginnings [1]

Nyssa is situated in the Owyhee River drainage on Oregon's eastern borderland, which is joined to the Snake River Plain. Settlement of this arid region had its beginnings in gold excitement of the 1860s, when livestock was raised in the Snake River Valley to serve the needs of miners. Dry land farming in the area was furthered by projects to divert irrigation water from the Owyhee from the 1880s onward.

In 1884, the Oregon Short Line Railroad was completed to link the Union Pacific's transcontinental line to the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company's line constructed from Portland east along the Columbia River. This railroad development prompted a settlement to gather at a service point near the railroad's Snake River crossing in to Oregon. Original commercial development spread along the north-south axis of the railroad tracks which, on entering Oregon, paralleled the north-flowing Snake. The principal east-west cross street was Main Street.

The town of Nyssa was incorporated in 1903 with a population of no more than 100 in order to obtain a tax base for municipal improvements. Main Street and the railroad tracks continued as the defining axes of the developed townsite until 1909, when four additions to the plat were made. These were followed by two additional enlargements, the last of the historic period. Steady growth of agricultural economy brought a population of 500 by 1911, and balloon frame buildings and board walks which characterized the earliest development gave way to masonry buildings, a few of which were two stories in height. Railroad service facilities expanded to include a passenger and freight station. A steel bridge for wagons and automobiles superseded the ferry and gave Nyssa status on the state highway system as a gateway town on the Oregon-Idaho border.

  1. Donna Hartmans, Arrow Rock Architects, Historic and Architectural Resources of Nyssa, OR, nomination document, 1996, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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