The original Wasco County Courthouse today. The pointed spire of St. Peter's Landmark is visible in the background.

Original Wasco County Courthouse
Built 1859

The original Wasco County Courthouse, built in 1859, located behind the Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center on West 2nd Street, interprets history in several ways.

The building itself was saved from destruction and restored as nearly as possible to originbal dimensions and structural elements.

Among the resources it houses are slide-tape and video DVD programs on diverse subjects, period furniture, jail paraphernalia, pictures, old books and oral history tapes.

Farewell to Celilo and Return to The River

Newly remixed DVDs available

These programs have been remastered from the original 1970's era slide/tape presentations, created for and presented by the Original Wasco County Courthouse.

For more information click here.

 

Courthouse History

A display case shows the leg shackles used on prisoners.

The courthouse was the first courthouse west of the Rocky Mountains.  The building housed a sheriff's office and three jail cells on the first floor and a courtroom upstairs, entered only by the outside staircase. It was located at 3rd and Court Streets where the present City Hall now stands. This small courthouse was used as a public meeting place, church services, as well as the seat of law for the county.

The old west was a wild place, and the Wasco County Courthouse was the site of legal justice and punishment for transgressors. The jail was, however, escapable and the need for better security was one of the reasons that the county sheriffs promoted the construction of a new jail facility.

You can see some of the devices used to constrain prisoners inside the courthouse. We often hear about leg shackles and the ball and chain, but getting a close-up view of these old devices makes a chill run down your spine.

For a more detailed explanation of the history of the Original Wasco County Courthouse building, click here.

There is a plaque posted on the building which reads:

"Original Wasco County Courthouse - Completed in 1859 in response to a citizen petition, this courthouse is one of only two still standing which date back to Oregon Territorial days. The building, which cost $2,500, provided the first county-owned jail and office space. The sheriff had his office on the first floor near three jail cells; the courtroom and clerk's office were upstairs, entered only by an outside staircase. This courthouse, seat of government in a county that once was 130,000 square miles, served until the county built a larger one in 1882. The old, much-remodeled building was moved to this site in 1975 and has since undergone extensive restoration."

Original Wasco County Courthouse Video Collection

These programs have been remastered from the original 1970's era slide/tape presentations, created for and presented by the Original Wasco County Courthouse. Click here for a list of available videos.

Other souvenirs and booklets relating to the Courthouse and regional history are for sale in the gift shop.

Original Wasco County Courthouse Museum Hours

The Original Courthouse is open summers, Memorial Day through Labor Day,from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wed. through Saturday. Other times are gladly made by appointment - call (541) 296-4798.
Admission is free.

Yearly memberships and donations are always welcome.

 
 
 

The Original Wasco County Courthouse
410 West Second Place (behind The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center)
Mailing address: P.O. Box 839

The Dalles, Oregon 97058
Phone: (541) 296-4798
http://www.wascochs.org/wcch.htm