The Dalles is the county seat and largest city of Wasco County, Oregon, United States. The population was 13,620 at the 2010 census, and is the largest city on the Oregon side of the Columbia River outside of the Portland Metropolitan area.

The site of what is now the city of The Dalles was a major Indian trading center for at least 10,000 years. The general area is one of the continent’s most significant archaeological regions. Lewis and Clark camped near Mill Creek on October 25–27, 1805, and recorded the Indian name for the creek as Quenett.

The name of the city comes from the French word dalle (meaning either “sluice” (akin to English “dale” and German T[h]al, “valley”) or “flagstone” and referring to the columnar basalt rocks carved by the river, in voyageur French used to refer to rapids), which was used by the French-Canadian employees of the North West Company to refer to the rapids of the Columbia River between the present-day city and Celilo Falls. Also in the same area was the Petite Dalles or Little Dalles, or Short Narrows.

In the early 1840s American settlers began to arrive in significant numbers, traveling overland via the Oregon Trail. The trail ended at The Dalles. It was not possible to take wagons farther west due to steep cliffs that fell straight into the Columbia River. Until the construction of the Barlow Road in 1846, the only way to reach Fort Vancouver and the Willamette Valley was by rafting down the river from The Dalles. A post office was established within the boundaries of the current city in 1851, and The Dalles was incorporated as a city in 1857. It has been the major commercial center between Portland and Pendleton since. The city was originally named just “Dalles”. In 1853 it was changed to “Wascopum,” then, in 1860, to “The Dalles”. SOURCE: Wikipedia

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