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  • Central Oregonian

    CENTRAL OREGON HISTORY: Diamond, Oregon, was ranching outpost on Malheur Wildlife Refuge

    By Steve Lent,


    The region in the vicinity of Diamond, Oregon, was settled in 1874–75. It is located about 55 miles southeast of Burns, Oregon. Diamond lies along Swamp Creek, at the head of Diamond Valley, northwest of Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Swamp Creek flows into Diamond Swamp, a short distance down the valley. The swamp is part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    The community of Diamond got its name from a diamond-shaped branding iron used by a local cattle rancher on the Diamond Ranch. The Diamond Ranch was established in the area by the pioneer settler, Mace McCoy. Minerva J. (Dolly) Kiger is credited with applying the name of the ranch to the community in 1874. Diamond Craters, the Diamond post office and other features in the vicinity took their name from the ranch.

    A post office was established at Diamond on Oct. 4, 1887, and John L. Ingram served as the first postmaster. The post office was operated for several years but was discontinued on April 13, 1962. A school was established to serve the local ranching community. A newer school was later built and provides education for grades K-8 and continues to operate. Students attend high school at the Crane, Oregon, boarding school.

    Marion Horton constructed Hotel Diamond just before 1900 to serve the traveling public and local ranching needs, He also erected his own home adjacent to the inn. Mr. and Mrs. Horton operated the hotel for a time, then sold the property to Sid Comegys. Comegys added a saloon to the hotel, which proved to be popular. The hotel had a series of owners during the next several years, and the saloon was discontinued much to the dismay of enthusiastic patrons. The hotel became widely known for its hospitality and accommodations. Meals were prepared and served family style. It continues to operate today and remains a popular hospitality destination for a wide variety of the public.

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