We were merely intrigued by the old building that houses the Wallowa County Historical Society Museum in Joseph, Oregon, because it looked interesting. The museum wasn't open. (One problem with traveling in the off season.)
Undoubtedly, the museum would hold many stories in its collections, but little did we know the building's own story until a gentleman who had noticed our interest asked if we would like to hear its history.
We hadn't noticed that it had been a bank.
One day in 1887 or 1888, three armed men strode into the First Bank in Joseph, Oregon, and robbed it of $8,000. One of the robbers was shot and killed before they were able to make their escape.
The other two headed east toward the Snake River and Idaho.
A posse was formed and caught up with them about thirty miles out near the town of Imnaha. A gun battle ensued, and another of the robbers was killed. The other was brought back to Joseph.
(Here's what Imnaha looks like today. You would miss it if you blinked. Well, maybe you wouldn't, because it is basically the end of the road. Other than the highway by which we arrived, the only roads out are gravel or dirt, and pretty iffy this time of year. I've actually traveled on one of them in the fall a number of years ago, but that's another story.
A quick shot back over my shoulder to get the post office, too--didn't want you to think that Imnaha was really small, did I?)
Okay, back to the bank robbery. the surviving robber, badly wounded, was taken back to Joseph, where he recovered from his wounds, was tried, and sentenced to eight years in state prison.
Upon being released, he returned to Joseph to establish himself, and became the manager of the bank he had robbed.
The hills near Imnaha.
We expect to return to visit Enterprise and Joseph in a different season, finish the hike we left half done, and get out to the edge of Hells Canyon, accessible by those dirt and gravel roads out of Imnaha. Hopefully the museum will be open in Joseph, as we want to see one exhibit our impromptu guide told us about. He said he was upstairs in the museum when he noticed some cards--not very large--maybe about the size of half a sheet of paper. On closer inspection he found that they were formal invitations: "You are cordially invited to the execution of..."
See, I told you, there's gotta be a story...
An entry to This Way Thursday. See others here.