Condon, Ore., one of TDS‘ serving areas, may only be three hours from Portland, but it’s quite a change of pace from the big city. The population of the City of Condon was just 682 at the last census, but the community and surrounding area have a rich history.
Before 1900, the community developed steadily due to the grain and livestock grown here. But in 1905, Condon became the end point on a junction to the Union Pacific mainline which brought even more growth. The rail line to Condon was used through the 1980s and the original Condon station is still standing. The historic station is just one of many original buildings in Condon and in fact, much of the downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places for its period architecture.
Downtown Condon isn’t the only thing historic here. Condon Air Force Station, built in 1951, was one of only twenty-eight such stations built as part of a permanent radar program. The station was built at the start of the Korean War and remained active until 1970.
Interestingly, three Nobel Prizes were awarded to Condon alumni. Dr. William Parry Murphy shared the prize in Medicine in 1934 for developing a cure for a form of anemia. Dr. Linus Pauling, considered the founder of quantum chemistry and molecular biology, earned the prize in Chemistry in 1954 and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.
And, in case you were wondering about the origin of the city’s name, Condon was actually originally named Summit Springs around 1879. The community was incorporated in 1893 after the original property changed hands to the legal firm where Harvey C. Condon was a partner. The city retained the Condon name from that point forward.
Another interesting historical fact about Condon: The nephew of Harvey Condon, Thomas Condon, was the State Geologist in 1872 and the first professor of geology at the University of Oregon. Many of his discoveries were made at what is now known as the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument—only about two hours away from Condon.