Brewing up Trouble

historic photos courtesy of Baker County Library

While on the subject of future tourist attraction and business opportunities, look a block south of Auburn Street. We’ve been here before, in “The Modern Troughs.” Borello’s, previously One-Eyed Charlie’s previously Ichalaba previously Whitman National Forest headquarters previously Killen, Warner, & Stewart Mining Stock previously Sumpter Townsite Syndicate. And maybe a few other things besides.

Borello's02       Sumpter Townsite Co_nodate02

Well, I was chatting with my crazy friend, and she’d been chatting with someone about how it would be interesting for a microbrew to be established in the Townsite Building. The microbrew could name its different products for the different businesses that had been housed in the building. The first brew produced, the one to become the signature bottled product, would have to be named Syndicate.

Sumpter historian Brooks Hawley doesn’t give a build date for building on his 1965 map of the boom year businesses in Sumpter. It was built after the arrival of the railroad in 1896; the track prevented the syndicate from building a rectangular building with square corners. Instead, the building is a trapezoid, where the front width is greater than the back width because the north wall was built angling away from the rails. Pictures of the interior are dated prior to 1910.

S_townsite_interior_nodate                S_townsite_1900_10_interior02

According to Wikipedia, Whitman National Forest—the precursor to the current Wallowa-Whitman National Forest—was established July 1, 1908. So the interior pictures may represent townsite offices, mining offices, or forest offices, depending on when each business occupied space in the building and when the photos actually were taken.

As to where the microbrewery would get its ingredients, hops grow in several places in Sumpter. They’re found outside the old Basche Building two blocks north of Auburn on Mill Street. They’re found growing up the outside of one of the old homes two-and-a-half blocks east of Mill on Auburn. I have no idea how good they are for brewing, but hops grow here. In the photos below, they are a bit dormant.

old city hall_cell       Toll house

So, a microbrewery in an historic building in town, lots of brew names to choose from, and local conditions that allow use of a local crop. What could be better? Hey, there’s a lot of old apple trees in Sumpter, too, so the brewery could add those tart little suckers to one of their mixes. Whether it’s a porter or a hard cider, how about that be the bottle marked One-Eyed Charlie’s?

By the way, according to one source, those first Sumpter townsites cost $25 each. What a deal!


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