How the desert road stop on Hwy 395 got the name Wagontire remains as unanswered today as it was in 1903 when the Lake County Examiner newspaper told its story.
The windblown road stop north of Lakeview, Ore., was named for Wagontire Mountain, near the geographic center of the Eastern Oregon desert. The mountain was originally called Rams Peak, supposedly after an old ram who guarded his flock of mountain sheep there. Later the name changed to Wagontire.
Some say people called the mountain Wagontire because a rocky outline on its side suggested a wagon tire. Apparently, that was too tame a reason for some people, who said the name derived from a pile of old wagon tires left near a spring at the base of the mountain. The mystery of the wagon tires fueled more speculation. Many came to believe the tires were all that remained of a wagon train attacked by Indians, even though no skeletons were found in the area. Were the bodies buried by survivors? Or later immigrants? Did Indians burn the wagons and make off with their contents?
The answers are as unknown today as they were in 1903.
Sources: Frazier, Joseph B. "Life Takes On A Slow Pace In Wagontire." Albany Democrat-Herald, (Associated Press), 2 Apr. 2000, democratherald.com/life-takes-on-a-slow-pace-in-wagontire/article_c951675c-d258-54d5-9a27-5a45961cb7c3.html. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017; “Story of Wagontire." Lake County Examiner, 22 Jan. 1903 [Lakeview Oregon] , p. 4. Historical Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn97071141/1903-01-22/ed-1/seq-4/. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017.