When you drop down a High Desert plateau into Prineville from the west, it’s clear what brought early Central Oregon settlers to this desert town.
Two creeks and a river greet visitors through a sea of trees while a wall of rimrock shelters the valley from the elements. Former home to vast timber and cattle empires, Prineville was built on the banks of the Crooked River to take advantage of the wealth of the forests and range land surrounding it.
Prineville is Crook County’s largest community and its only incorporated city. Prineville is the county seat and home to the Crook County courthouse, a historic 1909 building that is considered one of the region’s most beautiful. The three-story courthouse is topped by a clock tower that makes it Prineville’s tallest building.
Crook County hasn’t lost its dependence on the timber industry. But tire distribution is a huge and growing industry in the county. The home-grown Les Schwab Tire Centers, with stores throughout the West, is still headquartered in Prineville and employs about 1,000 people in it’s administrative headquarters and distribution center.
Outside of Prineville ranching and farming is still an important industry and way of life. Many raise cattle in the arid lands near Post and Paulina. Farmers raise grain, seed crops, garlic, mint and sugar beets near Powell Butte, which is also home to one of the region’s oldest churches, the Powell Butte Christian Church.
But an ever-growing number of non-farming residents have discovered the community’s expansive views and easy access to Bend and Redmond.
To the south of Prineville, Prineville Reservoir provides water to irrigate that farmland, and is a popular recreation spot for anglers, boaters, swimmers and campers.
To the east, the Ochoco National Forest is another recreation Mecca for campers, hikers and wildlife watchers.
Founded in 1872 and named after merchant Barney Prine, Prineville is Central Oregon’s oldest city. It’s said that Prine sold whiskey from a barrel in the front room of his establishment, and blacksmithing goods in the back room. It’s also said that the man did more business in the front room than in the back room.
Today, the cowboy roots of Prineville are evident in its independent spirit and self-reliant nature.
Central Oregon Visitors Association
661 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite 1301, Bend, OR 97702
Prineville Crook County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center
102 NW 2nd Street Prineville, OR 97754