Imnaha, Oregon
Imnaha Oregon 97842

Imnaha is a beautiful name for a stream that rises in the Wallowa Mountains and flows to Snake River through one of the deepest river gorges on the continent. The word was used by William Clark on a map issued with the original Lewis and Clark journals in 1814, in the form Innahar. As far as the writer knows, Capt. Benjamin Bonneville was the first caucasian to go into the Wallowa country. For information about this exploration, see Bonneville. He was in the vicinity of Imnaha River in January and February 1834. It is difficult to follow Bonneville's march as described by Washington Irving, for the geography of the country is obviously confused, but the general character of the landscape is very well described, and Irving's somewhat extravagant style is quite suitable to the remarkable rock formations and almost bottomless canyons the traveler encountered. Besides the river, there is a post office named Imnaha. J. H. Horner of Enterprise, the authority on Wallowa county
history, told the writer in 1927 that Imna was the name of a subchief and that it was the custom among the Native Americans to sound ha to indicate the territory ruled over by a chief. Thus Imnaha was the land ruled over by Imna. Imnaha community is on the Imnaha River at the mouth of Little Sheep Creek, about 30 miles northeast of Joseph. Imnaha post office was established on January 4, 1885, with Alex Findley postmaster.


Every year on the third Saturday of September Imnaha comes alive with fun, food, festivities when 300 to 800 people roll into town. It's time for the Imnaha Canyon Day celebration.

At 11a.m., a black powder muzzle-loader get fires off. That's the signal for the parade to start.

After the parade, local musicians have an old-time country hoe down in the street, which entertains the crowd while they wait in line for the delicious Bear and Rattlesnake Feed at the rustic Imnaha Store. Each year about 300 snakes are served and seven bear roasted in a barbecue pit. Profits from the feed go to the Imnaha Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Imnaha Rodeo Club holds an old fashioned play day every year 1-5 p.m. It includes events such as barrel racing, pole bending and keyhole racing; visitors are invited to bring along their horses and join in. Interspersed are events for the kids without horses such as goat tail tying, stick-horse races and wheelbarrow races.

Then the Cow Chip Lottery, a Scholarship Fund money-raiser, commences and a cow is put into her pen with carefully marked off squares. Everyone anxiously waits to see on which square the cow will drop her chips to determine the lucky winner for a prize of $100.

Following is another old-fashioned and popular event--a Tug-Of-War contest with both men's and women's divisions. Five-member teams compete for prizes and the honor of having their names inscribed on 3-foot trophies displayed at the Imnaha Store.

A Chuck Wagon dinner will be served from 5-7 p.m. at the rodeo grounds.

To wind up a perfect Imnaha kind of day, a dance is held from 7-11 p.m. at the Rodeo grounds.

If you want to taste life as it used to be, come early and stay late in this little country cow town and have a good old-fashioned time!