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Creston

This town was named about 1889 by engineers for the Northern Pacific Railway, because Brown’s Butte, overlooking the town on the south, is the crest of land, at an elevation of 2,462 feet, in the Big Bend Country. The town made headlines August 5, 1902, when Harry Tracy, notorious outlaw, committed suicide here. Tracy had roamed the country as a desperate criminal until finally confined in the Oregon State Penitentiary. On July 9, 1902, he escaped with a convict named Merrill, after killing one guard and wounding another. Identified by a rancher near Creston, he was trailed by a posse and shot himself rather than surrender. Creston pioneers remember the keen competition and occasional warfare between cattlemen and early settlers. Survey stakes were pulled up so that homesteaders could not establish claims, and local surveyors thrived on homeseekers’ fees. The town has a farm-implement factory and two grain elevators. Scattered across the valley west of town are low-lying ranch houses. Today, the Central Washington Grain Growers Association operates the grain elevators.