2/4/2012. Pulpit Rock once stood on a hillside surrounded by nothing but scrub brush and pine trees. In 1838, the Reverends Jason Lee, Daniel Lee, and H.K.W. Perkins founded a Methodist mission there in an attempt to convert the Wasco Indians to Christianity. The Wascopam were known to water their horses at a spring nearby.
For almost a decade, missionaries used the 12-foot-tall oddly shaped rock as a pulpit in order to preach the gospel. (see photo of Native American missionary taken in 1896) Though their efforts to reach the natives were largely ineffectual, the mission itself did become a major stopping place for wagon trains traveling the Oregon Trail. To the footsore, half-starved pioneers pouring into the territory, the cluster of log cabins and outbuildings must have been a welcome sight. An oasis of sorts in the midst of the wilderness.
Though the mission is long since gone, the rock still stands, carefully preserved as a historical monument by local residents. But instead of wilderness, Pulpit Rock now sits smack dab in the middle of a residential street just south of The Dalles-Washtonka High School. An early victim of urban sprawl.
Want to see this unique bit of history for yourself? From I-5, take Exit #84/City Center into the heart of The Dalles, Oregon. Go south (up the hill) on Union Street and then turn left onto 12th. Pulpit Rock is located at the intersection of 12th and Couch Streets. You can’t miss it!