History of Umatilla
Umatilla has a rich history that spans back over 100 years. We have compiled some interesting tidbits for you starting with the founding of Umatilla in 1856.
  • Umatilla was founded in 1856 by Nathan J. Trowell.
  • The name, Umatilla, was registered with the U.S. Land Office in Gainesville in 1876; was taken from an Oregon town of the same name; is an Indian name meaning "laughing waters."
  • In 1880, the first railroad, the St. Johns and Lake Eustis Line, came from Astor to Eustis, through the settlement now known as Umatilla. The earlier settlers began selling lots, dividing their properties into subdivisions, and the town experienced its first real growth.
  • Truck farming and cattle were the major businesses of the earliest pioneers. They later began planting orange groves, the "big freeze" of 1895 killing most of the trees.
  • A general store, a hotel, a grocery store, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a packing house and four churches had been built by the turn of the century.
  • The first schoolhouse was built in 1874. It had one door, no windows and hewed log benches for the pupils. The first teacher was paid $15.00 per month.
  • On November 8, 1904, an election was held for the purpose of incorporating Umatilla. Of 43 votes cast, 35 were in favor of the incorporation.
  • During the 20th Century Umatilla prospered, with citrus as its dominant business until the freezes of the late 1980's. Current businesses include shops, restaurants, a honey co-op, doctors & dentists, a pharmacy, banks, and a weekly newspaper. Our community also features active civic clubs, churches, a library, exemplary schools and ample recreational activities.