A remote location, great food – a Malheur City tradition

Curtis Martin runs the grill at the annual gathering Sunday at what was once Malheur City, northwest of Brogran. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

Tucked in the high hills north of Cow Valley, the Malheur City Convention Center won’t ever host trade shows, political conventions, or industrial exhibitions.

Instead, it comes to life every Memorial Day weekend as families gather to pay their respects at the tidy cemetery holding graves dating back more than a century.

The cemetery, despite its remote location, is well tended. A fence keeps critters at bay. A local ranching family irrigates and trims the grass.

And on this weekend, every grave gets a fresh batch of flower, plastic to last and honor as long as wind and time will allow.

The cemetery is virtually all that remains of Malheur City, once a prosperous community built on gold mining, ranching, and work on the Eldorado Ditch.

Memories of those days are kept alive in the scrap books and photos mounted on the cabin that is the convention center. The oldest of those who attend share their stories, remembering the last days of the old school that later burned down, remembering the accounts of those buried at the cemetery.

They bring enough food to satisfy twice the crowd of 30 or so. Outside, locally-grown beef cooks up on a grill while home-canned pickles are opened. They say a blessing and then dive in, and then it’s time for the annual business meeting and the departing salutations.

Nick Eddy visits with those gathering for the annual Malheur City cemetery deocration and potluck. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

Katsue Wirth looks over historic photos in a scrapbook on Sunday, May 27. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

Patty Philpott places flowers on a grave on Sunday, May 27. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)