About This Place
John Day is a city located about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Canyon City in Grant County, Oregon, at the intersection of U.S. Routes 26 and 395. The city was named for the nearby John Day River, which had been named for a Virginian member of the 1811 Astor Expedition, John Day. The city was incorporated in 1901.
As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 1,821, making it the largest city in the county. The official population estimate in 2002 was 1,672.
The first homestead staked in Grant County (what was then Wasco County), in 1862 by B. C. Trowbridge, was within the limits of the present city of John Day. The Eastern Oregon community was not as quick to grow as neighboring Canyon City, which was the county seat and center of the bustling mining industry in the area. Incrementally, local merchants and residents began relocating to John Day—primarily each time after severe fires in Canyon City: the Grant County Courthouse burned in 1870, Chinatown burned in 1885, and fires in 1898 and 1937 devastated Canyon City's downtown.