The city that is current day Arlington was founded by J.W. Smith under the name Alkali in 1882. It was then incorporated as Arlington under a charter from the Oregon Legislature on November 20, 1885 as Arlington. Arlington was the original county seat of Gilliam County until 1890 when it was moved nearer to the then geographic center in Condon.
Two persons of note have called Arlington home. The first was Earl Snell the 23rd and first “Oregon-born” governor of the great state of Oregon, after whom Earl Snell park is named. The second, ‘Doc’ Severinsen the gifted trumpet player, was born in Arlington and graduated from Arlington High School before leaving to become a band leader on the Tonight Show with both Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.
Arlington is one of the cities which was relocated during the creation of Lake Umatilla by the John Day Dam’s construction. When dam construction was started in 1958 Arlington was moved approximately ¼ mile south, up the canyon, to its present day location, Earl Snell park is approximately where the old town was located. The John Day hydroelectric project officially started service on July 16, 1968, but construction on the dam was not completed until 1971.
Currently, Arlington has nearly 600 person population. The city is a good place to enjoy small town life, take in water sports and watch the stars in the sky at night. There are multiple community events in which to get involved and best of all no traffic or stoplights!