How the City was founded:
Athena began at an early stage in the settlement of Umatilla County, and in 1978 celebrated its centennial year. Darwin Richards established a stage house where a branch of the Oregon Trail crossed Wildhorse Creek on its way from the upper Umatilla Valley to Walla Walla, Washington. As wheat farmers homesteaded the surrounding grassy hills, a town site was platted, and by 1878 the little community had outgrown its earlier nicknames of Yellow Dog, MudFlats, and Middletown to be officially known as Centerville. Within 15 years the rapid settlement of the fertile wheat district and the establishment of retail business and home industries to serve the farms’ needs had created a boomtown out of Centerville. By 1892, the population had reached 1,000 and the name had been changed to Athena.