Building Community: McNary Townsite
We must plan towns in the name of our great nation, for the United States of America, and we must do the very best that we can within the limitations imposed by the yard-sticks of economics and human values - - placing all possible emphasis upon the latter. Anyway, if we can afford it, if we can come reasonably near to monitoring its cost, what is wrong with Utopia?
John M. Allison, McNary Town Manager, April 10, 1946 in a talk to the Engineering Forum in Portland, Oregon
To alleviate a housing crunch, the U.S. government commissioned 344 acres of public domain lands east of Umatilla, and built McNary Townsite. Begun in the spring of 1948, McNary had its own shopping center, library, post office, and recreational facilities. McNary roads had the names of Columbia River tributaries such as Klickitat, Yakima, and Lewis. But, the estimates that 2,800 to 3,000 workers would live in the community were unfulfilled. Due to mechanization, McNary construction required less manual labor than earlier dams. By mid-1949, with Washington shore construction almost completed, McNary had only 850 people.