Costner made a surprise visit to Grande Ronde Hospital on Aug. 17, 1991, with his wife, Cindy. The Costners came to the hospital’s emergency room at 11:20 a.m. and left 20 minutes later after Cindy was treated for a scratched eye.
The Costners were vacationing in Northeast Oregon and intended to travel to Idaho. They were not recognized initially by the hospital staff because they were wearing sunglasses, according to a story in the Aug. 19, 1991, Observer. Kevin Costner appeared relaxed and asked many questions about fishing in the area, according to The Observer story.
The Costners divorced in 1994 after 16 years of marriage.
Kevin Costner is best known for films such as “Dances with Wolves” (1990), which he directed and starred in. The movie won seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor. Other popular films Costner has starred in include “Field of Dreams” (1989) and “Swing Vote” (2008).
Crosby and Hoover both made brief stops in La Grande under hurried but less urgent circumstances.
Crosby stopped briefly in La Grande on July 15, 1955. Traveling with one of his sons and two friends, Crosby bought gas for his car at a local service station, according to a story in the July 16, 1955, Observer. The four were bound from Reno, Nevada, to an unknown destination.
One of Crosby’s friends looked out at the mountains in this area and exclaimed, “And we left our chains at home!”
Crosby had a bottle of soda pop while waiting at the service station. His party paid for its gasoline with silver dollars.
The Observer’s headline for the Crosby story was “Old Crooner Stops for Gas in La Grande.” Crosby made the crooning style of singing popular in all parts of the world in the 1930s.
Crosby’s ties to the Northwest were strong. He was born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1904, and his family moved to Spokane when he was 3 years old. He graduated from high school in Spokane in 1920 and attended Gonzaga University. Crosby left Gonzaga during his senior year but the school awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1937.
He stopped in La Grande 13 years after recording Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” one of the top-selling records of all time.
Former President Hoover made a brief visit at about 12:15 p.m. on May 27, 1935, at a Standard service station. Hoover was with a party traveling in a large Buick sedan. They bought gasoline but made no further stops in La Grande, according to a story in the May 27, 1935, Observer. The party had a chauffeur and two other members besides the former president.
Service station attendants did not get a chance to speak with Hoover but said they immediately recognized him.
An Associated Press story indicated that Hoover was bound for Lewiston, Idaho, which he heard had “some of the best fishing in the world.”
An editorial in the May 28, 1935, Observer lamented that Hoover could not have stayed in La Grande longer.
“We of La Grande, Democrats and Republicans alike, would have welcomed a longer stop, a chance to become acquainted with this great man — yet we cannot blame him for his hurry and desire to escape curious mobs.... But we do hope that some day Mr. Hoover will come this way again, and have time to stop for a moment and perhaps chat a bit.”
Hoover, who served as president for one term, from 1929 to 1933, was no stranger to Oregon. He was born in Iowa but came to Oregon in 1885 after both his parents died, to live in Newberg with an uncle. Hoover lived in Oregon for several years before enrolling at Stanford University in 1891.