Ortley was originally developed by the Hood River Orchard & Land Company which filed a plat for the townsite in 1911, naming it for the Ortley, a variety of apple. The company sold town lots and small orchard parcels, and Ortley quickly grew to a population of 300. The community included a post office, several shops and a hotel. However, the land proved unsuitable for apple production because of the prevailing high winds and scarcity of water. By 1922, the town was all but abandoned, and in that year the post office closed.