The Oregon Lumber Company built a sawmill at Dee in 1906 and named it for Thomas Duncombe Dee, a stockholder and business associate of board member David Eccles. Dee was also a station on the Eccles-owned Mount Hood Railroad. In addition to the large sawmill, Dee had a privately owned water works and electric lighting system, as well as a general store, shops, and a hotel.
Besides logging, Dee's economy is also tied to the fruit-growing industry of the Hood River Valley. The area was one of the primary communities in the Hood River Valley farmed by Nikkei—Japanese migrants and their descendants. The first Japanese in the area were hired as laborers on the Mount Hood Railroad. They also worked at the mill and lived in the company housing on both sides of the East Fork Hood River, which passes through the town.
About 35 Nikkei families lived in Dee in the 1920s and they founded the Dee Japanese Community Hall.
The area's fruit orchards lie between the east and west forks of the Hood River in an area known as Dee Flat.
- "Dee". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) . Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0875952772.
- Friedman, Ralph (1990). In Search of Western Oregon (2nd ed.). Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd. pp. 343, 594. ISBN 0-87004-332-3.
- "Nikkei Farmers of the Hood River Area". Discover Nikkei. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- Carlson, Linda (2003). Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-295-98332-9.
- Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oregon (1940). Oregon: End of the Trail. American Guide Series. Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort. p. 298. OCLC 4874569.
- "Dee Flat". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Team—Wayne Fawbush—Program Officer—New York". Ford Foundation. Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Historic images of Dee from Salem Public Library