"Over the Payette Spur of the Olds Ferry-Ontario Highway, OR201, approximately seven miles north of Ontario, southeasterly to the Idaho State Line near Payette, Idaho."
~ ODOT, Descriptions of US and Oregon Routes, March 2007
While this highway was created at the inception of the Oregon highway system, it was given the route number OR-90 from 1932 until 1952. This highway connected with Idaho State Highway 52, and thus the purpose of the switch from OR-90 to OR-52 was to create route consistency between Oregon and Idaho. This routing has pretty much stayed the same since its inception.
Originally, OR-52 was the designation for the Wapinitia Highway #44 that ran between Warm Springs Jct. and Wapinitia Jct. along the northern border of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Originally, this highway was the central leg of OR-50, which ran between Portland and US-97 at Shaniko Jct. When OR-50 was moved onto the newer Warm Springs Highway #53 (which replaced the Wapinitia Highway between Government Camp and Warm Springs Jct., as well as forged a direct route between Portland and Madras) in 1950, the Wapinitia Highway was given the OR-52 designation. This was short-lived, however, as the OR-52 designation was moved in 1952 (see above). This highway is now the westernmost leg of OR-216.