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Bend, Oregon and Its Blue Collar History Roots

Mar 12, 2008
Trappers and explorers followed what is now called the Deschutes River to come to the Bend area back in the day. The name, originally named Riviere des Chutes or Riviere aux Chutes, came from a great number of waterfalls explorers came upon following the river through central Oregon.

It was the French traders who named it fully as Riviere des Chutes, which means "river of the falls," later shortened to just Deschutes. The main falls that helped coin the name was called Celilo Falls, which no longer exists due to its demise in the construction of the Dalles Dam in 1959.

The area was not formally recognized as a town until 1904. Basically it was a string of homesteaders trying to eke out a living irrigating farmland from the river and selling timber. A man by the name of A.M. Drake came over to the fledgling settlement, motivated by the Carey Act of 1894 to push the expansion of the U.S., and bought a ton of land in hopes of making it a full township. Drake was economically successful and built many business projects that dramatically boosted the town's population.

Others from Wisconsin followed Drakes stake in the township and more and more commerce was created, mainly centered on the timber industry. Clyde McKay was one of those residents who capitalized on the timber industry. He did well enough to buy out Drakes' holdings to form the Bend Company that resulted in two huge sawmills which generated a thousand percent gain in the population from 1910 to 1920, resulting in a need for lodging around Mt. Bachelor, a mountain that today is known for great skiing.

Special Case in Bend's Name

The fact was that Bend was a name that was shortened down. It was originally known as Farewell Bend. Bend's future, before it was considered a town, was quite uncertain. The Farewell Bend name came originally from the Farewell Bend ranch, which was arguably originating from what travelers coined the name as.

So the story goes that when they left this resting spot in the river bend, they would commonly refer to it as Farewell Bend as they bid farewell to continue on their travels following the Deschutes River.

Bend Today

Bend's sawmills have closed their doors several decades ago and sort of fell into an economic slump. However it got its shot in the arm as many urbanites turned backcountry thrill seekers found Bend to be a mecca for outdoor sports and clean air.

Today you will find a mix bag of yuppie urban transplants and older retirees from the mill. The town teems with life as skiing at Mt. Bachelor has scored high ranks among Oregonians. So Mt. Bachelor lodging has catapulted to compensate for the vast amount of tourists each year.
About the Author
Mt. Bachelor (http://www.mtbachelorlodging.com) is a premier Oregon skiing vacation hot spot. Mt. Bachelor lodging, specifically the Sun River Resort, has turned the heads of some major organizations such as AAA and Conde Nast Traveler. The article's author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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