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The History of Bend

Deschutes County, Oregon, is home to the city of Bend, which is rooted beside the famed Deschutes River at the eastern foot of the Cascade Range. The name of this city stems from the nickname “Farewell Bend,”   a moniker once utilized by pioneers to refer to the area alongside the Deschutes River where travelers would rest before embarking upon the rest of their journey. In later years, that area is where the town sprouted.  In its earliest stages, the area of Bend, Oregon was a logging town.  Today, this history has forged the way to its current tourist status as an attractive site for hiking, swimming, bird watching, camping, skiing, biking and other outdoor adventures.

Prior to 1824, only Native Americans hunted, fished and thrived in Bend, Oregon.  However, in winter 1824, a fur trapping party led by Peter Skeen Ogden visited the area. Many French-Canadian fur trappers also welcomed the attractions of this central Cascade Mountain Range property. French-speaking fur trappers even named the Deschutes River “River of the Falls,” or Riviere des Chutes.

In later years, other pioneers such as John Fremont and miscellaneous army surveyors visited the region. John Young Todd built a bridge across the Deschutes River in 1860.  However, true formalized settlement did not occur until the early 1900s, when Alexander Drake founded the Pilot Butte Development Company.  As the business grew, a small community also developed in close proximity to the river. By 1904, the city’s residents incorporated the city. The city was incorporated with approximately 300 people. A.H. Goodwillie was appointed as the first mayor of the area on January 4, 1905.

Bend prospered in the early 1900s and even adopted its first fire protection system in 1905. In 1911, the Oregon Trunk Railroad was completed. James J. Hill and E. H. Harriman also helped to lay railroad tracks in the area. Those tracks helped open the door to burgeoning tourism, which aided the logging industry. By 1914, lumber companies emerged as the foundation of the local economy, thus giving rise to Bend’s history as a logging town.

Residents created Deschutes County in 1917. At that time, the county was created from a small portion of the western area of Crook County. Bend was selected as the county seat. Two years later, on February 24, 1919, the city’s Fire Department was created by the City Council.

Population and economic growth were gradual developments until Mt. Bachelor became a prime venue for skiing.  This attraction stimulated the tourist economy, and eventually led to growth in the industrial and commercial sectors as well. As more and more jobs were created, the population of Bend also grew.
 

Today, visitors and residents alike are able to observe Bend’s pride in their rich history. Drake Park, for instance, is named after Alexander M. Drake, one of the community’s first settlers. Fortunately, the area is no longer solely dependent upon logging, but has now shifted to Tourism as it's primary revenue source.  There has also been a great deal of effort by many who are working hard to attract mid-size companies to the area to help alleviate the dependency upon tourism as the only base industry in the area.

Need more information about the Central Oregon Area?  Please feel free to call or email me anytime!

  Email:  terryd@gobend.com
 

 
235 SE Wilson Ave..
Bend, OR  97702

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