Subtopic : Post-Industrial Years: 1970-Present: Communities in the Post-Industrial Period
Themes: Social Relations
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Bend, Redmond, Sisters and Sunriver are emerging as the post-industrial centers of central Oregon, although all communities share post-industrial attributes. Warm Springs balances the tribal lumber mill with recreation business at Kah-Nee-Ta. Prineville serves as headquarters for the Les Schwab and the Ochoco Lumber Company, which operates other mills in John Day, Oregon, and in Lithuania. Prineville also has a group of secondary wood products plants. Madras has mint oil and seed businesses and one of the largest secondary wood products manufacturing plants in the region.
For Sisters, the end of the century brought an emphasis on tourism and retailing. The publishing business has taken root there as well, with several small presses and publications represented. Sunriver, which began as a destination resort in the 1960s, has matured into a community of permanent residents. The economic foundation of Sunriver continues to be tourism, with a substantial population of retired people.
Although all central Oregon communities have undergone rapid changes, none has been more profoundly affected by the new times than the tiny ranching town of Antelope. In June 1981, followers of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rashneesh purchased the 64,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch near Antelope for $5.7 million, establishing a community they called Rashneeshpuram. The Rashneeshees, as they were known, gained control of the Antelope City Council in 1984 and changed the name of Antelope to Rashneesh. In August 1984, the sect began bussing homeless people from other U.S. cities to Rashneeshpuram, and registering them as Wasco County voters. After a series of bizarre incidents including an alleged attempt to poison residents of The Dalles, the Bhagwan and some of his followers fled to North Carolina. There he was arrested on charges of immigration fraud and was brought back to Oregon for trial. He was convicted, fined $400,000, and deported from the United States. The faithful accompanied the Bhagwan back to Pune, India, the homeless drifted away, the ranch was sold to new owners, and life eventually returned to normal in Antelope, which got its old name back in 1986.
© Ward Tonsfeldt & Paul G. Claeyssens, 2004.
Themes: Social Relations
Regions: Central Oregon
Author: Ward Tonsfeldt & Paul G. Claeyssens
Several central Oregon communities are leading the way into the post-industrial twenty-first century.
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