History Lingers

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Monday, August 01, 1022

Entering the last month of summer during an incredibly miserable heat wave. The heat makes me thread through my summers living in Central Oregon. Until recently, summers were mostly reasonably cool, aside from a mid-August hot week or two.

Perhaps such thinking guided me to think more deeply about Central Oregon’s past. This amazing and unique part of Oregon has a complex history. Its long-time citizens still hold old-country western views that collide with its newer and growing population’s tendency toward socialism.

(Excuse me now for dashing out to toss morning hay to my horses. I’ll re-explore these ideas upon returning to finish blogging.)

I’m back, fortunately, without losing track of my thoughts.

I’ve begun to re-read the memoir, FRONTIER DOCTOR, by Urling C. Coe, written in 1939. Coe arrived in Central Oregon as a 23-year-old newly graduated physician in 1904. He became Bend’s first doctor and eventually also the City Mayor.

Reading his memoir is an au natural view of the wild little town of Bend and its rugged population of settlers in the early years before the railroad’s arrival. That anticipated railroad changed everything. Rail commerce enabled profiteering from plundering Bend’s massive surrounding forest. Industrial logging in Central Oregon became a field of riches.

There are some great stories. One is building that railroad, which was a competitive effort between two massive carriers and often involved gunfighting. The other is how Bend changed, grew, and made many investors wealthy.

Another story is how that early beginning continues to influence the modern Bend. Although population growth is changing the area’s politics and preferences, there remains an “Old West” consciousness. Experience and learning from the area’s early settlement and industrial days continue to battle new ideas.

Dear Friends: History is a fascinating study of old vs. new; ahead is more. Diana

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