In 1937, the atmosphere in Bend, Oregon, was marked by a spirit of adaptation, community resilience, and resourcefulness, as the town navigated the challenges of the Great Depression. As a key lumber-producing center in Central Oregon, Bend faced significant economic difficulties during this period. However, its residents displayed tenacity and embraced new opportunities to support their community and lay the groundwork for future growth.
Bend's economy in the early 20th century was largely driven by the lumber industry, with mills such as the Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon mills providing employment for many local residents. However, the Great Depression led to a decline in demand for lumber, causing mills to reduce production and lay off workers. This economic downturn affected not only the lumber industry but also the town's businesses and infrastructure.
In response to these challenges, the residents of Bend demonstrated a spirit of adaptation and resourcefulness. The town's leaders and community members sought new ways to bolster the local economy and create jobs. One such initiative was the establishment of the Bend Water, Light & Power Company, which provided much-needed electricity to the town and facilitated the growth of local businesses.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, played a significant role in Bend's development during this time. The CCC employed young men to work on various projects in the surrounding Deschutes National Forest, including trail construction, erosion control, and fire prevention efforts. These projects not only provided employment for Bend's residents but also helped to protect and preserve the natural environment that the town relied on for its timber industry.
The spirit of community resilience and support was further exemplified by the establishment of the Bend Amateur Athletic Club (BAAC) in 1937. The BAAC provided recreational opportunities for local residents, fostering a sense of unity and promoting physical fitness in the face of economic hardship. The club organized various sports events and recreational activities, which contributed to the town's social fabric and helped to maintain morale during difficult times.
Bend's unique location in Central Oregon, surrounded by natural beauty and recreational opportunities, would later pave the way for the town's transformation into an outdoor adventure destination. The development of Mount Bachelor as a ski resort in the late 1950s and the growth of tourism in the region can be traced back to the community's appreciation for its natural surroundings during the challenging times of the 1930s.
In conclusion, the spirit of 1937 Bend, Oregon, was characterized by adaptation, community resilience, and resourcefulness in the face of economic adversity. The town's residents navigated the challenges of the Great Depression by seeking new opportunities, fostering a sense of community, and preserving their natural environment. This spirit of tenacity and innovation laid the foundation for Bend's future growth and transformation into the thriving outdoor adventure hub it is today.