Bend, Oregon History and Statistics
When you walk, drive, or ride around Bend, you’ll notice unique names of streets and places. These names tell a story of Bend’s early history.
Drake Park, for example, wasn’t named after a duck. The beautiful park, peacefully hugging Mirror Pond, was named after Alexander M. Drake, a frontier developer. In fact, Mirror Pond isn’t a pond, either. It’s a gently flowing river springing from the Cascade Mountains, which is reflected in its glassy surface.
More than 100 years ago, pioneers took refuge and relaxed here. Once they spotted Pilot Butte on the horizon, incoming pioneers knew they were approaching the twisting riverbanks of the Deschutes River, home to more than 300 early settlers. They lived in an area called Farewell Bend, which was the common saying when the pioneers sadly continued on with their westward journey. In November 1904 the residents voted to incorporate to a city. The town needed a name, and what better name was there than its trademark? In January 1905, the citizens dropped the farewell part and nailed up the sign that said, "Welcome to Bend, Oregon."
Soon after, the race was on between two railroad barons, James J. Hill and E.H. Harriman, laying tracks that would later open the doors to logging commerce and tourism. The Brooks-Scanlon and the Shevlin-Hixon mills were the largest timber mills of their day, making Bend a very prosperous place to live, work, and play.
Though the mills have long been closed, the lifestyle and the vibrant culture of a booming town remains. Today, the old Brooks-Scanlon mill is humming once again, not with sawmills but with the sounds of people enjoying shopping, dining, and entertainment in the renovated Old Mill District. The historic Downtown area, full of art, fine dining, and unique shops is bustling with year-round activities and events. Relax in Drake Park and listen to music for free while indulging yourself with offerings from Bend’s finest restaurants. The stars shine as bright in the sky as they do on the stages of the Les Schwab Amphitheater, the Tower Theater, and the Athletic Club of Bend. Everything in keeping with tradition and culture of welcoming new people to a place called Bend.
Deschutes County is celebrating its centennial in 2016.