Discover the History of Bend

Historic Walking Tours

Begin your historic tour of Bend at the Deschutes Historical Museum where you will walk through the doors of history and into the Reid School building, constructed in 1914. Pick up a Heritage Walk Guide, look through old photographs, and travel through decades of pioneer living and National Forest Service history in each of the classrooms turned exhibits. You can also download their app to explore Bend’s history at your own pace.

Walking tour highlights in downtown Bend

Reid School 1914 – 129 NW Idaho AVE.

This was the first modern school building constructed in Bend, made from locally quarried pink volcanic tuff. It was named after Ruth Reid, Bend’s first school principal, who moved here from New Brunswick, Canada in 1904, and eventually helped to found the city’s first high school.

G.P. Putnam House 1911 – 606 NW Congress St.

George Palmer Putnam, heir to the G.P. Putnam’s Sons Publishing House, moved to Bend from New York City when he was only 21 to seek his fortune. A year later, he was owner and publisher of The Bend Bulletin and at 23, he became the mayor of Bend. Putnam later went on to serve as the Governor of Oregon’s personal secretary. His career as a publisher brought him back to New York where he also worked as a motion picture executive and married one of the most famous women in America, Amelia Earhart. Though Putnam was only in Bend a short time, he is remembered as a romantic figure who had a great deal of influence on this frontier town.

Power Dam 1910 – Downstream from Newport Bridge

This dam was built by the Bend Water Light and Power Company and provided the town with its first source of electrical power. Best of all, the dam created Mirror Pond, which is still used for recreation to this day.

The Liberty Theater 1917 – 851 NW Wall St.

This theater house played movies from 1917 through 1945 and was very popular during WWII with army men who were training to go over seas at Camp Abbot (present-day Sunriver). In 1954, it became the Sears, Roebuck & Company store and turned to real estate offices in the ’70s. Today, it is ​a mixed-use building with condos on the top floor and a event space at street level.