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ONLINE ONLY: Deschutes by the Decade - Economic Change and the 1950s

Friday, April 17, 2020, 1:00 AM - 2:00 AM

The 1950s brought economic change to Deschutes County.

Around Deschutes County, the 1950s marked a time of economic change. 1950 ended with the Shevlin-Hixon mill's closure and sale to rival Brooks-Scanlon. Shevlin-Hixon crews felled the last tree on December 12, with the last log sawn and milled on December 26. While Brooks-Scanlon operated beyond the 1950s, over the decade the log trains gave way to log trucks and logging camps were disbanded. The trestle timbers from Shevlin Park were re-milled and used for the expansion of the Bend Library.

Hollywood came calling in the 1950s. A production company owned in part by Kirk Douglas built "Fort Benham" near Benham Falls, a western movie-style frontier "fort" specifically for the movie Indian Fighter. The movies Tonka and Oregon Passage, as well as episodes of the TV show Have Gun Will Travel, filmed at the fort.

The Redmond Airport terminal was dedicated in 1950, and in 1951 construction began on Central Oregon District Hospital in Redmond. In 1952, the first traffic lights arrived in Central Oregon. Cable television arrived in fall of 1955; cost of installation was $149.96.

The Skyliners Ski Club reactivated its membership in 1954, building new ski huts and improving access to skiing at Tumalo Hill. Two members of the Skyliners, Bill Healy and Gene Gillis, thought bigger: Bachelor Butte, which opened October 1958 with one lift, two rope tows, and Egan Lodge. A new economic driver for the region was born, with day lift tickets costing $3, and season passes $50.

The decade came to an end with drama in the skies: residents were consumed with the news of a UFO sighting over Redmond. The population of Deschutes County has inched up only slightly to 23,100.

The Deschutes Public Library turns 100 years old in 2020! We celebrate our 100th anniversary with a new series of programs titled "Deschutes by the Decades." This series will explore and reflect upon Deschutes County's history through the last ten decades. Although there has been tremendous change over these 100 years, the Deschutes Public Library's commitment and dedication to serve the residents and communities in Deschutes County has stayed steadfast.

Phone: (541) 312-1032
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601 N.W. Wall St.
Bend, OR 97701

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