La Pine has been on the map for a long time. French fur trappers first came to the region in the late 1800s, and — according to one theory — gave the town it’s name based on the jack pine that populated the area.
But though La Pine has been a community for over a hundred years, it only just recently became a city. It incorporated on January 1, 2007 and has spent the time since figuring out how to function as a city. It adopted its charter last year, and just this month the state allowed it to regulate land use and development. City Manager Steve Hasson told Think Out Loud it’s an adventure to try to build a city from scratch:
It’s like Lindbergh crossing Atlantic on way to France, seeing ice piling on his wings. Will you make it or crash?
It took several attempts for the community to approve an incorporation measure, with the city bounds shrinking each time. The plan that passed only included a population of around 1700 residents — just a fraction of the 20,000 or so people who use the post office in the region.
The sentiment in town is that incorporation was a good move, and will bring some efficiency and organization to the community, but the success of the town depends on townspeople remaining active. Carol Brewer has lived here since 1970 and is happy with incorporation, but she says:
Everything that’s been accomplished here was accomplished by volunteers.
We’ve put together a companion website for the Our Town series. Head over there to check out our interactive map which includes interviews and photographs of the people and places of La Pine.
Are you from La Pine? Have you visited? What should people know about Oregon’s newest city? What questions do you have about La Pine?