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Our Town: Roseburg

OPB | June 1, 2012 9:06 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 11:35 p.m.

John Rosman / OPB

Roseburg, Oregon is a city of 21,790 in the southwestern part of the state. It’s within 100 miles of three of the state’s national forests, which is why its history is so closely entwined with the that of the timber industry. After World War II, Roseburg was known as the Timber Capitol of the Nation, due to the abundance of Douglas Fir lumber produced in and around the small city. The spike in demand for housing, and lumber to build it, also made way for the philanthropy that still continues in Roseburg today. Family-owned timber companies still employ many Roseburg residents, but these businesses are no longer the backbone of the community they once were. The recession has been particularly rough for the industry, especially due to the decline in home-building.

The choices students are making about what to study at Umpqua Community College (UCC) are a good indicator of what’s next for this town. Healthcare, particularly nursing, is a popular field and there’s a brand new addition to the Southern Oregon Wine Institute at UCC. The program offers a one-year certificate and an associate’s degree. Both paths teach students how to cultivate grapes and how to make them into wine. The local wine industry has experienced a recent growth spurt, but it also has a rich history in the region, which has always been home to fertile farmland.

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 Roseburg.

Here are some photos from our live show at Joe Monkey:

Do you live in Roseburg? Have you visited? What has shaped this city? What will determine its future?

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