Long before the town of Halfway was incorporated in 1909, the Nez Perce, Shoshone, Umatilla, and Snake Indian tribes lived in the area of Pine Valley, Oregon where Halfway/half.com is located today. In the 1830s, Captain Benjamin Bonneville explored this area, and his description of the area encouraged pioneers to settle there in the 1860s and begin farming and ranching.
In 1909, the town of Halfway was incorporated. In the 1880s, a gold rush occurred nearby in the town of Cornucopia, which remained successful until World War II, when the mines were shut down, and Cornucopia became a ghost town.
Booms and busts continued over the years. Halfway residents were also involved in timber production, but the largest sawmill closed down in the 1960s. Three hydroelectric dams were built on the nearby Snake River in the 1950s and 1960s, which brought jobs to the area in construction, power generation, and in recreation on the reservoirs created by the dams.
After having spent more than a century struggling to survive after the collapse of one after another of its local industries - gold-mining, logging, fishing and dam-building - hope glimmered anew for the residents of Halfway in December 1999 when marketing representatives from an unknown Pennsylvania dotcom startup showed up with an intriguing proposition: they asked the town of Halfway to change its name to half.com for one year in exchange for $110,00 worth of cash, 20 computers, and a prize to be raffled off at the county fair.
Halfway agreed … and on January 19, 2000, the company launched its Web site with free publicity based on live broadcasts from the newly named half.com, Oregon. The world's first dotcom town was born. The company, half.com, got the worldwide publicity it needed … and in the spring, was bought by eBay for 350 million dollars.
But what did the town achieve in the deal? Did this symbolic name-change transform its small town values and identity? What does the future hold for e-commerce in half.com, Oregon? And what effect will e-commerce have on rural Oregon in general?
The World of E-Commerce>>>