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Think Out Loud

Our Town Central Oregon

Pete Springer/OPB

We’re exploring three very different towns in Central Oregon today: Warm Springs, Bend and La Pine.

Warm Springs

Warm Springs is the town at the center of much of the activity of the Warm Springs Reservation. It’s where people gather for community events, where the elementary school is located, and where the Indian Head Casino and the tribal museum sit. The reservation is also home to hydroelectric and wind energy projects, as well as Warm Springs Composite Products, and the Kahneeta Resort.

 The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is made up of members of the Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute Indian tribes.These three tribes united in 1938. Now they’re all working to keep their distinct cultures and languages alive, and to work together to improve the economic realities of tribal life in Warm Springs.

Check out our companion website and this slideshow from the show we did there:



Most Oregonians are familiar with Bend, whether it’s because of the biking, the beer, or the implosion of the real estate bubble that brought the economy to a halt. That infamous downturn led many here to christen Bend as a place to live in “poverty with a view.” Bend saw the largest drop in house prices in the country. And Californians were no longer buying second homes in the region at the pace they were in the past.

Now, a few years after the bust, the region is still struggling with high unemployment at over 10.9 percent and home prices are just beginning to turn around from the depths of the recession.

But despite those economic difficulties, the town is still focused on growth. The brewing economy is rapidly expanding, and tourism is booming.

We’ll get an update on the housing realities in Bend in this segment. To hear the whole show and to see a slideshow and map of Bend, click here.

La Pine

La Pine’s history dates back to the era when French fur trappers 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 more than a hundred years, it only just recently became a city. It incorporated on January 1, 2007 and community leaders are now figuring out how to function as a city. It adopted its charter in 2011, and in 2012 began 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?

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.

Do you live in Central Oregon? How is your town changing?

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