As part of the “Our Town” series, we’re traveling to Monument. This southeastern Oregon town on the John Day River has a population of 128, according the 2010 Census. That doesn’t include people who live in outlying areas who are also part of the community. Ranching is the primary source of employment for people in Monument. This website devoted to the town describes it as a place where wildlife is plentiful:
Rocky mountain elk and mule deer are well know for coming down from the mountains and feeding in the local alfalfa fields and hay stacks. Steelhead spawn in the small creeks that feed into the John Day River, along with small mouth bass and trout. Occasionally, beavers, bald eagles, ospreys, badgers, rock chucks, geese, whooping cranes, antelopes, bobcats, cougars, coyotes and even a rattlesnake can be seen.
Unlike many other towns of its size, Monument has its own school. Residents describe the school as the heart of their community. Because of its size, there are some noticeable differences between the Monument school and schools in more populated areas. For example, the superintendent is also the track coach and the substitute bus driver. The agriculture teacher says he depends on high school students to help him teach the younger grades, especially in the springtime when there’s so much to do in the greenhouse and outdoors.
People make all kinds of accommodations to live in a town like Monument. The closest doctor’s office is 60 miles away in John Day. There’s a small convenience store in town, but people do most of their grocery shopping elsewhere. One resident told us she drives to Bend — three or four hours away, depending on what route she takes — to shop at Costco once a month.
Do you live in Monument or another small Oregon town? What is life like where you live? What is important to you about living in a small community? What do you like best about it? What sacrifices do you have to make in order to stay there?
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 Monument. Come back to this page to share your thoughts and opinions.
Here are some photos shot during the Think Out Loud taping at the Monument Senior Center: