The History of Bend Oregon

Situated in at the edge of the eastern foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains the growing city of Bend can be found. Covering an area of around thirty square miles and sitting at an altitude of 3625 feet Bend is noted for its beautiful location and the availability of activities all year round. Originally a logging town Bend is now known as a gateway to all the area has to offer; especially outdoor sports such as mountain biking, fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, rafting, skiing and golf.

Peter Skene Ogden came to Central Oregon in 1825 hunting beaver, he came close to Bend but it wasn’t until 1834 when Nathaniel Wyeth and his party also hunting beaver that the location now called Bend was first visited by white explorers. No doubt gold hunters passed through on their way to the John Day Valley in 1862 but they left no permanent trace at Bend. There is a record in the US Land Office of a stockman who filed a claim on the area in 1874; this was followed by others over the next few years. In 1877 John Todd bought out the rights of an earlier pioneer by the name of Tom Greer; he bought the old “Farewell Bend” Ranch for sixty dollars and two saddle horses. The ranch was located in the area now known as the Old Mill District on the east side of the Deschutes River. The point known as Farewell Bend was one of the few points along the Deschutes River that was fordable.

It wasn’t until 1900 that anything other than a ranch was thought of. In this year Alexander Drake founded the Pilot Butte Development Company and with the building of his lodge the settlement of Bend came into being. It wasn’t always called Bend though, in the 1870’s a claim had been filed for the “Farewell Bend” Ranch with another nearby. The second claim was filed by a William Staats who called his settlement “Deschutes”, although it was also known as “Staats” whereas Drake who had bought the original “Farewell Bend” Ranch favoured the name “Pilot Butte”. There was also talk of calling it Farewell Bend but in the end the officials of the United States Post Office had the final say; they decided that the name was to be Bend and after the town was incorporated in 1904 the area known as Deschutes was absorbed into it.

In 1929 Bend changed from a town with a council to a city with a commission, Georg Gove was the first mayor under this new form of governance. The population of Bend has increased dramatically over the years, in 1904 there were only 300 inhabitants and by the time of its change in governance the population had increased to nearly five and a half thousand. This had doubled by the sixties and by the year 2000 had grown to over fifty thousand. By the year 2007 there were around seventy seven thousand people living in Bend. When Deschutes County came into being Bend was chosen as the county seat.


Cole, Leslie & Yuskavitch, James – Insider’s Guide to Bend & Central Oregon – Globe Pequot Press (2002)

Hatton, Raymond R – Bend in Central Oregon – Binford & Mort (1978)