Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Story: Live at the 1904 Ranch & Mill

Bend's growth, the economy, and how technology is changing our lives are all popular topics, but if you step back into the year 1904, you'll find High Desert folks were grappling with the same things. It's a central theme to a new story unfolding at the Museum’s re-created 1904 ranch and sawmill.

The Miller family – new Living History characters – are portrayed live along with their guests throughout the summer. The area is changing dramatically. Bend’s population has surpassed 400, up from 21 people in 1900. Freighters, stockmen, buckaroos, sheep herders, timber cruisers, gamblers and transients of all kinds have descended upon the boomtown. Timber industry tycoon Alexander Drake is spearheading the area’s development, and a railroad line is expected to reach Central Oregon soon.

New technology – the telephone, automobile and electricity – is arriving. Topics on the national scene include the women’s suffrage movement, President Theodore Roosevelt, and whether plans for the Panama Canal would position America as a maritime, and potentially imperial, power.

A century ago, the residents of Central Oregon were not that different from today. They lived through a period of rapid growth and felt torn between appreciating modern conveniences and concern that their lifestyles were becoming obsolete. People tried to balance optimism for the future with nostalgia for simpler times.

Despite the changes, the Millers are continuing to ranch. The family recently joined other homesteaders to buy a used sawmill from the U.S. Army. Now they can mill timber for barns, sheds, worker bunkhouses and other projects instead of buying lumber from distant mills.

So, stop by our ranch and sawmill from 11 am to 4 pm and chat with the Millers and others from the year 1904 as you help with watering the garden, washing the laundry, cross-cut sawing and working at the mill!

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