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1960s NASA training lava fields

Deschutes by the Decades: 1960s

Deschutes County reached 23,100 residents in 1960, with 11,936 in Bend and 3,340 in Redmond, and the growing pains were being felt. The December 12, 1960, editorial of The Bend Bulletin noted that “Bend needs paved streets just as it needs to get the chickens, hogs, goats, and cows out of the city and into the country. We can’t expect to be a first class city, one that attracts new people, if we can’t at least act and look like one.” It was a feeling that stretched around the county. Deschutes County was evolving; in fact, it grew by nearly 30% over the next ten years.

For the library, the decade dawned with a new head librarian, Ivy Grover, who began her new job in 1960 and retired in 1969. A new, larger bookmobile was put into service in 1961, one that could carry 2,300 books—roughly 400 more than the previous bookmobile. But with a growing population and continuous service, the library-on-wheels was “coming in on a wheel and a prayer” just a few years later, according to Grover, and a replacement was needed. An even larger bookmobile—one consisting of a semi-trailer pulled by a Ford tractor—was put into commission in 1967.

While the bookmobiles helped keep things running smoothly, there was turmoil for the library, too. In 1962 library funding was cut by $5,000—nearly $42,000 in today’s dollars—as the city of Bend and Deschutes County wrangled over how to fund a library located in Bend, but which served the entire county. As a result, the library on Wall Street was forced to cut its hours. In the standoff between city and county, The Bend Bulletin noted, “Neither side has won the tug of war, but the library has come out the loser, being forced to operate on 90 per cent of its needed budget.” The county, however, quickly reversed course and voted to restore the budget to fully fund the library’s operating costs. With nearly 60,000 books in its collection, circulating more than 200,000 times, the library was a well-used and well-loved institution.

In 1962, the Bend Hwy 97 By-Pass opened along previously residential 3rd street. In 1967, Wall and Bond Streets became the one-way streets we know today, and Greenwood Avenue widened to four lanes. That same year, Deschutes County residents voted passionately to approve the official Central Oregon Community College district. The generous gift of 140 acres for a campus on Awbrey Butte by Robert and Joyce Coats in spring of 1962 bolstered the campaign for expansion.

In 1964, NASA began training exercises on the lava fields of Central Oregon with astronauts preparing for the moon landing. Central Oregon is able to boast our region as the source of the only earth rock to exist on the moon, placed there by Astronaut James Irwin to honor his training sessions here. While some people came to Central Oregon to reach for the stars, others came to test new ski slopes. In 1965, a ski jump was constructed on Pilot Butte to host the Junior National Ski Jump competition. When the winter in question arrived, the snow did not. Trucked-in snow barely made the event possible and the jump was torn down in 1967.

Events in the 1960s signaled permanent change for Deschutes County. Attendees of the 1965 Bend Water Pageant were unaware they were attending the last pageant, which ended in 1966 due to volunteer and community fatigue.

By the end of the decade, the population of the county reached 30,442.

Page Last Modified Tuesday, May 26, 2020


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