Deschutes by the Decades

100 years of library services and resources for the people of Deschutes County

Deschutes County residents numbered 30,442 in 1970, with 13,710 people in Bend and 3,721 in Redmond. The 1970s brought change to Deschutes County, as lumber mills began their slow contraction and destination resorts like Sunriver, Inn at the Seventh Mountain, and Black Butte Ranch began reshaping the economy of the area.

The Library bookmobile was still making its way to the rural areas of Deschutes County. Twice a week it rolled from its garage to begin its routes, carrying nearly 2,000 volumes. Stops included ranches, general stores, and small schoolhouses. But the goodwill spread by the bookmobile couldn’t save the Library from dark days. In 1974 the Deschutes County Commission eliminated library funding to trim its budget, and in July of that year the doors closed to the Library on Wall Street due to lack of funds. A Bend Bulletin article at the time noted, “The library, meanwhile, has almost ceased to exist. The rooms containing the 60,000 books are dark. …all lights have been extinguished. …the telephones have been disconnected.”

A tax levy was soon approved by the voters, allowing the library to open its doors once again. Another two-year levy was approved in 1975, but the financial challenges would carry on over the coming decades, with library funding consistently in limbo as a line item on the county budget.

The 1970s also marked the beginning of the Library’s move toward computerizing some of its functions. From fine-tuning collections to generating reports on overdue books, the new system was a source of assistance and frustration for staff. It was at this time that the card catalogs began their decline, with books listed by subject, author, and title on large computer printouts.

While the library struggled with consistent funding, population increases throughout Deschutes County led to two important expansions. Built in 1925, St. Charles Hospital reached its size limit at its original location at the corner of Lava Road and Franklin Avenue in downtown Bend. Under the visionary leadership of Sister Kathryn Hellman, the hospital turned its eyes to the open spaces on the east side of Pilot Butte, and the new hospital opened on 1975—with worried citizens wondering why they had built so far from town.

Similarly, the creation of Mt. View High School in 1977 divided Bend’s teenagers for the first time into two schools. Nowhere was this more keenly felt than in one of Bend’s favorite past times: high school football. The decades-long annual rivalry with Redmond High School was replaced by a ‘Civil War’ between the two Bend high schools, with controversy over dividing the communities' star players between the two schools.

A local and regional landmark built in 1917, the Pilot Butte Inn in Bend fell on hard times in the 1960s. In 1973 it became the first Deschutes County property placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The distinction was short-lived, however, and the Inn was demolished the same year.

New events flourished in the 1970s. In 1975 in Sisters, Jean Wells hung 12 handmade quilts outside her store and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Festival is born, now the largest of its kind in the world. In 1976, Jenny and Dave Sheldon launched the first Pole Peddle Paddle. In 1977, the Fourth of July fireworks of Drake Park were replaced by the fireworks from Pilot Butte. In Sunriver, the dreams of Ray Fabrizio and Doug and Polly Kahle of music in the Great Hall led to the foundation of the Sunriver Music Festival in 1978.

Page Last Modified Wednesday, March 8, 2023