Looking Back on 100 Years of History

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The City of Redmond celebrates its centennial this year, marking the perfect occasion to look back at how this bustling municipality was born 100 years ago.

Oregon had already been a state for 45 years when city namesakes Frank and Josephine Redmond became some of the area’s first homesteaders, setting up their home near a canal right-of-way and projected rail line. Other investors quickly saw the value of the area, and Redmond’s population grew to 216 by the time it was incorporated. In 1910, Redmond boasted a downtown thriving with commercial shops, a volunteer fire department, library, small hospital, town bank, laundry, lumberyard and several new businesses.

Naturally, Redmond’s quick growth was spurred by the railroad line that was built through the town. The final symbolic golden spike that completed the rail line was driven into place on September 21, 1911, leading to a huge Railroad Days celebration.

One of the city’s early memorable characters was William Wilson, owner of the Redmond Hotel, which was built in 1928 and was billed as the finest hotel east of the Cascades. Wilson was known to call local businessmen to lunch by standing in the street ringing a cowbell in the 1920s.

The city’s reputation as a dog haven has early roots, dating back to the “first dog.” In January 1914, the Redmond City Council passed a dog license ordinance with the goal of controlling the population of stray canines. Redmond’s first dog, “Bill Jones,” had once belonged to Redmond’s mayor, but had been given away and spent much of his time wandering the streets, making new friends. Because of the new license requirement, friends of Bill Jones chipped in ten cents each to buy him a license for the next six years. (source: Where the Desert Blooms by Keith Clark)

Redmond’s thriving Roberts Field Airport was born in 1943 when the U.S. Air Force chose Redmond for a B17 and P38 training base. The base later led to the establishment of commercial air service after World War II. Today, Roberts Field serves all of Central Oregon, and is the state’s fourth-largest commercial service airport.

Modern-day, Redmond is a vibrant hub of activity, full of eclectic opportunities to shop, dine and enjoy the outdoors. With a population of 24,805 residents, it is growing at a rate of about 11 percent a year, making it one of the state’s fastest growing industrial and residential communities.

To learn more about Redmond’s history, be sure to visit the Redmond Historical Commission’s new museum. Artifacts on display, which include handcrafted clothing, photography, leather goods, musical instruments and more, paint a picture of what daily life was like for Redmond’s earliest residents. Many of the display items were donated by families throughout the region.

One of the museum’s current exhibits pays homage to the tradition of photographing Central Oregon’s stunning landscapes. Through the end of the year, the museum is hosting an exhibit of antique photography equipment used to capture on film some of the best that nature has to offer.

The museum is open to the public 11am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday. There is no fee to visit the museum but they gladly accept donations. To take some history home, purchase the 657 Potato Recipes Cookbook, which celebrates 100 years of the Redmond Potato Show recipes dating from 1906-2006.

Redmond History Museum 529 SW Seventh Street, Redmond 541-504-3030 –

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