Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One Hundred Years of Bullshit

As the poster above (circa 1911) attests, the tradition of hyping Bend and Central Oregon as some kind of "paradise" is a long, if not necessarily honorable, one.

In the first decade of the 20th century, railroad moguls James J. Hill and E.H. Harriman had a race to build the first railroad to Bend. Hill won, finishing his Oregon Trunk Railway from the Columbia River to Bend in 1911. On Oct. 5 of that year, Hill came to Bend to personally drive the golden spike symbolizing completion of the link.

The Oregon Historical Society reports: "Hill encouraged people at the ceremony to focus their efforts at cultivating agricultural products for consumption by urbanites.  According to Hill, 'There is no reason why Central Oregon should not produce enormous wealth.  We have a good deal of faith in it.  If we did not have we would not have come here.'"

Trying to make the Oregon Trunk Railway profitable, according to the historical society, Hill "promoted the Bend area as an agricultural garden spot. Some settlers were disappointed, finding the altitude and aridity of the region a hindrance to agriculture. Similar sentiments among settlers on the Northern Plains earned Hill a dubious legacy in the form of this schoolyard rhyme: 'Twixt Hill and Hell there’s just one letter.  Were Hill in Hell we’d feel much better.'"

Once the would-be settlers figured out that the "fertile Deschutes Valley" was more suited to the cultivation of rocks, sagebrush and scrub juniper trees than peaches, apples and tomatoes, the "agricultural garden spot" scam pretty much played out. It was left for later generations of hucksters to come up with a fresh one: the promotion of Bend as an "outdoor recreation paradise." But we're still waiting for Central Oregon to "produce enormous wealth" for anybody but real estate hustlers.

And so it goes.


Marshall_Will said...

"Were Hill in Hell we’d feel much better.'"

Making the recent land-grab RE Bubble all the more ridiculous. Yes, we've seen this pitch before!

Not that we can blame the folks that were duped into coming here before Lusitania was sunk? For our illiterate trolls ( that was before common folk had access to the internets? ) Only rich people had DSL/broadband back then.

Wonderful color Blackdog, thanks for sharing that. Now when some newly-minted RUBE appraoches me on what great "investment opportunities" there are to be had playing "Bend's real estate rebound" I can ask them what they know about Mr. Hill?

Marshall_Will said...

We had [1] nice day in Salem. So all is forgiven. I think the Median Price home should be at least $400,000.

Thanks for 'historic' laughs Bruce! Gawd.........

H. Bruce Miller said...

72 in Bend right now. Expect the median price to go back to $500,000 by the weekend.

Marshall_Will said...

By the weekend!

Remember, you heard it here first folks. What will Median be if it hits 76!?

I may have mentioned earlier that the spread of The Drear in no way gives me pleasure. I remember getting the kids in the car to go OVER to Bend to get OUT of the rain!

Fat chance of that any more. By the way, over at the Portland Housing Blog ( where you'll get your NOSE bitten off for straying off topic ) The Weather is about all we've discussed ( or 'how' it's impacting the long term picture here ) for the last 2 mos.

Tough crowd.

Marshall_Will said...

54 deg. and wall-to-wall Drear here I'm afraid! Median Price slips to cost of improved lot - expense to remove OSB-sheathed crapshack, Chinese-made drywall etc.

Make offer!

While we're delighted our SIL will grad. OSU this Sat., not looking forward to giving up lined jacket and cap to overly ( BLINDLY ) optimistic wife for the duration?

( I've since learned to bring 'spares' to Oregon Commencement ceremonies! ) Ha! Yes, I keep umbrellas in the trunk.

Just curious, if our weather didn't SUCK as bad as it so very obviously DOES, would so many illegal laborers have been necessary in the first place? Just thinking back to when I first got out of the Service, having an "outdoors kinda' job" was a 2nd Class Citizen even back THEN!

Good LORD, what do young people think of being a... landscaper today? Just curious.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Yes, I keep umbrellas in the trunk."

Folks in Bend are so deep in denial of the suckiness of the climate that most of them don't even OWN an umbrella.

One day of pleasant weather in Bend yesterday and now we're back in the suck. Fortunately the accursed Portland Rose Festival Parade happens tomorrow -- once that's out of the way we might have a chance at some consistently warm and sunny weather.

Marshall_Will said...

"Rose Festival Parade happens tomorrow -- once that's out of the way we might have a chance at some consistently warm and sunny weather."

Right, always good to get that obligatory cr@p out of the way and TF OVER with!? Went to our SIL's OSU Commencement yesterday and it was dreary throughout. After 10 mos. of The Drear, kids in black and grannies in walkers, anything over 78 'could' have proved a disaster.

We are in no WAY prepared for that? Medic! While... finally becoming 'pleasant' in the afternoon, it got cool FAST. The sun hadn't even gotten CLOSE to going down and I grabbed a sweater during the Grad party. Everyone is so non-plussed about our weather it isn't funny. Pretty tame 'party'. By college standards.

The Clued Weasel said...

"Folks in Bend are so deep in denial of the suckiness of the climate that most of them don't even OWN an umbrella."

I'm English. I own at least dozen umbrellas. Can never have too many.

Marshall_Will said...

Well at least the Brits own up to the fact their weather can and DOES have its own brand of Suckation ( much like ours ) most of the year.

If one had just come out of a coma since the mid-90's, were wheeled to the window and asked to venture a guess at what month it is just by looking, how many would speculate JUNE!?

For friends that have since come to their senses and built productive non-rain soaked lives elsewhere.., how many would guess the pictures from your camping trip etc. were from Juneuary..?

I mean sanitizing them from all chronological ref? Whitney's birthday, the kid's graduation? Frankly I think they'd be shocked. Especially judging by your attire. How long before our sucky springs/non-existent summers become common knowledge?

H. Bruce Miller said...

Absolutely perfect June day in Bend. I couldn't ask for a prettier one. (Well, I could ask, but I wouldn't get it.)

Marshall_Will said...

74 and SUNNY!? Wow, I noticed you're on the gravy train for yet a SECOND nice day! Although going into Friday ( naturally ) things begin to look shaky.

And that's the very thing I'll never look back on OR and 'miss'. You're never in the 'clear' and cr@ptastic weather is just one wind-shift away.

I'll probably be the rowdiest guy among all my Cabo/HI/Vegas neighbors. Geez, what's 'that' guy's problem..? Total party animal. Oh, he lived in Oregon for almost 30 years.


H. Bruce Miller said...

Yeah, forecast for Saturday looks suckalicious. Then again, today's forecast called for showers and high in the mid-60s. I'm hopeful that the summer high pressure area has formed over the PNW. But you know me, the eternal optimist.

Marshall_Will said...

"the summer high pressure area has formed over the PNW"

The only way to assure that is if we each built our own Bio-Dome. THEN maybe we could get some decent 'weather' around here..?

Just noticing yesterday while up at St. Vincent's in SW PDX that we barely edged above 62. While taking breaks out in the car or grabbing a bite, we had to crank the engine on and get some heat going.

Things went as well or better than can be expected, and I probably 'shouldn't' have been noticing the weather. But I did. It's always been just another thing to kick when you're down. Whether you were working on your truck, having a an already stressful wedding or up at the hospital!

OR's weather has long been the last curveball you could handle. IMHO.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Another bright and sunny day in Bend, but absurdly cold for the middle of June -- only 58, according to my thermometer (in the shade). I doubt it'll break 60.

Marshall_Will said...

"but absurdly cold for the middle of June -- only 58"

Not exactly Chicks in Bikini's Weather now is it? Starting to see a sep. between the Salem/Yreka data. TOOK long enough.

Found a little place that looks reasonably priced down around the La Paz area. Then again ( don't kid yourself, Baja IS... 'Mexico' ) But beach houses for $25-50k is encouraging ANY way you slice it!

H. Bruce Miller said...

The climate's nice, the prices are terrific, but I'd be too worried about the crime. If Mexico ever got the drug cartels under control I'd be willing to consider it as a retirement location, but that seems unlikely to happen in my lifetime.

Marshall_Will said...


Agreed. I had a client, retired surgeon. His mother owned a place in Cabo, but like any good Iowan, he went there sparingly. Went on to explain that for all the 'appearances' ( make no mistake, it's a foreign country! )

My neighbor raves all about MX and their condo is decked out like a freaking CANTINA fer' chrissakes. I always explain to him that I have no desire to "own" land ( THROUGH the government! ) No! No! It's no big deal you just get an atty... and..?

Good friend in Whittier, CA reminds me that the OC Register runs a story about every six mos. like clockwork *warning* readers about the fraud and pitfalls! Like yourself, if they could get a handle on the sleaze, it would be great! Until then..? But as I mentioned, it was the new found sobriety in their 'pricing' I found the most encouraging.

I fear my good friend and neighbor may have a thing for the 'maid' ( and that can't be a good thing ) she the 'lawnboy'? Hey, it's THEIR retirement!

Marshall_Will said...

Bit chilly in the AM when I first went to walk the dog at 5am. Since, it's been more than pleasant, but hardly the temps you'd expect as the norm for this time of year!

While clear and sunny, you'd still want a jacket. The breeze here in Salem is chilly. Next week looks so so.

How Did I Get Here? said...

Wow, Captain Grumpy and some random from Salem complaining about the should allow the anonymous posts again just to keep folks awake.

Marshall_Will said...

"some random from Salem complaining about the weather"

This blog is about OR's WEATHER correct..? Mr. Some Random has lived here in Oregon for nigh on 30 years. You've been here what.., all of [three]? Get back to me on that.

Oh and take a gander out your window. It's Mid-June looking more like Early-March but whatever... In case you haven't noticed even BOISE didn't have a Spring this year. That's in Idaho. So observations from throughOUT the region are now unfortunately germane.

( See Pacific Decadal Oscillation )

Doesn't strike you a bit odd we're almost on the verge of the Summer Solstice and our longest days of the year are still more than a little chilly..? Good Lord.

How Did I Get Here? said...

Based on the name of the blog, it's Capt Grumpy's place on the interweb to rant about all things Bend, Oregon that suck. Which brings me back to the point...what's some guy in Salem doing giving a F@ck? I mean, you live in the valley and you're wondering why it rains so much?...seriously? It's the PNW folks, we're not known for trade winds and banana plants.

I always chuckle when someone puffs out their chest about how long they've been in've got 7 years on me more, no less. I've lived in some of the harshest places in Oregon and I'm still digging it after 23 years. While you two sit around and bitch about how cold and crappy PNW weather is. To top it off, CG often states..."I was willing to deal with the weather until everyone else showed up". WTF is that? "I was willing to stuff dollars into the g-strings of these nasty looking strippers until the club got packed...but now this place just sucks" That's a weird angle for sure..."I loved Bend and it's crappy weather until everyone else got here". There's more to that story but whatever.

It's been a looong winter but this was the long term forecast posted in October 2010...and as usual, our state climatologists were pretty much spot on.

I do wish CG a soft landing in a warmer place. Life is too short to be stuck somewhere that ain't working for you. Kauai is on about a nice warm place to land. No people, no hassles, snorkel gear in the trunk, longboard on top, umbrella drink in hand...even I can get down with that action...and I do.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"'I was willing to deal with the weather until everyone else showed up'. WTF is that?"

That's a distortion of what I've said. What I've said is that I was willing to put up with the Bend climate in exchange for the small-town charm and ambiance. That's gone now, killed not just by growth per se but by ugly, poorly planned growth. The place has turned into San Jose del Norte.

Also, although I don't have empirical data to back me up, I'm convinced the climate has gotten worse over the past 10 years or so. I don't remember the winters in the 1980s and '90s dragging on for eight or nine months. Other people who have lived in Bend for 20 or 30 years agree with me.

"I do wish CG a soft landing in a warmer place. Life is too short to be stuck somewhere that ain't working for you."

Ditto that. And thanks.

How Did I Get Here? said...

"That's gone now, killed not just by growth per se but by ugly, poorly planned growth. The place has turned into San Jose del Norte."

Can't argue with that. I love it here but no doubt we have some "special" issues. Late 80's, early 90's Bend was a much cooler place. Crusty back then, not too many 911s on the street. That said, I've thought about the next move but I can't find a better answer for what I need.

Marshall_Will said...

Sorry, but when you're grasping for strip club 'analogies' ( you've lost an argument entirely? )

Having an area over run with ( as Blackdog notes ) "real estate hustlers" isn't quite the same thing. In order to "ply their trade" they had to manipulate ( distort and EXTORT ) local city councils. This was well documented in the BendHousingBubbleBlog.

Again, with apologies in advance, when home prices have QUADRUPLED over a ten year period, and then pull back maybe 30% I don't exactly consider that being "on sale". Please feel free to burn -your- money, not MINE.

Being retired, on fixed-income, and forking over for Property Taxes derived from hyper-inflated, whimsical real estate values is a fool's errand. Bravado seems to be your strong suit.

Some simple MATH seems in order? When you've lost 50% of your original equity in an investment, you now need a *100%* Return just to "break even". Take that FWIW.

When some of the loudest complaining is coming from THE NATIVES kind of renders your chest puffing comment irrelevant. Talk to those who make their living off the land and you'll get perhaps an appreciation as for just how much OUR weather has changed.

Almost wearily I can only offer for the 39th time, be it "in the valley" ( Klamath Falls -just- got Spring ) or in BEND.., had the weather BEEN this way in the 70's/80's, we'd have simply never planted ROOTS here!? What part of that aren't you guys getting?

H. Bruce Miller said...

The Weather Service guys announced yesterday that this was the wettest spring Oregon has had in 116 years. That kind of knocks the wind out of the argument that, "Well, Oregon is wet, so you oughta expect sucky weather." Sucky, yes -- but not THAT sucky.

Marshall_Will said...

"The Weather Service guys announced yesterday that this was the wettest spring Oregon has had in 116 years."

I keep thinking back to the all the guys that refused to acknowledge there just... 'might' be a bubble because all the rear-looking data seemed to 'support' further price appreciation!

The same people in 2005 thought home prices would do nothing but continue to escalate! Raging Bulls kept demanding to see empirical DATA to support 'our' claims!?

The REGIONAL weather/Bend cheerleaders have remained true to the role. Not -until- a trend has become undeniably and glaringly apparent are they willing to listen. Well it's too late. The entire -region- is under the clutches of the PDO and there isn't a damn thing we can DO about it.

So now, we have the Suckiest Spring in well over a CENTURY? Remember, most Bulls thought March 10th 2000 was "just a down day in the market". Nothing more.

You have to ask yourself, even barring a National housing bubble, and even had prices held fairly stable elsewhere.., would people STILL be flocking to Central Oregon knowing full well locals considered April, May and JUNE "write off months"?

Builders, dreamers and SCHEMERS had no interest in acknowledging our new weather-reality. And no amount of macho "digging it" and willingness to Suck.It.Up is going to change that.

How Did I Get Here? said...

The Weather Service guys announced yesterday that this was the wettest spring Oregon has had in 116 years. That kind of knocks the wind out of the argument that, "Well, Oregon is wet, so you oughta expect sucky weather." Sucky, yes -- but not THAT sucky.

But that's just it, it's been a super wet spring on top of a record setting winter but you guys act as though this is the norm. It's cold all winter, no doubt about it but there is a big difference between Salem weather and ours. I've lived on and around Mt. Hood and you'd slit you wrists if you think a typical Bend winter sux.

Anywho, right no likey the winters here but others do. I can live with that. I've been hearing HBM's take on the weather since what, 06?...That's when I found BB2 at least.

Other than dissing my stripper analogy, are you talking to me with that "duh, did you know" rant about Bend RE? I'm not one that needs educating on Central Oregon political or RE issues...I'm well aware of the disaster we've got on our hands. Doesn't make it sux though...

Cached copy of one of the comments section of BB2 from 2008.

Marshall_Will said...

( More fallout from the PDO )

“We’ve got a cherry grower coming out of the Maryhill area in Southern Washington and they don’t have any fruit yet, they’re almost exactly three weeks delayed,” said Jaret Foster with the Portland Farmers Market.

“We thought last year was as bad a year as far as our late berries coming in, but this year’s even worse,” said Heather Butterwegge with Unger Farms. “We’re set back a couple of weeks.”

But of course it's just the grumpy people here doing all the complaining.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"I've lived on and around Mt. Hood and you'd slit you wrists if you think a typical Bend winter sux."

Again, you're reading me wrong. My bitch is not that the Bend winters are particularly harsh (they're not, most years) but that THEY DRAG ON SO GODDAMN LONG, into the middle of June. I've lived in other places that had cold, snowy winters, but there the winter was pretty much over by April. Eight months of winter every year just gets old after a while.

Marshall_Will said...

"Cached copy of one of the comments section of BB2 from 2008."

That's great but by 2008 The Bust had already become common knowledge. I actually started blogging the bubble dating back to 2003 and make my case that 1997 is the year RE took off and didn't look back. The Case-Shiller charts are pretty clear on that.

Further, the Housing BUST has made the whole -country- suck. Hardly 'just' Bend. From inception, Blackdog's *purpose* for this blog was to counterweight the "300 Days a Year Of Sunshine!" touted by, ahem, real estate hustlers".

Let's try 'this'. A buyer does his homework on an area he thinks will be suited for his/her lifestyle. For their love of skiing, ice skating and dog-sleding they move to... Bend, OR.

Wanting to do it right, and knowing this is the last home they'll ever buy, they shoot the works and get the most expensive home they can find! But after a few decent years, snows disappear more quickly in Spring. Summers drag on forever!

Before you KNOW IT.., there's but a few precious weeks where it ISN'T in the 70's or even 80's! Now you're stuck w/ this huge house you can't sell for HALF of what you paid for it and everyone around you continues to tout the great winters the area is known for!

Blackdog likes to say "Well, if the PDO is going to suck throughOUT the PNW ( it'll suck a little more in Bend! )" I won't disagree but I think that will apply to virtually ALL places in the West/PNW where higher ELEVATIONS are involved!

Right now I won't even -consider- a property over 2,000 ft. Period. I think you're just asking for trouble.., well, disappointment anyway.