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As It Was

Oregon Timber Town Welcomes Mountain Bikers

Since the 1920's, Oakridge, Ore., had been recognized as the heart of the surrounding timber empire.  That ended by 1992 when the community’s two sawmills -- and principal employers -- closed down.

The town’s real estate market collapsed and some town leaders unsuccessfully sought other opportunities in the small, remote community surrounded by national forests.

Bicycle enthusiasts, however, saw potential mountain biking opportunities in the nearby abandoned logging roads and fire trails.  Enthusiasts won a planning grant from the National Park Service and mobilized a volunteer crew to prepare trails for biking. That group became known by its acronym as the GOATS, which stands for Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards.  

Each summer the community attracted more summer mountain bikers.  Residents opened satellite businesses, including a bike repair shop and a guide company.

One resident observed, “The biggest thing mountain biking has done is change the way people look at Oakridge, from timber town to the mountain bike capital of the Northwest.  People went from questioning why anybody would live in Oakridge to saying what a cool place this is.”

 

Source:  Paulson, Dashell. “All Falls Down.” Ethos summer 2014. Print.

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Dr. James S. Long was an As It Was contributor until his passing in January of 2016. He met editor Kernan Turner when Kernan spoke to the Roseburg writers’ club about contributing to JPR's As Is Was series. His contributions to As It Was ranged from a story about the recovery of whitetail deer at the old Dunning Ranch to the story of Nick Botner’s private orchard near Yoncalla created to preserve over 3,000 heritage apple varieties.