Oakridge

Oakridge, OR

In 1961 – the year he graduated high school – Floyd Staley missed his senior all-night party. Instead, he woke up at 3:30am to meet his ride near Cougar Reservoir, which would take him into the woods for a week of logging for Timber Cutters Inc. at $2 per hour. He proceeded to work 28 years at the Pope and Talbott sawmill just outside Oakridge, meanwhile raising his family, investing in property, and building a life. In 1988, Pope and Talbott responded to outcries over the endangered spotted owl by logging the last of its private timber and shutting down the mill. Today, Staley's drives past the old site, where the mill was burned and scrapped, are ensconced in memories of early mornings, sawdust and the hustle and bustle of a thriving industry. Retired now, he recycles scrap metal as a hobby for a small income.

Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades draws mountain bikers, skiers and hikers through the town – the last stop on Highway 58 before Bend.During fire season, if the town gets lucky, the forests' flames draw crowds of firefighters to the town, resulting in a temporary economic boost. However, this is not enough to sustain the town year-round, and most of the younger generation has moved away to establish careers elsewhere. Those who remain have established a hardworking lifestyle and tight-knit community built to endure.