Oakridge is a city in Lane County, Oregon, United States. Take a look below for 20 fascinating and amazing facts about Oakridge, Oregon, United States.
1. The population was 3,205 as of the 2010 census.
2. It is located east of Westfir on Oregon Route 58, about 40 miles (64 km) east of Eugene and 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Portland.
3. Surrounded by the Willamette National Forest and the Cascade Range, Oakridge is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for its hiking, mountain biking, wildflowers, fly fishing, birding, watersports, and the nearby Willamette Pass Resort.
4. The city was originally a community called “Hazeldell”, and its post office was established on July 26, 1888.
5. When a station on the Southern Pacific Railroad opened in May 1912, it was named “Oak Ridge” by a railroad executive for the surrounding topography, and on July 19 of that year the name was changed to be spelled as a single word.
6. The economy of Oakridge and nearby Westfir is centered on recreation.
7. In the 20th century, there were two sawmills that processed logs from nearby timberland—an Oakridge mill owned by the Pope and Talbot Lumber Company and an Edward Hines mill in Westfir.
8. Both of the mills had closed by 1985. Since then the economy has been transitioning, with a new general store opening in 2010, a bakery in 2011, and a brewery and mercantile.
9. The area now known as Oakridge was first explored in 1852 as a possible route for pioneers coming from Central Oregon to the Willamette Valley.
10. A post office was named “Hazeldell” in 1888, and the place’s name later changed to “Big Prairie”, and then “Oak Ridge”.
11. In 1912, a new community was formed and officially named Oakridge.
12. Since its beginnings as a mountain ranch, Oakridge has been a railroad boomtown, a lumberjacks’ haven, and an outdoor enthusiast’s destination.
13. The early boom for Oakridge can be attributed to the Southern Pacific Railroad.
14. By 1910, work had already begun on Tunnel 22, a short route connecting Oakridge to the area now known as Westfir.
15. Oakridge was a station on Southern Pacific’s Cascade subdivision, a line that goes over Willamette Pass via the Natron Cutoff that was built in 1926, and the railroad played an integral part of the economy and lifestyle in Oakridge.
16. The Union Pacific Railroad still operates the rails and trains are a common sight in Oakridge. Today, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight passes through the town but does not stop.
17. On July 2, 1946, the Pope and Talbot Lumber Company purchased timberland near Oakridge. By 1948, the company had built a large sawmill and had begun a massive timber logging operation. While the railroad and Westfir’s Hines sawmill began to slow down, the Pope and Talbot mill expanded and eventually employed more than 500 people.
18. The combined economic base of the railroad and sawmills accounted for the population growth of the 1960s and 1970s, when the community of Willamette City was consolidated into Oakridge. However, in 1978, the Hines mill in Westfir closed, and by 1985 the Pope and Talbot Mill had laid off all of its workers. The City of Oakridge now owns the property that formerly housed the Pope and Talbot sawmill.
19. In February 2019, an Amtrak Coast Starlight train was stranded near Oakridge for over 36 hours, after a rare heavy snowstorm.
20. Union Pacific Railroad’s main north–south line in the western two-thirds of the United States, with cargo shipping services, runs through Oakridge. Amtrak shares the rail line and provides passenger train service to nationwide destinations from Eugene.