“Dry farmers” homesteaded portions of southeastern Oregon after 1900 and ranchers benefited from World War I’s demand for beef and wool. In the 1920s, dams impounded water for irrigation and railroad connections brought large-scale logging to the forests and sawmills to Burns and Lakeview. The Depression of the 1930s devastated the region’s economy. Federal assistance lessened the sting and set the stage for later trends. The region remained largely an ethnically homogeneous area, most of its residents tracing their ancestry to Western Europe.
Dry-Farm Homesteading: Boom and Failure, 1905-1920:
The coming of transcontinental railroad lines to the Pacific Northwest brought a new wave of settlers to much of the region, even to isolated southeastern Oregon.
Lumber Mills and Irrigation Dams: Big Dreams, Big Doings in the 1920s:
The 1920s brought a new prosperity to southeastern Oregon fueled largely by new federal land policies and the infusion of outside capital.
The Great Depression: Hard Times of the 1930s:
While private capital evaporated entirely in southeastern Oregon with the onset of the Depression, the federal government stayed on and grew into an ever-more important factor in the Oregon high desert’s economy.