Bend's Historic Beautiful Couple: George Palmer Putnam and Amelia Earhart

Did you know Amelia Earhart's husband lived in Bend?

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Hollywood's hype machine is currently running on high touting Amelia the upcoming biopic on the life of famed 1930s aviatrix Amelia Earhart. From interviews with actress Hilary Swank, who plays Earhart, it's clear the film tries to be true to Earhart's rise to fame and eventual disappearance over the Pacific on her 1937 around the world flight.
That sounds perfect especially if the fimmakers included Earhart's Bend connection via her husband George Palmer Putnam whom she married in 1931.
The heir to the G.P Putnam and Sons publishing empire, patrician New Yorker Putnam was a 23-year-old public relations flack in New York City when he read about the on-going battle between railroad barons James J, Hill and Edward H. Harriman to build a rail line from the Columbia River to Bend. To the winner of that battle would go the spoils of shipping timber to markets in the Midwest and East.
Fascinated with the battle, Putnam headed west arriving in Bend in 1910. Within days, he’d signed on to cover the railroad wars for The Oregonian.
Shortly thereafter, he started working for the Bend Bulletin and within months bought a half interest in the paper. He would later become Bend's mayor at 25. Local wisdom at the time was that since Putnam was smart enough to have graduated from Harvard, he was smart enough to be mayor no matter his age.
As Mayor he approved the laying of Bend's first sewer lines. As majority owner of The Bulletin, he turned it from a weekly into a daily paper.
Putnam's marriage to Earhart was a much publicized event, and according to books on her life was, a very modern "open" marriage. Open or not, Putnam was a big supporter of Earhart’s career and a major financial backer of her various flights leading up to her final flight in 1937.
As to their life in Bend, Putnam and Earhart set up residence at 606 NW Congress Street. The house still stands.
Now as far as I know, no film crews were seen filming along Congress Street during the past couple of years, so perhaps there will be zero about Earhart's Bend life in the new movie. That noted, perhaps there will be some mention of the town and the Putnam connection which will give rise to more discussion of him as well. In his own right, Putnam was as fascinating a character, albeit not as famous as his wife.


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