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Culture » Book Talk

Book Review

"Legendary Locals of Bend"



"Legendary Locals of Bend" is filled to the brim with some amazing history. Every page focuses on a different person that shaped the community of Bend in ways subtle or massive. Many of these stories come as a complete surprise. The book was compiled by Les Joslin, past president of the Board of Directors of the Deschutes County Historical Society and a fellow of the High Desert Museum.

Tom Carlton, Bend's first fire chief

In 1905, Bend's first major fire took out O'Kane's Saloon on the corner of Bond and Oregon Streets. Volunteers fought the blaze with wet blankets, saving the rest of downtown. Later that year, Bend got its first fire hydrants, but it wasn't until 1919 and the arrival of Tom Carlton that the city council formed the Bend Fire Department. He remained the fire chief from 1919 until he died in 1943. Under his leadership, Bend's fire department became a modern one with motorized fire apparatuses and an American LaFrance Pumper.

Klondike Kate

Born in 1876, Kate Rockwell (pictured above) grew up in Spokane in an affluent family before being sent to boarding school. Once expelled, she moved to New York City with her mother. The young vaudeville starlet then moved to the Yukon, dancing on stage for the miners as a member of the Savoy Theatrical Company, where she was dubbed Klondike Kate. She homesteaded in Brothers, Ore., in 1914, then sold her claim and built a house on Franklin Avenue in Bend, where she provided stew and coffee to "Gentlemen of the Road," while also bringing doughnuts to the Bend Fire Department.

Hugh O'Kane, developer

Born in Ireland in 1853, by the time he was 12 he had stowed away on a ship and was selling newspapers in NYC. In 1903 he moved to Bend where he built and operated the Bend Hotel until it burned down in 1915. In the same place, he built the O'Kane Building, which was then the largest retail space downtown with six stores, 20 offices and a movie theater. He was known to regale customers with his tales of adventure until he eventually moved to Portland and passed away in 1930. In 2016, the O'Kane Building is still standing and considered by some to be very haunted.

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