This week, our exploration of outlying cities in Central Oregon brings the focus to La Pine. Real estate is booming in Bend, which is being reflected in higher home sales prices and a growing population, prompting longtime locals and newcomers to seek reprieve in the surrounding towns. The appeal of La Pine is quite simple; lower home prices, a slower pace of life, decreased population density and a slew of easily accessible outdoor activities.
Homesteading in La Pine was a draw for many during the early 1900s. Now, affordable housing opportunities have many homebuyers taking notice of La Pine. Home prices have been increasing throughout the local area, but La Pine still offers nice homes, often on larger lots at reasonable, affordable prices. Last month the median sales price of a single-family home in La Pine was $325,000, with a total of 12 homes sold. For comparison, in Bend, the single family home median sale price was $524,000, with 207 homes sold. Redmond saw 89 total home sales at a median price of $375,000. Currently, there is a brand new two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,312-square-foot home in La Pine offered at $314,900.
Geographically, La Pine is nestled in the vast pine forests 30 miles south of Bend at an elevation of 4,235 feet, making it the highest city in Central Oregon. Close proximity to 2.5 million acres of forest land, mountains, six rivers and over 100 high Cascade lakes provides endless outdoor recreation opportunities, drawing adventurers and residents alike.
Native Americans occupied this area for over 13,000 years, primarily coming during the spring and summer months after the winter thaws, living in harmony with the earth and thriving on the rich natural resources which provided an abundance of foraging, hunting and fishing. Trails and trade routes spread throughout the area between the Klamath and Columbia River Basins. Groups would gather from Northern California, southern Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the Newberry Caldera along the shores of Paulina and East lakes to collect obsidian, craft tools, participate in social events, compete in games and trade.
Settlers, explorers and fur traders pushed into the region in the 1800s as the U.S. expanded west. The Huntington Wagon Road was built in 1876, mainly following Native American trails, making it easier to bring supplies from The Dalles to Fort Klamath, in turn prompting further growth to the area.
In 1911 the population of La Pine was 600 and the primary industries were logging, lumber mills, ranching and dairy farms. La Pine began next to a smaller town called Rosland, which was absorbed into La Pine as it grew. Now the estimated population is closer to 2,000 people, with close to 20,000 living in close surrounding areas. Remaining an unincorporated town in Oregon until 2006, La Pine is technically the state's youngest city and an excellent alternative city within Central Oregon to call "home."