Founded even before Bend was incorporated, the Bend Bulletin [LCCN: sn96088235] would chronicle the town's steady growth from a modest hamlet with only a saw mill, irrigation office, and a few scattered houses, to the de facto metropolis of Central Oregon. Run off a hand press housed in a log schoolhouse, the first issue appeared March 27, 1903. The founder of the paper, Max Lueddemann, never actually lived in Bend. A successful Portland businessman, he set up shop in the town because it was the center of an emerging homestead and timber region, and he correctly intuited that the publication of land notices would provide a steady income. Lueddemann had already refined this business model by establishing papers in the little Oregon towns of Shaniko and Antelope.
In the early days, the Bulletin was a four-page, five-column weekly, with half the content ready-print and sent in from Portland. Coverage of local news was initially scarce, and it would be several months before the first county correspondence saw print. In 1904 the Bulletin was consolidated with its one local competitor, the Deschutes Echo [LCCN: sn96088231].
The biggest local-interest news story from the Bulletin’s early years was announced in a May 10th, 1915 extra edition and subsequently given full coverage in the regular weekly issue of Wednesday, May 12th. The Shevlin-Hixon Company had selected Bend for the site of their new sawmill, a major operation that was expected to process 80 million board feet per year and employ at least 500 people. This was popularly viewed as the economic boon that would secure Bend’s future. A spontaneous celebration erupted in town, with businesses shuttered for the day, a band concert, speeches by local dignitaries and a parade of 45 automobiles down Main Street. "We’re all partners in this," the Bulletin editorialized. "Bend’s prophecy [is] about to be fulfilled." Even so, the paper also acknowledged that there might be a downside to the rapid economic development of the town. "With Bend’s growth there will come countless opportunities for local strife. Without doubt the minor internal difficulties of the past will be magnified…"
The Bend Bulletin also played a key role in campaigning for the creation of Deschutes County, which was organized from the western half of Crook County in 1916. That same year, the paper began issuing a daily edition. In 1921, color comic pages were introduced on Saturdays. In 1963 the title was shortened to The Bulletin [LCCN: sn96088244], the name by which it continues to be published to the present day.
-- Written by Jason Stone