Since the 1920's, Oakridge, Ore., had been recognized as the heart of the surrounding timber empire. That ended by 1992 when the community’s two sawmills -- and principal employers -- closed down.
The town’s real estate market collapsed and some town leaders unsuccessfully sought other opportunities in the small, remote community surrounded by national forests.
Bicycle enthusiasts, however, saw potential mountain biking opportunities in the nearby abandoned logging roads and fire trails. Enthusiasts won a planning grant from the National Park Service and mobilized a volunteer crew to prepare trails for biking. That group became known by its acronym as the GOATS, which stands for Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards.
Each summer the community attracted more summer mountain bikers. Residents opened satellite businesses, including a bike repair shop and a guide company.
One resident observed, “The biggest thing mountain biking has done is change the way people look at Oakridge, from timber town to the mountain bike capital of the Northwest. People went from questioning why anybody would live in Oakridge to saying what a cool place this is.”
Source: Paulson, Dashell. “All Falls Down.” Ethos summer 2014. Print.