Our day in Antelope Oregon was totally unplanned. In fact, you could say we got hijacked from Shaniko by a hippie named Ziggy and his side-kick, a basset hound Trixie. Ziggy helped tour us around Shaniko and then lured us to Antelope with a promise of great photography and a chance to meet the mayor. (He didn’t tell us until later that he's married to the mayor, Jill :)
This little town flourished in the 1860s as a mining supply center on SH 218. By the 1870s it had grown to where it needed a post office. The post office was established in 1871, with Howard Maupin, founder of Maupin, Oregon, as the first postmaster.
The original town burned to the ground in the winter of 1894, only one original building was left standing. The town was rebuilt 1/2 mile west to connect with the road to Shaniko and Cross Hollow. The growth and prosperity of Shaniko was the doom of both Antelope and Cross Hollow.
In the 1980s Antelope Oregon had a massive resurgence of population when followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who had settled on the nearby "Big Muddy Ranch” and started the city of Rajneeshpuram, began to move into the town proper and buy it up.
The charter for Antelope Oregon was amended on September 18, 1984, by a vote of 57 to 22 to change the name of the city to Rajneesh.
Not long after, Rajneesh, who was indicted on federal immigration charges, tried to flee the country, but ended up pleading no contest to two of the 34 charges against him and then returned to India. It wasn’t quite over though. Members of the Oregon commune were arrested for more crimes, including a bioterrorist attack. Citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, were deliberately subjected to a salmonella food poisoning attack in order to influence the outcome of a local election.
On November 6, 1985, the remaining residents voted 34 to 0 to restore the original name, which was never actually changed by the Postal Service in the first place.
The Rajneesh built some interesting buildings including a crematorium that was shaped like a saucer, kind of like the Seattle Space Needle. It’s gone now, which it too bad. I would have LOVED to photograph that! The main house that the grand pooh-bah lived in burned down too. Rats.
This is the Antelope Oregon old schoolhouse.
We, courtesy of Ziggy, got to go into the old school, which was sort of like falling into a time machine. There are no children living in Antelope. The merry-go-round sits in the schoolyard in disrepair, the squeals of whirling children still echoing around it.
This is another of the three basset hounds that Ziggy and Jill support. He was miffed that he got left outside while everyone went in. Here I played around a little with a color pop.
Now the schoolhouse is used for the Home Extension program and Antelope, Oregon city council meetings. The basement is being refurbished to house the new city hall.
After we came out of the schoolhouse a few others drifted over, including Don Fischer, the local photographer. I had seen some of his work on the walls if the schoolhouse and was excited to get to meet him. He’s a top-notch photographer in both black and white and color. His dog photography is superb.
Don also takes care of stuff around town and painted these buildings.
I asked him about them on our Photograph Oregon Facebook and he said “There is still a hose cart in that one plus a bunch of stuff in storage. The hose cart was simply a cart that pulled around fire hose. The bell next to it was the city fire bell. I just re-painted both of them A year or so ago. The other is where we store the city lawn mower. Next time your out here remind me and I think I can get it open for you. I have the key's to most everything in town.” (Because they are just that cool in Antelope.)
We all stood around and chatted for quite a while watching the deer, who’ve overrun the town, jump from yard to yard. In this image the deer at the top of the fence caught her foot and flipped over onto her back. The whole herd went….”OOOF” when she hit the ground. It was pretty funny! (She was fine. She got up and looked back like….what?)
We spent the whole second half of the day in Antelope Oregon and I can say it was really worth the trip. I learned a lot, got some awesome photos and we had an adventure.