The Last Company Town in Oregon
Gilchrist was the last lumber company town in Oregon. The town was founded in 1938 by the family-owned Gilchrist Timber Company, with Frank and Mary Gilchrist as the owners and town founders. The mill moved there from Jasper County, Mississippi, in search of lumber and lower taxes, building a dam on the Little Deschutes River to create the mill pond. In 1939, Gilchrist School was built by the Public Works Administration.
The company was sold to Crown Pacific Partners in 1991, which subsequently fired all its employees. The 120 homes and other facilities in the town were subsequently sold to residents and others in 1997, with Crown Pacific retaining the sawmill and timberland. Prior to this sale, all houses in the town were painted in Gilchrist brown (with the exception of a small area on the north end of town called Rainbow Circle by its residents). The timberland and the town’s sawmill, upgraded to handle smaller logs in 2000, were among the last remaining assets of Crown Pacific, which declared bankruptcy in 2003 and was taken over by creditors at the end of 2004, and again bought by Canadian company Interfor Pacific in 2006. As of 2009, the kindergarten through twelfth grade school had an enrollment of 238 students.