Historic Hood River
The Rajneesh Times
Here’s another newspaper title in the museum collection, The Rajneesh Times. from the 1980s. As anyone who was here during the 1980s would recall, in 1981 the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers established a commune at “Rancho Rajneesh” in Wasco County, outside of Antelope. I won’t attempt to recount this complicated history which has been the subject of numerous books, articles, and documentaries, but those who were here during that era never fail to have an interesting personal anecdote to share– so share away!
This issue of the newspaper highlights a key aspect of the events and controversy surrounding the commune which I did not fully appreciate at the time: how the commune and Oregon’s new experiment in land use management came head-to-head through a series of court cases which contributed to the demise of Rajneeshpuram. At almost the same time as the Rajneeshees were purchasing land and setting up the commune, the Oregon legislature adopted sweeping new land use regulations which curtailed urbanization of rural lands, especially resource lands like farms and forests. This created major hurdles to establishing a city on ranch land in close proximity to another city. Articles on this front page mention the lawsuit against the attempted incorporation of Rajneeshpuram, as well as the interest of commune members to participate in Wasco County and Antelope city government.
This hour-long OPB documentary is an excellent primer on this history. Of course if you have 6 or 7 hours free, you can watch the more recent Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country.
Tags: 1980s, Antelope, newspaper, Rajneesh Times, Rajneeshpuram, Wasco County
As a kid, I stayed at this ranch when it was a ranch, owned by a ranching family. It was my first experience on the east side of the mountains. I will never forget waking up to the sound of quail and the smell of Juniper.
I remember interviewing Ma Anand Sheela in 1981 on KIHR's morning talk show. Little did I know I was interviewing someone who would go on to be convicted in Oregon's first and only bio-terror attack.
When we think the world is the strangest it's ever been, we simply need to look in our past to realize it's ALWAYS been a pretty strange.
When I first saw this I wondered why Ken Jerstedt subscribed. Another label indicates he was State Senator at the time. I suspect that earned him a subscription whether he wanted it or not. Apparently he thought to send his copies down to the museum, where they still reside today.
My wife went to a continuing legal education seminar a few years ago (just after Wild Wild Country) and there was a woman presenter who was still suffering horrible life long effects from the salmonella poisoning. “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”
I always wondered how the sannyasins survived when the commune suddenly collapsed as followers were to give all their earthly wealth over to the guru.
Yes Will. There were several members of my community who suffered from the salmonella poisoning. One of them severely for the rest of his life.