In the digital age one would think an internet search “how did Redmond get the name ‘hub’?” would turn up dozens, if not hundreds, of answers in under a second. Not true. If you google that or similarly “where did Redmond’s slogan ‘the hub’ originate?” you will get pages of references to Redmond being called ‘the hub’ but nothing on its origin.

Given the successful branding of Redmond as the hub you’d think that its history would be more accessible. Anybody alive today and living in Redmond has not known any other slogan for the city. It’s been the hub as it turns out before it was even incorporated over a century ago in 1910, according to Eric Sande, executive director of Redmond Chamber of Commerce.

Sande has boxes of historical records going back to the early 1900s with references to Redmond being the hub.

The Junior Chamber of Commerce begun in 1920 had a chapter in those days in Redmond. The Jaycees, as they are known, were the first to use the slogan promotionally, Sande says.

Sande said it grew around efforts by the railroad, developers and irrigation district to attract business and industry. Marketing and advertising have been around forever and Redmond’s early settlers were apparently pretty good at the game. Hub had caché.

Like today, Redmond was sitting on a desert and not exactly a prized destination for establishing commerce. So, a little embellishment was needed to entice investors. The town’s location was a natural center point for Madras, Prineville and Bend and the gravitational hub for bergs and hamlets like Powell Butte, Terrebonne, Culver, Grandview and Cloverdale.

It was ancient history — 1910 — when Redmond logged in with a population of 216. Bend was a metropolis by comparison with 536. Essentially they were equal in terms of appeal to industrialists, miners, banks and merchants seeking new markets.

In those days readers may not know that it was all Crook County until 1916, six years after Redmond’s incorporation, when divided and sited in the new Deschutes County. There was already some rivalry between the two towns. Some say that exists in friendly fashion until this day.

“When Deschutes was established and Bend was given the county seat and Redmond got Roberts Field and the fairgrounds, everybody assumed Bend got the better deal,” Sande said adding: “With the success of the airport and the fairgrounds, folks aren’t so sure now.”

The Hub brand

From its inception, Redmond has had its eyes set firmly on the future. Redmond was initially founded in 1905 in anticipation of a canal irrigation project and proposed railway line. Throughout its history the City, notwithstanding its farm and ranching legacy, has demonstrated a sense of promotion more typically found in larger or more “sophisticated” urban centers. Redmond has a rich heritage of promoters, not in the P.T. Barnum sense.

As far back as 1906 Fred Stanley, a leader in the Central Oregon Irrigation Company, founded the Redmond Potato Show. People traveled by horse and buggy for miles to try one of the 26 varieties of spuds that were central to Redmond’s commerce well into the ‘40s.

The Heart of Central OregonBeing called the hub competes to a degree with what some Redmonders still prefer — The Heart of Central Oregon, a branding effort from a prior era. Indeed, the city is endowed with appealing sculptures of designs depicting an open heart. The impressive metal and enamel piece named Open Heart sits prominently at 810 SW Rimrock. Another metal piece — Heart Spin — enhances the corner of Fifth Street and Dogwood Avenue.

Officially though, the city’s slogan and brand identity is The Hub for mostly the same reasons as in 1910. The Hub makes Redmond a place, not a thing, and not an idea such as New York’s The Big Apple or Virginia’s Virginia is for Lovers. Not just any place, however. And not just a location.

True it is still central to the aforementioned towns. Place is expanded to also mean a center for values important to it citizens town promoters say. A place for good education, public safety, economic opportunity and quality of life.

Businesses around Redmond use the word hub in their name such as The Hub Motel on NW Sixth Street. The vintage, 30-room independent lodging outfit on NW Sixth has been around since 1955 and despite its name mentions “in the heart of Oregon” in some of its promotion.

Hub City Bar & Grille on South 97 has nothing to do with Redmond being marketed as the hub. The eatery’s décor is themed on bikes, cars and guitars. In contrast, Central Oregon Adventure is a vacation rental agency with properties that include the Downtown Hub and the Adventure Hub. They use the city’s centennial logo freely in their advertising as do many other merchants trying to capitalize on the branding effort.

Citywide you can find the hub theme across a broad spectrum of organizations like the Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon on SW Seventh Street. The bus transit station on SW Kalama where Cascade East Transit has a terminus is proudly named the Redmond Hub.

It seems safe to say that the hub is not just a motto in Redmond but part of the city’s DNA.

Contact correspondent Bill Bartlett at bill.bartlett@mail.com

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