My town

Big Springs Park

A spring view of Bonanza’s Big Springs Park.

About 30 miles east of Klamath Falls there is a special little town called Bonanza. When you call the place your hometown, you’ve heard all of the Ponderosa and Cartwright jokes possible. Ironically, the current students at the Kindergarten through 12th-grade school most likely have not seen any of the old western’s programs.

That’s too bad. Many of the lessons learned from the program were also instilled in Bonanza’s children, too. Before a time of zero tolerance, we were taught to fight for what we believed to be correct, show respect to other people, animals and the land that provides for agricultural lifestyles, and to be mindful that we don’t all see the world the same way. There is also the shared strong work ethic.

It took the Cartwright boys an hour to learn a life lesson on television, but many Bonanzans in real life took longer to embrace these ideas. In fact, it took most of my seventh-grade year for Vice Principal Mike Stahl to get across to me that there are four “R”s in education. Sure there is Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, but Responsibility is the one that pulls them all together.

Thursday night, I’ll attend my first meeting of the Bonanza Revitalization Team. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to help wherever needed to bring the town more prosperity.

What does that mean? I’m not really sure today. I know I’d like us to be respectful of those who came before us and appreciate the history of a town that was a point of argument between Klamath and Lake counties. The people of Bonanza were once so rough and tumble that neither county wanted the town within its borders.

That said, Bonanza has been home to some very fine people. I’m not sure how long Mayor Betty Tyree has served Bonanza, but its an understatement to say she’s done well. Her service has been more than three decades, and those who cannot appreciate her leadership should think long and hard about what would make a better public servant.

I hope we can draw people to our town to learn about our history and accomplishments, and develop an appreciation for agriculturalists.

We have dairies, sheep and cattle ranches, farms and a winery. The climate isn’t the best for grapes, but Oregon grapes produce some fine wines for the local concern. Also, the dairy milk makes award-winning cheeses.

The town itself has a few hundred residents, but the zip code finds many people calling Bonanza home. It comprises three valleys — Yonna, Langell and Poe — which found the town called the Cloverleaf City at one time.

It seems that wherever you go there is a connection to Bonanza. I know that seems silly to say, as I still live in the zip code area, but I know world travelers who often remark on meeting someone on their journeys who have a connection back to the little town.

There’s a fun little trivia exercise around the six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. I’d be willing to bet that most people are only ever two phone calls away from Bonanza.


One thought on “My town

  1. I call it my ‘home town’…even though I wasn’t born there…moved in and out of it (not the town proper mind you) throughout my childhood…am proud to have graduated high school from its K-12 school. It’s a unique pride we have in the place. Small town for sure…with big hearts and open minds (for the most part). I never thought of it as a poor community, as most pulled together and helped each other out in times of need, and had to step back for a second when a classmate referred to it as such recently. I credit the village mentality and the ‘rugged’ individualism for my deep seated roots in reality. My appreciation for having grown up in a small town amongst ‘real’ people is immense as I raise my own kids in a community I feel is disconnected from its citizens. Having been gone from the tiny community of Bonanza 30 years now, it’s still where I’m traveling to when I say I’m going home.


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