Oregon December 01, 2017
The Mind-Boggling History Of This Oregon Commune Will Astound You
In the 1980s, rural Oregon played host to a controversial commune: The Rajneeshees. This spiritual community was at the epicenter of one of the most mind-boggling chapters of Oregon history. From bribery and coercion to the largest bioterrorism attack in U.S. history, the actions of the Rajneeshee commune in the Beaver State will never be forgotten.
Take a look:
In the 1960s, a spiritual leader by the name of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh started a new movement based on a mix of meditation and capitalist philosophy in India.
He was able to gather a large following, and by the 1980s he had tens of thousands of followers.
Once his movement had successfully grown, Rajneesh decided he wanted to build his own religious utopia. So, he purchased a 64,000 acre ranch in rural Wasco County.
It is estimated that 2,000 followers lived on the commune, which was referred to as Rajneeshpuram. In this photo from 1982, the red-clad followers are assembled to pay their respect as Rajneesh drives by.
As power struggles began to emerge with surrounding local governments, the Rajneeshees began trying to take over the political systems of the surrounding towns and the county seat of The Dalles.
The Rajneeshees managed to successfully take over the government of Antelope, a neighboring small town with a population of 50 people.
Rajneeshees moved into Antelope from the nearby commune and voted for a name change. As a result, Antelope was renamed to Rajneesh in the mid-1980s.
As tensions rose between Oregonians and the Rajneeshees, the commune hatched a plan to keep locals away from the voting polls and steal the elections.
This led to the Rajneeshees contaminating 10 different fast food restaurants in The Dalles with salmonella. 757 people became sick and several dozen were hospitalized. This was, and remains, the largest bioterrorism attack in U.S. history.
In the aftermath of the attack, several leading members from the commune were arrested. Rajneesh was deported, after which the commune quickly collapsed.
To see more from this unbelievable chapter in Oregon history, watch this video from YouTube user Atlas Obscura: VIDEO
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? Who knew that such bizarre happenings took place in Oregon?
For more Beaver State history, check out our previous article:
6 Disturbing Unsolved Mysteries In Oregon That Will Leave You Up At Night.