“I remember in the ‘60s when I was logging, a friend told me logging was going to be over because we were cutting on steep hillsides. For him, it was the beginning of the end.”
“My husband was a logger and loved it. He had to quit because of an injury. He knew every single trail and road up to Detroit.”
In the past, people went “up to the mills” to work, meaning the North Santiam Canyon. In the last twenty years, as the mills “up” valley have closed the commute has shifted direction to the urban area of Salem.
Factory work and manufacturing represent a major source of employment in the area today. Norpac Foods dates from the 1920s and currently processes corn, green beans, and some peas. In addition to Norpac, there are several window and mobile home manufacturing facilities in Stayton including Karsten Trailer Homes, and Philips and Summit window manufacturing. These companies draw upon the entire region for their workforce, and although a significant number of workers live in the local area, Stayton and Sublimity are not “company” towns in the traditional sense.
Tourism is not as important as in other nearby areas: “Tourism and hospitality industry impacts are very significant in the trade area [the area around Stayton, namely the North Santiam Canyon], but not of major importance in Stayton and Sublimity” (p.9, “Market Analysis and Business Development Strategy Report for the Stayton/Sublimity Trade Area”, Stayton/Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, 1995).
The largest employer currently in Sublimity is Marian Estates, a retirement facility, which citizens say does not pay its staff a family wage. Marian Estates has 3 facilities that house 375 residents. Its success reflects the growing importance of the retirement community.
The professional class is growing and depends upon commuting to the Salem metropolitan area. People also commute to Oregon City only 50 minutes away. At the same time, a number of observers pointed to the pattern of professional people, such as city hall, hospital and schools, living in Salem and commuting to Stayton. The housing, the easy commuting, and the quality of the schools attract the professional class.
A JKA Report