No this isn't a post about Taco Time, nor is it really about food. It's about the largest bioterrorism attack against America, ever. The attack could be viewed as a political threat or even as religious extremism. Did I mention that this story includes a cult in the 1980s, The Dalles, Oregon, and a Taco Time Salsa Bar? Cause it does.
When investigating a bioterrorism attack in The Dalles it's important to walk around downtown in 100° weather. It was hot the day Megan and I came to The Dalles. Really hot. All the pavement downtown only added to the heat. It was like being in Arizona, but without all the racism.
Downtown The Dalles is not unlike most small town's once thriving economic centers. FIlled with shops and theaters that have seen busier days there is a certain overall charm that exudes from signs of run-down businesses though.
Not every storefront in downtown is empty. Google recently built a data center just outside of The Dalles, which has allowed several business and restaurants to stay in business. Many of which are quite nice! There's even a hipster-looking metal shop located in the heart of downtown.
Because it was too damn hot to walk around or even to do some metal working we decided to get out of the heat and head to a local bar. It was packed with locals, but having AC is a people magnet when it's 100+ outside.
I had an imperial IPA from LaurelWood and Megan had a blackberry mojito which you can see above, slowly being turned into an empty glass. The jalapeno artichoke dip we split was above average for most bars.
Apparently The Dalles runs on a pun based economy.
Yeah, that last one isn't a pun, but it's still funny.
The past is always present with you when you're walking around The Dalles. There's historic buildings everywhere from the old Wasco County Courthouse (now a brewery!) to St. Peter's Landmark.
Yes, they were open on a Saturday.
The old Elks lodge is only in this post, because it's a cool old building. I mean look at it! Now abandoned, I imagine it once filled with old men drinking. Or something like this. Speaking of secret organizations trying to take over the world, it brings us back to the topic of this post.
Yes, the Taco Time (among other restaurants, which include Burgerville) in The Dalles, Oregon is the location of the biggest bioterrorism attack against america. Back in 1984 The followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh poisoned over 750 citizens in an ill attempt to gain political control in the area. Luckily no one died from the poisoning, but a few were seriously sick enough to be hospitalized.
After gaining political clout in Antelope, Oregon, which is like being prom king. You don't have any real political power and in five years no one is going to remember you. So they went after bigger fish, that being literally any other political office. Specifically they went after two out of three seats on the Wasco County Circuit Court. Hold on, this is where it gets batshit.
These cultists as commanded by their leader who drove around in a Rolls Royce. (No, that's not another Simpsons reference.) Poured a mysterious brown liquid into the salsa bar at the local Taco Time. In addition to Taco Time the cult targeted a few other restaurants in town including BurgerVille. They used fear and poison to gain power. For someone who preached love and spoke out against political corruption. This was by far the worst way go about things. But that didn't stop them from causing over 750 people to contract Salmonellosis from their contaminations.
Oh it gets weirder.
After the Rajneeshee poisoned over 750 people and instilled fear into thousands, their political ploy didn't even work. As it turned out that over a third of the cult couldn't even vote in the election, because they weren't American citizens!
After a federal investigation and the arrest of several Rajneeshee officers, needless to say the camp wasn't in operation much longer.
Of course all this was back in the 80s. All these establishments are fine to eat at now. And maybe a future Oregon Food Adventure post will feature an adventure to the old cult camp!
All these wonderful pictures taken by the wonderful Megan Ashley Hawley!
Bonus picture of a dude dressed up as an ol' prospector!