The town of Antelope currently boasts only around 50 people, but back in the 1980s, it was a different story.
A cult, run by a spiritual leader and riddled with criminal conduct, once established a community of up to 7,000 people there.
Today, one of the cult’s old buildings is on the market and ready for a new purpose.
When the 3,000 sq. ft. structure was built in 1898, beginnings were humble.
“That was built by the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and that was a fraternal organization that was social as well as financial,” said John Gill, a real estate broker with Land and Wildlife.
“And then when it kind of dissipated, it was used as an area for local ranchers and mining people to kind of come and convene here.”
But things got interesting in the 1980s when a cult run by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh rolled into town.
“They bought the Big Muddy Ranch, which was 64,000 acres which isn’t too far from here, and then a lot of the members started showing up and they started taking over the city council,” Gill said.
“They renamed the town Rajneesh, and they were trying to get a hold of Wasco County even.
“Apparently, they used this as an office and a printing house for the Rajneesh Times.”
Crimson-clad followers known as “Rajneeshees” followed their leader in what he called “dynamic meditation”, which he claimed would lead them to spiritual enlightenment.
They committed a slew of crimes to achieve their political ends, including mass poisoning, arson, and multiple assassination plots.
“They bussed in people to vote to try and get some of their people on the Board of Commissioners, is my understanding,” Gill said. “The locals weren’t too happy about that.”
The cult collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh was arrested for immigration fraud.
Now, the building where they printed their newspaper is up for auction by current owners Cody Flecker and Barbara Beasley.
“They’ve had it since 1995 and they’ve done some improvements over the years and they also ran it as a museum for a while, and you see they have some stuff here about the town of Antelope,” Gill said.
The auction deadline for the property at 45380 Main St. is December 8th at 5 p.m. with a reserve number of $258,500.
The High Desert Museum will open a display called “Imagine the World” with items from the building’s Rajneesh era starting in January and running through October.