Eugene's nearest neighbor is Springfield Oregon. The two cities are separated only by Interstate-5. Known affectionately (with tongue in cheek) as the "home of the Simpsons" (Matt Groening was born 100 miles north, in Portland), Springfield was named for a natural spring located within the current city limits. In 2006, the city included a pleasant-sized population of 52,864. Due of their proximity, Eugene and Springfield complement each other in a variety of ways. What one city may not have, the other surely will.
Once a mill town, Springfield spent years trying to survive economically when their logging "boom" ended. Since the 1990's, a revitalized Springfield has successfully developed a diversified economy, sometimes attracting businesses away from its bigger neighbor. One such score for Springfield, (soon to be its largest employer) is Peace Health, who is currently completing RiverBend Hospital Campus at the northern side of the city. The hospital is expected to be a comprehensive regional medical center with Level II trauma center. Other recent additions to Springfield's growing economy include two call center facilities: Symantec Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. A long-time business resident of the city is Springfield Creamery, makers of the fabulous Nancy's Yogurt. Nancy happens to be the sister-in-law of the late author, Ken Kesey, who graduated from Springfield High School and lived most of his life nearby in Pleasant Hill. Also located in Springfield is a Kingsford briquet-making facility.
As well as Gateway Mall along I-5, Springfield has a variety of shopping venues throughout the city. From quaint Red Barn Plant Nursery to the all-encompassing Jerry's Home Improvement Center, local businesses amply provide for the community. The historic downtown is a delightful and bustling area of unique local merchants who offer great dining, furniture, antiques and collectables, jewelry and several art galleries. Downtown is also home to the Springfield Museum and Museum Store, the Historic Springfield Interpretive Center and the new Richard E. Wildish Community Theater.
The McKenzie River runs through Springfield along the town's northern edge. The river is one of the state's most beautiful Wild and Scenic rivers. Beginning high in the Cascade Mountain Range, the McKenzie is guided by rapids and waterfalls, as it makes its way toward the valley, and eventually terminates at the Willamette River, just west of Springfield. A popular tourist destination, the river contains stocked and native trout, is host to several well maintained campgrounds, is bordered by woodland trails, is ideal for rafting, and is home to a abundant number of native species of plant and animal life.