On August 21, the moon's orbit will bring it directly between the Earth and the sun, creating a total solar eclipse in the United States for the first time since 1979. One of the first towns perfectly positioned for the most dramatic view is Keizer, Oregon. Resident Matt Rasmussen is one of many people living along the eclipse’s “path of totality” looking to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—and not just to take in the sights.
Rasmussen said a friend living in nearby Portland, which will only see a relatively mundane partial eclipse, casually suggested he try to rent out his house for the weekend of the eclipse. “She said we should post on Airbnb because she bet we could get a mortgage payment out of it,” he says. “I laughed, and randomly set up our house at what we thought was a large amount, never expecting to have a taker. We were booked within two days.”
Rasmussen charged $2,000 for a single night, as much as 10 times the typical price, which he guesses would be around $200 or $300. Other Oregonians contacted through Airbnb’s messaging system for this article tell similar stories.
The eclipse has been a hot topic along its path for months, with preparations taking many forms. California is prepping its solar-heavy power grid to deal with the temporary drop in sunlight. School districts situated on the eclipse path in Illinois and Missouri are canceling class on August 21. Kentucky officials are stocking up on a drug to treat heroin overdoses, and NASA is readying a raft of science experiments. In Oregon, as with other states on the eclipse’s cross-country path, government officials and locals are preparing for the swarm of visitors to these otherwise quiet, out-of-the-way towns. Residents have been told to prepare for power outages, cell-tower failures, internet-service outages, and other headaches. Gridlock figures to be a problem on roads across Oregon, straining emergency services.