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Small Oregon town with prime view of solar eclipse prepares for thousands of tourists

Eclipse tourism
Eclipse tourism 02:02

MADRAS, Ore. -- The narrow roads through central Oregon are already a parking lot.

But amid the throngs of people, there's a sense of calm in Madras, Oregon. The town's clear skies have solar eclipse experts picking Madras as one of the premier viewing locations in the U.S.

"I would say it's a sleepy agricultural town," said Lysa Vattimo, who was hired two years ago as Madras' eclipse planner

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Not anymore. By the morning of the eclipse, the city's population of 6,200 could grow to as many as 200,000.

"There's a hustle and bustle and kind of excitement and anticipation," Vattimo said.

"There's no way of actually counting how many people will come," Vattimo said, since there will likely be last-minute people who will show up. "We know it will be a lot!"

Total solar eclipse path 03:38

They're already coming in droves. Madras Municipal Airport normally gets three flights an hour. Planes are now arriving every three minutes.

At one RV park, where all the spaces sold out months ago, the party has already started for a group who drove in from Washington state and Colorado.

Never have so many come here all at once, so no one's totally sure what to expect.

"We will do what we can and keep people safe, and hopefully they'll be happy and they'll go home and tell good things about Madras," said Mayor Royce Embanks.

You can find just about any eclipse merchandise possible around town, including -- yes -- beer. But Oregon state is expecting 1 million skygazers from out of town, so safety officials are asking people to also stock up on food and water.

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