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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Mt. Jefferson rises above Detroit Lake. (Oregon State Archives Photo No. marD0026a)
This week we're visiting a small town on the western side of Oregon: Detroit. Yes--Detroit, Oregon. This is a nostalgic visit for me, as I worked at nearby Detroit Lake State Park the summer I was twenty years old--a few years back. LOL!

During my online visit, I was delighted to see the beautiful new Lodge at Detroit Lake <http://www.lodgeatdetroitlake.com/index.html>. There weren't many guest accommodations in the area during the summer I lived there--mostly campgrounds. I felt lucky to rent an available studio apartment almost on the shore of the lake. 

Detroit's population of 279 is the weekday and off-season population. On weekends during the summer, the population swells into the thousands as tourists from nearby Salem and Portland, as well as other places, flee to this beautiful recreation area. 

The lake that provides much of this recreation was created when Detroit dam was completed in 1952, with a 3000-acre reservoir filling behind it. The original unincorporated town of Detroit was moved to its current location and incorporated that same year. 

One of the oddest sights I saw when working at the State Park was during the off-season when the reservoir wasn't filled. The mountains in this area are covered with a thick carpet of fir trees, which were cut down to stumps before the reservoir formed. The lake that is beautiful blue water during the summer is reduced to the North Santiam River running through a desert of stumps in the winter.

If you want to learn more about the building of the dam, you can check out this link <http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/detroit_dam/>. The Oregon State Parks Web site also has info about the area <http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_93.php>. Or you can visit the Web site for the Detroit Lake Recreation Area Business Association <http://detroitlakeoregon.org/index.cfm>. 

This is beautiful country!

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