CASCADIA — The Linn County Parks Department will manage Cascadia State Park, leading to what is hoped will be a transfer of the historic 253-acre site to county ownership next year.
Linn County Parks Director Brian Carroll said the county will be reimbursed for services with income generated by the park’s campsites.
Carroll and Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker have been working with Oregon State Parks on a possible transfer of ownership for about six years.
“My goal is that before I leave office, this project will be completed,” Tucker said. “We had hoped to complete this already, but we also want to make sure we clean up any restrictive deeds that are on the park. We want a clear title.”
Tucker said the park, which is about 14 miles east of Sweet Home, will fit nicely with the county and U.S. Forest Service camping sites in the area, although it may be difficult to add camping spaces to the existing site.
“The ability to expand may be restricted,” Tucker said. “There are creeks and wetlands issues, plus heritage sites.”
But, Tucker added, county staff already drive past Cascadia State Park en route to a half-dozen U.S. Forest Service campgrounds along the South Santiam, as well as Clear Lake Resort near the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 126. All those sites are managed or owned by Linn County.
Linn County’s River Bend County Campground is 5 miles west of Cascadia State Park.
Tucker added that he believes campground use will increase because it will be added to the county’s online reservation system.
Carroll said the one-year contract will run from March 2019 to March 2020.
“There are quite a few trees down there due to the snow,” Carroll said. “The campground is gated off and it won’t open until May. From a maintenance efficiency standpoint, this makes perfect sense.”
Although Cascadia State Park is a bit rustic — somewhat like the U.S. Forest Service sites — Carroll said there are drinking water and septic systems, as well as restrooms and showers on site.
“The state has made some capital investments in recent years, including a new restroom and shower building,” Carroll said. “I think our staff is excited about taking on a new challenge. We want to see what we can do with it and we think we can do a good job.”
Property for the 253-acre park was accumulated from 1941 to 1980 and the original purchase included the Geisendorfer hotel and soda spring. In the 1920s, the site was a popular recreation area as families came to drink or swim in soda water.
“I hope we can work with the Department of Environmental Quality and get a soda water fountain working again,” Tucker said. “At one time, soda water was supposed to cure every ailment known to man.”
The park is a popular spot for camping, hiking, picnicking as well as fishing and swimming in the South Santiam River.
There are 22 tent sites that are first-come first-served, two group tent areas that can be reserved, two group picnic areas with covered kitchen shelters and electricity that can be reserved, a large open play meadow and an off-leash pet exercise area.
There are no RV hookups, although each camping site has potable water. The campground portion of the park is open from May through September.
Other features of the park include many large Douglas fir trees, and ruts from the historic Wagon Road still are visible.