Friday, 19 June 2015

Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, United States

Silver Falls State Park is a state park in the Oregon, United States , actually located near Silverton, around 32 kilometers east-southeast of Salem. It is the largest state park in Oregon with an area of more than 9,000 acres, and it includes more than 39 kilometers of walking trails, of around 23 kilometers of horse trails, and 6.4 km bike path. The waterfall 14 km Canyon Trail/Trail of Ten Falls runs along the banks of Silver Creek and by ten waterfalls, from which the park received its name. Four of the ten falls have an amphitheater-like surrounding that lets the trail to pass behind the flow of the falls. The Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area and the Silver Creek Youth Camp-Silver Falls State Park are separately listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. The park's most visited waterfall is South Falls, a 177-foot cascade. Remote Double Falls, however, is listed as the highest waterfall in the park, plunging 178 feet in a small tributary side canyon deep within the Silver Creek Canyon. Silver Falls City formed in 1888 and was primarily a logging community with a few homesteaders, and the area was extensively logged. The small lumber town of Silver Falls City sat atop the South Falls, and as the land was cleared, a local entrepreneur sold admission to the Falls area, with attractions such as pushing cars over the falls and even hosting a stunt with a daredevil riding over in a canoe. By 1900 a Silverton photographer, June D. Drake, began to campaign for park status, using his photographs of the falls to gain support. (Drake Falls was later named for him. In 1926, however, an inspector for the National Park Service disallowed the area for park status because of a proliferation of unattractive stumps after years of logging.

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that the Silver Falls area would be turned into a Recreational Demonstration Area. Private land that had been logged was purchased, and workers in the Civilian Conservation Corps were employed to develop park facilities, including the historic South Falls Lodge, completed in the late 1930s. It was used as a restaurant from 1946 until the late 1950s and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Silver Falls State Park Concession Building Area in 1983. The Silver Creek Youth Camp Silver Falls State Park was also added to the National Register at this time. In January 2008, supplemental legislative session, Fred Girod of the Oregon House of Representatives sought federal designation of the area as a national park via a house joint memorial to the United States Congress, but the bill died in committee. The history of the canyon's formation originates about 26 million years ago to the Oligocene period, when most of Oregon was covered by ocean. After the waters of the ocean retreated around 15 million years ago, the flood basalt flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group covered the sandstone that had been the ocean floor. The softer layers of sandstone beneath the basalt sheet eroded over time, creating pathways behind some of the waterfalls that Civilian Conservation Corps workers widened to make safe for public use. Another geologic feature are many tree "chimneys" or casts, formed when hot lava engulfed living trees and disintegrated them. Moreover within the park are many waterfalls, including ten along the Trail of Ten Falls (marked * in the table below) and five more below the confluence of the North and South forks of Silver Creek. Volunteers inspired by the beauty and history of Silver Falls have been active there since establishment of the park in 1933.

Therefore, in 1986 the peoples and the park staff envisioned a mission and established the Friends of Silver Falls State Park, Inc. The main mission is "to further the educational and interpretive opportunities available to park tourists; to promote the preservation, protection and enhancement of the historical, natural, and entertaining resources within the park; and to assist in the implementing park improvements and educational programs compatible with the nature of Silver Falls State Park. As a result, this private and public partnership has created a more meaningful park experience for the nearly one million annual visitors to the park, far beyond what state park funding alone can provide. Since 1992, volunteers of the Friends of Silver Falls State Park have operated the Nature Store in historic South Falls Lodge. This store offers a variety of books, clothing and souvenirs in keeping with the park's nature theme. 

The organization has also been accountable for much of the interpretive signage along the Trail of Ten Falls. Other goals of the Friends include compiling oral histories from those who have memories of the park region, keeping alive the history of Silver Falls City, recognizing the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and 1940s, maintaining the park's historic district, and continuing to place interpretive signs throughout the park's more than 9,000 acres.