Our Northwest

Meet the sunken ghost town beneath an Oregon lake

Monday, January 25, 2016by  Sharlyn Petit

When I’m searching my news feeds for fresh teen driver stories, I sometimes find a Northwest tale that 1) doesn’t involve teens, and 2) doesn’t involve driving.

That’s the joy of the Internet and its click-by-click rabbit hole of discovery. This time, it led me to a story about a tiny Oregon town, sunken in a reservoir for more than 60 years.

Last October, record low water levels in Detroit Lake, Ore., uncovered a 19th-century utility wagon of the 1950s town, Old Detroit. Abandoned and flooded with the construction of a dam in 1952, new remnants of Old Detroit emerge each year, like dam builder’s campsites, cement structures, and foundations.  

Guided by the OregonLive story, I got the brief history of the ghost town, from its settling to the decision to flood it. Of course, my Internet searching took me to findings in other Northwest drained lakes (underwater train trestles!), but I had to stop myself at just one.

One history tidbit about Old Detroit – it was named in the 1890s after Detroit, Mich., by – you guessed it – settlers from Michigan.

So, I think Jon Osterberg's love for retrospect is spreading.

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