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The Explorers


Things to do There are plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities throughout


the length of the entire McKenzie River corridor - from guided fishing trips to soaking in geothermally heated hot springs or cycling along the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail to scuba diving in the headwaters at Clear Lake. People arriving from I-5 or the Eugene/Springfield metro area will


first encounter the rich farmlands the Cedar Flat, Walterville and Camp Creek areas that drew early pioneers. Fresh local fruit, flowers and vegetables are are available on a seasonal basis. Public parks, boat landings, stables, trail rides and a golf course are


among some of your choices - in addition to live rock and roll, blues and opera performances at a local supper club. For more details stop by the information kiosk in the parking lot of the Walterville Shopping Center.


Further to the east lie the communities of Leaburg and Vida where Scottish-born Alexander Mackenzie (1763-1820) entered the fur


trade and from 1788 to 1796 was the commander of Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca in present-day Alberta for the North West Com- pany. Between expeditions to the Arctic and Pacific oceans he went to England to learn navigational science. Upon his return to England in 1801 he published “Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America,” a chronicle of his exploits in western Canada. Mackenzie acted as a statesman in urging Britain to assert control over the Pacific Northwest after being knighted for his achievements in exploration. Alexander Mackenzie was the second European explorer to reach


Lake Athabasca and the Great Slave Lake, following the American Peter Pond. He also promoted a possible route to the Pacific on Pond’s prediction that a river coming out of the Great Slave Lake would flow to the Pacific Ocean. Following this river in 1789 (which later bore his name), Mackenzie reached the Arctic, instead of the Pacific Ocean. Four years later he ascended the Peace River before crossing over the Continental Divide to the Fraser River - which he believed to be the upper reaches of the Columbia. In July of 1793 he traveled over land in fourteen days to the Pacific Ocean at present- day Bella Coola, British Columbia. He became the first European to reach the Pacific coast north of Mexico by traveling from the east. Thomas Jefferson heard of Mackenzie’s success and was drawn to


his description of an easy crossing of the Continental Divide. Reports indicated a path only “eight hundred and seventeen paces in length over a ridge of 3,000 ft. elevation” and said mountains to the south were even lower. That convinced Jefferson of the feasibility of an American expedition across the continent. In addition, Mackenzie’s recommendations that the British government secure control of the Pacific Northwest probably hastened that authorization. Another Scotish explorer, the energetic Donald Mackenzie - who


despite weighing 300 pounds - earned the moniker of “Perpetual Motion.” A friendly man, he impressed the Indians he met with his abilitv to make quick, firm decisions and by his fair treatment in trading. In Scotland, where Donald Mackenzie was born in 1783, he began


his studies with an eye toward the ministry but soon gave it up. As a teenager in 1800 he left the old country to sail for new adventures in Canada. This latter Mackenzie reportedly had ten years of fur trading expe-


rience by the time John Jacob Astor offered him a partnership - along with half a dozen other Canadians - in the newly formed Pacific Fur Company. Astor sent two parties to set up a trading post at the mouth of the Columbia - one by land, the other by sea. Mackenzie went with the overland party led by Astor’s American partner Wilson Price Hunt. Mackenzie and several of his French-Canadian voyageurs arrived at


Page 2 Photo courtesy ODFW


wild fish can be seen pass- ing through the fish ladders at Leaburg dam. Their hatchery bred cousins can be viewed at both the McKenzie Salmon Hatchery and the Leaburg Trout Hatchery, where both self-guided and guided trails are available. Growing here as well are filberts,


otherwise known as hazelnuts. Electrical power generation is evident in the form of Leaburg Dam, which formed its 40-acre namesake lake when constructed in 1928. Still in operation, the complex includes hiking trails, a ball field and extensive picnic areas - free of charge. Moving further up the river brings travelers to Nimrod, Finn Rock


and Blue River. Here are a number of resorts that owe their heritage to the development of the world renowned McKenzie River drift boat that opened up streams and rapids previously thought impassable. Natural resources - from timber to gold mining, also played a strong role in these communities development and form a rich local history. Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge are the area’s furthest east settle-


ments and host three Scenic Byways - along Highways 126 and 242, as well as US Forest Service Road #19 - that provide routes leading toward Cascade mountain vistas and clear mountain lakes. Back on the Valley floor is an 18 hole golf course and numerous trailheads, campgrounds, boat ramps and both road and mountain bik- ing choices.


2012 McKenzie River Recreation Guide


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59059 Old McKenzie Hwy. McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413 Ph/FAX (541) 822-3358


rivref@aol.com mckenzie.orenews.com 2012 Bicentennial McKenzie River Recreation Guide


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