Silver Falls State park is Oregon's largest state park at 9,064 acres. Located twenty-six miles
    from Salem, surrounded on three sides by farmland, and flanked to the east by the Cascade
    Range, this temperate rainforest shrouds you with the feeling of another world.

    Within the park boundaries, more than thirty miles of trails meander through Douglas fir,
    hemlock, and cedar stands footed by a forest floor carpeted with ferns, mosses, and
    wildflowers. Encompassing five waterfalls greater than 100 feet, the popular Trail of Ten Falls
    takes visitors past six waterfalls and behind four.This park is an Oregon treasure.

    Prior to becoming state park property,
    Silver Falls was host to a variety of en-
    deavors. Spurred by widespread logging,
    a small town called Silver Falls City once
    sat atop South Falls—its gradual demise
    mimicking that of the timber industry.
    Despite the fact that much of the land
    was cleared, still, locals explored, camp-
    ed, and picnicked in the extraordinary
    world around the creeks and falls, while
    yet others seized opportunity to make a
    buck. D.E. Geiser, who owned the
    spectacular 177-foot South Falls,
    charged a dime admission to view the
    falls and a quarter to witness stunts
    which included not only pushing old cars off the falls, but once involved sending the daredevil
    Al Faussett over the drop in a covered canoe. Yet another property owner ran a honky-tonk
    along the park’s border, while still one more “entrepreneur” blared music that resonated
    through the canyon.

    Beginning on March 21, 1931, under the guidance of Parks Superintendent, Samuel H.
    Boardman, the state began acquiring land in the Silver Falls area. One of the first purchases
    was Geiser’s 100 acres, including South Falls: “This was the nest egg which hatched into a
    completed Silver Falls State Park,” Boardman later wrote. Members of the Salem Chamber of
    Commerce had become interested in the park project following years of tireless promoting by
    Silverton photographer, June Drake—who is today widely held as “the spark that brought about
    this great park.” Further acquisitions continued between 1931 to 1945 in the form of both
    purchases and gifts, and on July 23, 1933, the park was officially dedicated.

    The size of Silver Falls State Park multiplied in 1948 and 1949 when the federal government
    deeded nearly 6,000 acres of land, via the National Park Service, to the state of Oregon for
    recreational purposes. The land (like the Presidential retreat, Camp David) had been a
    Recreational Demonstration Area. It was adopted by the National Park Service during the New
    Deal era of Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to restore the lands to their original state, and to
    provide recreational opportunities to families and deprived youth through the formation of
    camps. Land continued to be acquired with another inclusion in 1984, when Leo Cieslak
    bequeathed 160 acres and, more recently, in 2006 when the department purchased an
    additional 365 acres on the north boundary of the park from the DeSantis family to make the
    total park acreage grow to over 9,000 acres.

    While the Great Depression devastated much of the country, the development of Silver Falls’
    trails, forest restoration, and buildings came into being as a result of President Franklin
    Roosevelt’s creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Works Progress
    Administration (WPA). In 1935, CCC Camp Park No. 9 opened and 200 workers, along with
    WPA craftspeople and artisans, began a seven-year transformation of the park that visitors
    continue to enjoy today.

    Samuel Boardman, recognized as the father of Oregon State Parks, said it best: The value of
    Silver Falls State Park can never be “…measured in monetary values for there is no yardstick
    for computation, neither is there a way to evaluate the spiritual and recreational values.”

    *Adapted in part from an article by Christine Barnes.

Civilian Conservation Corps at SFSP
The Historic South Falls Lodge was one
of the original structures built by the C.C.C.
in 1940. The lodge was hand built with raw  
materials taken from the park. The tables
you see there today were constructed with
two Myrtle wood trees (California Laurel).
The South Falls Lodge served as a
restaurant from 1946 to late 1950's when it
was closed. It was restored and re-opened
in 1978. Today it is used for visitor
information, Interpretive events, upstairs
office space, and it houses the cafe.