Monday, July 7, 2014
Best Kept Secret Park in Lake Oswego
Best Kept Secret Park in Lake Oswego Great for Bike Riders, Walking and Running with Scenic River Views Lex Loeb Contributor Network . Lake Oswego does not like to advertise some of its best attractions for fear of attracting non-locals. The area has many interesting treasures almost no one from the Portland area bothers to explore. Lake Oswego has long had the cache' of an upper middle class white Anglo Saxon enclave that does not want the company of everyone from the Portland Metro Area coming in. One can't blame the present day city for trying to protect itself against crowds of non local strangers using their public facilities. Anyone who has been to lake Oswego actual lake knows it is a privately owned body of water that does not welcome the public access in anyway. That is not true of the Oswego Furnace Tower in George Rogers Park or Old River Drive that connects to the park's main pathway up along the Willamette river front. Along most of Old River drive the frontage properties do happen to be private no trespassing areas and the signs should be respected by visitors . There is unlimited beach access at low tide though a variety of public pathways from the road but one has to explore to find them as the only way to know which are public is the absence of no trespassing signs. There are no homes built on the water front side of old river road but the pedestrian / bike path does seem to be cut across private properties. There are a number of 2 and 3 million dollar homes built above the road looking across the Willamette river at other very expensive homes on the other side. Views are best in late fall to early spring when the deciduous tree leaves are gone. To get to George Rogers Park just google the name and "Lake Oswego" and it comes up on the map. To get there you turn Left coming from Portland right across the street from the Lake Center that looks like a school building or wait till you see the park and turn left before you come to the bridge over the out flow from private lake Oswego. You Drive or bike down to the lowest level you can go toward the river. Suddenly you have what looks like a view in an old European romantic pastoral painting with a rough hough basalt stone tower with inset Gothic style brick arches and you see a concrete tower further up river. The park is semi formal with picnicking grounds where you approach the river. The Oswego Tower was built back in the days when Lake Oswego was an industrial area between the Edison dam at Willamette falls in Oregon city and the City of Portland. It is funny how a industrial relic like this is considered to be a "national treasure" so it says at the site when the evidence of how it permanently changed the local environment at the site is still visible. The tower was originally used as a cast iron blast furnace to cast sewer and water pipes for the city of Portland by a New York transplant by the name of Green. Maybe it was Green who gave lake Oswego it's New York Sounding Oswego name in the first place? The tower is in a semi state of ruins with some of the brick work falling gout of the Gothic arches. It looks like it is less than 50 ft tall but is still very imposing for its location near the river. There are a couple of large cast iron plugs that probably were once discarded in the river and brought back up to the park as historic curiosities. All along the river front beach one finds sharp jagged chucks of glass slag from the molten iron making process. the slag is essentially man made obsidian but it has an opaque olive green tint among other colors at the site. Some of it is also contains small crystals from long term cooling that causes it to shimmer with reflective glitter with in. The area has lots of evidence of a long industrial life of the tower blast furnace at the site that altered the local environment. Up river from this tower is another mysterious tower that looks like a broken bridge peer or a river watch tower . It is made of solid concrete but abandoned. Together the two towers give a very European pastoral look to the view,. Forested pastoral might be a better description. The pathway that leads both to the area below the lake Oswego dam which is also interesting on its own) and to the concrete tower further up river leads you over an interesting bridge span over the lake Oswego river out flow to a natural waterfall that cascades down a natural rock formation 100 ft or more. In the rainy season there is probably a substantial waterfall there. Did you know there was such a water fall in the Portland metro area? I didn't. That is why I think someone has to leak the secret. The waterfall is not a sheer drop like multinomial falls but it is a natural stream that comes over dark black basalt rocks all the way down to the Willamette river. Go and see it when the creek or springs feeding it are gorged with water in the rainy season. The trail upriver then becomes part of the Old River Drive fronting the river. It is a great place to ride a bike though just about 1 mile in each direction before the road heads up hill at a steep slope going in a round about way to Marylhurst College which is at a higher elevation above the river than the houses fronting the road. There are other bike paths along Pacific highway that lead to Marylhurst College and beyond maybe to the bridge to Oregon City? The bike path on pacific highway also meets up with Glenorie Park and the bigger Mary S. Young State Park. Mary S Young Park is more suitable for hiking than bike riding although it may still have some highland bike access. Marylhurst College , itself looks like an excellent place for riding a bike around. The problem with getting to Lake Oswego from Portland on a bike is Macadam Avenue which seems a dangerous place to ride because of the narrowing of the road from one and two lanes with aggressive Mercedes Benz type cars commuting to and from Lake Oswego and Portland. It really is too bad bike access to and though lake Oswego is not better than it is. The old rail road along the river would make an excellent bike bath but it is still in use as a railway. Parts of it do have a shoulder to walk or ride but not necessarily legally. Someday the old rail way there is apt to be a trimet max commuter train. Lake Oswego probably does not want that kind of access from Portland and multi million dollar homes fronting the railway may also object. I can't tell you the best way to get a bike to the George Roger. Getting i bikes past Macadam and the center of Lake Oswego might require them being driven there and then used to explore the area. The river view includes views of a variety of islands in the Willamette before River Roads shoots up hill into a suburban tract house development that is of limited interest. My rating for a short day trip in the Portland area is 5 stars especially if one has a bit of interest in history and architecture, Although a very simple structure the Oswego furnace is fascinating. The river is pleasant. The spot was hardly visited when I was there although there was a birth day party in the park shelter. I ran into less than 20 people on the whole 2 mile round trip stretch along the river and some of those were people who just made the round trip so I met them twice. There were also fewer than 10 cars that came by. Only one overly aggressive mazerati seemed a slight cause of concern. If you have not seen the Oswego Blast furnace I recommend a visit. .