06 January 2008

[meme] ZehnKatzen's Weekly Winners #5: Silverton and Her Creek

1233. For this week's Weekly Winners, here's yet more photos of Silverton (we did take quite a few). But the focus this time is just what gave the charming little burg its name – a picturesque (and famous) stream known as Silver Creek ... or, as you might see it italicize on a map, Silver Creek.

Silver Creek is famous because the canyon in its upper reaches, about 15 miles southeast of Silverton, are home to the most amazing constellation of waterfalls south of Multnomah Falls, and Silver Falls State Park is Oregon's largest. Directions to the Falls are given to tourists from Salem, but every Silvertonian knows that Silverton is the true gateway to the falls.

But I, as is my will and my wont, digress. After flowing through forests and hills, and after being interrupted by the dam that impounds Silverton Reservior, Silver Creek meanders through trees into the south end of town.

I, like many people, do not live in the place I was born. I was born here in Silverton, within a mile of this creek (no great achievement – Silverton hardly sprawls). The creek, like many places in Silverton, is a mix; flashes of beauty embedded in a great amount of what's unremarkable, but still very pleasant. The result is idyll.

Additionally, living in Portland means I still get to be insufferably smug about being native Oregonian even though I don't live in my birth town any more. And I am. Insufferable about being an Oregonian, I mean. But there I go digressing again.

After flowing past Oregon hill foliage and rough, past a pocket neighborhood containing streets emblazoned with the names of Silverton pioneer families such as Barger and Cowing, the creek sidles up along downtown. Just like many early Oregon towns, Silverton built her downtown with its back to the water:

The downtown buildings are there on the left. The covered bridge, and the park on the right, are rather recent, and evidence of another Oregonized evolution; the opening up of the riverfronts of towns that had turned their backs on the river. The park site is personal for me; when I was a sprout, there was a grocery on that site owned by a family friend, a Mrs. Lillian Hoyt. Hoyt's Grocery was a neighborhood grocery in a town small enough that there were few neighborhoods; a convenience store before there were convenience stores. Even my mother worked behind the counter once or twice. Penny candy, half-dollars the size of your palm ... good times, good memories.

The view north (above) is pretty much the same as it's always been. This photo might have been taken 30 years ago. And, though Silverton is still a small place – with a population still below 8,000 – My Little Town has contrasts where the eye endeavors to look. For right on the other side of those buildings in the picture is this:

North Water Street which, save for the changing of the tenants of the retail spaces, still looks not very much different from, say, 30 years ago.

Once again, the Tao of Silverton.

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Tasina said...

Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures and the explanations. I love that covered bridge.

MP said...

I love that bridge too..very beautiful!

Samuel John Klein said...

Thankyew, good peoples. It's one thing to post photos to one's blog, and rather another to get such feedback. Makes it worth it!

Lotus (Sarcastic Mom) said...

There's something so surreal about seeing buildings that end right upon water like that. Very cool!

Samuel John Klein said...

It's just like Silverton that way ... like I said in the post, a sea of somewhat boring, mostly delightful normality with this little flashes of wow in it.

The way those buildings back right up to the creek is almost European, neh?

But then you pull back and ... sleppy little Oregon town.

I'm sure that place explains me in a way, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Sarah Fronza said...

This is the previous anon. - my real name is Sarah Fronza - I can never remember my gmail log-in while I'm away. Just got back from Chicago. Anyway ... beautiful photos of our native town - absolutely gorgeous. It has been such a joy to watch the renovations in our town over the past several years - the Wolf Building was/is a masterpiece (corner of Main and Water) - stop by the next time you swing through town. Also, directly across the street, the same man who renovated the Wolf building is also redoing that one as well. Totally cool. Darn - I still can't remember to ask my dad about Digerness. He's a land-use attorney, so he's always up-to-date on such matters! One of these days.

Love your blog.

Samuel John Klein said...

Hey, Sarah. Thanks for checking back. I still have some piccys held back, so there's more Silvertonian goodness to come.

I recently found out some interesting things about my own family too. My grandmother wanted to be a graphic designer - or what they called it when she was a youngster, a "commercial artist" ... I'm finding out that artistic ambition actually runs fairly deep in my family, and Silverton has given the world more than her share of artists, even if they don't get well known (like Mr. Digerness).

I remember well that building across the street from the Wolf Block. When I was a kid, it was the 88-Cent Store. My family doctor, Dr Pettit (yes, I believe he's the granddad of our own local astronaut) had his office in the building at the southeast corner of First and East Main. I don't begrudge Silverton a cute little restaurant in the Wolf, but the idea of a hardware store not being there kind of makes me sad, in an attenuated, dried-flower-wan sort of way.

I'll put the Wolf Block on my list of things to take a closer look at next time we go through.

And your comments on here have rocked, by the way. thanks for checking in.