In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, Silver Falls State Park is possibly one of Oregon’s most under appreciated tourist destinations. In many ways the beauty of the area eclipses that of Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River Gorge, yet it sees much fewer visitors.
Located just under sixty miles from Portland and twenty-six east of Salem, Silver Falls State Park is a day use fee area and campground area capable of handling full RVs. The real attraction though is the park’s 24 miles of walking trails (portions of which are multi-use for horses and bikes,) and the 8.7 mile Trail of Ten Falls. Four of the ten falls can be walked behind, providing some spectacular pictures.
A small city, named Silver Falls City formed in about 1888 at the top of the falls. The town never grew big enough to get it’s own post office, and as the timber around the area was logged, the town’s population fell in numbers. But despite the rather barren country side, the owner of the land around South Falls, D.E. Geiser charged a dime admission to see the falls, and coordinated many stunts over the falls. These included pushing cars over the falls, and once the daredevil
Al Faussett went over in a covered canoe.
In 1900, a local photographer named June D. Drake from nearby Silverton, started campaigning for the area to gain park status. In 1926 the National Parks Service declined due to the badly logged area but the State of Oregon, under Samuel H. Boardman’s direction, started purchasing land in the area. In 1935 Franklin D. Roosevelt turned the Silver Falls Area into Recreational Demonstration Area and approved the purchase of land to do so. The Civilian Conservation Corps began rehabilitating the area and built the (now) Historic South Falls Lodge. The 6000 acres of land in the area that the Federal Government had purchased were donated to the State of Oregon by 1949, which doubled the size of the park.