Monday, June 14, 2010

Dodge Park expedition

Dodge Park & Sandy River from Lusted Rd. Bridge

Dodge Park


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Today's adventure takes us out to Dodge Park, at the confluence of the Sandy and Bull Run Rivers somewhat north of the town of Sandy. It's right across the street from a Portland Water Bureau facility (part of the Bull Run water system), and the Water Bureau runs the park too. The Parks Bureau used to co-manage the place, and there's still a classic-style Portland park sign out front, with the Parks Bureau logo painted over.

When I visited the park last summer, my main project that day was taking photos of Sandy River bridges, including a pair right next to the park. I actually took too many photos, and I still haven't sorted through them all and picked out ones to post yet. I did have a manageable number of the park itself, which makes the job a lot easier.

Dodge Park

There's been a park here for almost as long as there's been a Bull Run water system. The Water Bureau's history page for the park doesn't give an exact date for its creation and just says it's nearly a century old. They have a few historic photos showing the park's heyday in the early 20th century, when an excursion train carried city dwellers out here for a sunny day by the river. One Yelp reviewer proposes reviving the train. It's kind of a neat idea, if only so we can watch Bojack and friends blow a gasket over it. And sure, it would probably lose buckets of money, and it's hard to argue that a picnic train would be strictly necessary, and it would tend to attract a lot of those weird old guys who have a thing for trains. So I'm not sure it's necessarily a practical idea. I just always try to keep in mind that practical ideas and good ideas aren't always the same thing.

Dodge Park & Sandy River from Lusted Rd. Bridge

Perhaps more useful than a picnic train would be a shuttle bus connecting the popular parks along the river.  Rafting is a big deal on the Sandy, as is kayaking, and just floating the river on an old inner tube.  Whatever your means of going downstream, it'd be handy to have a way of getting back upstream to your car when you're done.  Or, for that matter, a shuttle into Gresham so you can hop on MAX from there.

The city's trying to promote the park as a bike destination.  Which sounds nice, in theory, and it's bound to poll well among likely voters.  In practice, I'm not sure that the surrounding roads are all that bike-friendly.  Lots of blind corners and so forth, although people who are likely to ride here are probably used to that sort of thing.

The park's also a popular fishing spot, if you're into that.  I don't have enough patience, or tolerance for disappointment, plus I'm fairly certain I'd end up with a fish hook through the eyelid at some point, which I'm not too big on.

Oh, and here's the Water Bureau's index of their pages about the park, in case I've missed anything.

Dodge Park

If you're thinking about visiting in the near future, be aware there's ongoing construction in the vicinity, and you may want to check current conditions to see whether the bridge is currently open or not.  The Water Bureau is relocating a major water pipe from an above-ground bridge (which you'll see in a later post about bridges) to a tunnel deep underground, and apparently that involves tearing up all sorts of things in the process.  The Water Bureau's also been renovating the park itself in recent years (generously funded by our rapidly increasing water rates).  A news story from 2008 lists a number of proposed enhancements, including adding a number of overnight camping spots (at present the park is strictly a day use area).  The overnight facilities aren't in place yet, but according to a comment on this post the city's already looking for park hosts for the 2011 opening, where a "park host" is essentially a resident caretaker, except (hopefully) with people skills.

Dodge Park

The usual reason given for the tunnel project is to protect us from the Evildoers, since the above-ground pipe could be potentially vulnerable.  Assuming the Evildoers have ever heard of Oregon, that is, and have lowered their sights to causing major but temporary inconvenience on a regional scale.  So I'm thinking the whole Evildoer thing is mostly there to help get the project funded.  Which is not to say it's not a valid project; the Sandy River lies in the shadow of Mt. Hood, which -- let's not forget -- is a dormant volcano, not an extinct one.  It last had a major eruption in the late 1700's, and a minor one as recently as 1907.  And even the 1700's are less than a heartbeat in geological time.  As this study on the geology of the area notes, the Sandy River area is prone to lahars, basically flash floods of mud and rocks that are often volcanic in origin.  When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, debris flowed down river channels and destroyed everything in its path, including a number of important bridges.  So if Mt. Hood ever went off in a big way, our puny little water main bridges would be goners.

The June 1973 issue of The Ore Bin, a journal published by the Oregon Department of Geology & Mineral Industries, carried a piece speculating what would happen "If Mount Hood Erupts". The bridges here get taken out, and that's just one of many very bad things that happen. Other than the choice of volcano, the story's scenario is eerily similar to the Mt. St. Helens eruption just seven years later, right down to occurring in mid-May.

Dodge Park & Sandy River from Lusted Rd. Bridge

The area around Dodge Park has been the subject of at least one bigfoot search, presumably an unsuccessful one, otherwise I assume we'd have heard more about this. So yeah, I'm a skeptic. My attitude towards cryptozoology is basically "DNA, or it didn't happen". But so long as they aren't looking to shoot bigfoot and make a rug out of him, or send his body parts to China for use as an aphrodisiac, I suppose believing in bigfoot is mostly harmless.

I'm not so sure about this business of looking for bigfoot in city parks and near populated areas. I mean, on one hand it's close by and easy to get to, and if you're going to spend a lot of time not finding bigfoot, you may as well not find him somewhere convenient. On the other hand, suppose you do find bigfoot in a city park. Chances are he'll be scavenging half-eaten Big Macs out of trash cans and getting plastered on abandoned cans of Busch Lite and Old English 800. And nobody really wants to see that sad spectacle, do they?

Dodge Park


While searching for info about the park, I ran across a number of large planning documents that mention it in passing, as a convenient landmark on the Sandy River. So these won't tell you a lot about the park itself, but if you want to go all policy wonk about the Sandy River area,

  • Multnomah County's East of Sandy River Rural Area Plan (similar to nw rural area plan, see Mason Hill Park post) The park is only mentioned briefly here, because it's in Clackamas, not Multnomah county.

  • Sandy River Basin Integrated Management Plan - US Department of the Interior and others. This doc mentions that river from here downstream to Dabney State Park is federally designated as a Wild & Scenic River.

  • BLM Western Oregon Resource Management Plan. When I hear "BLM", I tend to think "sagebrush", and it always surprises me that they also own random bits of land here and there west of the Cascades. They seem to own a little land along the Sandy, in fact, so Dodge Park gets another brief mention in passing.
Dodge Park Elsewhere on the Interwebs:
Dodge Park & Sandy River from Lusted Rd. Bridge Dodge Park Dodge Park

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