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Best Parks That Used to Be Dumps

Photo by Athena Delene
Photo by Athena Delene

You might think of riverfront land as valuable, but in Eugene’s early days, the flood-prone banks of the Willamette were not where you wanted to build your house or business. In the post “dam all the rivers” era we have a much more stable riverfront (and fewer salmon), but our riversides bear the legacy of the bad decisions of the past. You know like, “Hey, let’s turn the riverside into a dump! Because it’s not like we are going to drink the water, right?” Once known as the “Day Island Landfill,” part of what is now Alton Baker Park between the Willamette and the canoe canal was home to “putrescible wastes” and chemical and liquid wastes. Closed in 1974 it was covered in sandy loam and grass, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Voila! A park is born! Away from the river in South Eugene, Tugman Park (named for a former Register-Guard editor) used to be a municipal burning site before it was closed in the 1950s after it was overrun by rates. The DEQ remediated it in the 1990s and now? Play ball!