The Cascade mountains of the Willamette National Forest are a popular summer tour for people from all over the state and beyond, well known for great hiking and biking trails in particular — but along Hwy 126, the small town of Blue River is getting less traffic stopping in than it should, says a man who’s trying to change that.
Blue River is an unincorporated town of under 200 people that sits along the McKenzie Highway, adjacent to the 1,240-acre Blue River Reservoir, and it is a place where, according to resident Bob Shafer, “everybody knows everybody … and that’s a good thing.” Shafer seeks to revitalize the town’s sole park, Blue River Community Park, in order to give locals a safe, beautiful place to enjoy and to encourage valley visitors to stop for a picnic and hopefully some gas or snacks as they bomb over to Bend and back.
The park land was donated about 40 years ago, Shafer says, and is well equipped with a gazebo, barbeque pits, benches, a playground, baseball field and even tennis and basketball courts that all need some simple updates to make the place attractive to visitors again. “Nobody has really taken the helm to try and get this thing back to where it would be a useful money maker for Blue River,” he says. Until now, that is.
Shafer used to live in Eugene and would travel to Bend on business twice weekly, until he found himself liking the land along the McKenzie enough to make it home. “When we decided to move, we looked all over and it just came right back to Blue River.” He adds, “Some people might say that Blue River back in the day had its reputation because the tavern was here and it was a Wild West town back in the gold mining days and the logging days. Well, those days are gone. Now it’s just a quiet community, but it’s really nice up here.”
He’s going to need a little help from some friends, however. In order to replace the wood of the park’s benches, fix the barbeque pits and restore the vandalized playground, Shafer has started a donation page on the online portal gofundme.com (search “Bring Blue River Community Park Back”) and hopes to raise about $2,000 to make the necessary changes. If all goes well, by summer 2013 your next stop in Blue River may not be just to fix your flat.