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  • Waldo Lake History, Precontact to Present Times

Waldo Lake History, Precontact to Present Times

  • 30 Jun 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Zoom


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Waldo Lake and vicinity remained essentially an uncharted wilderness until the second half of the Nineteenth Century. The area was largely devoid of its aboriginal inhabitants when Judge John Breckenridge Waldo and his companions spent their summers recreating in the Cascades between 1880 and 1907. These Cascade Mountain respites ultimately led Waldo to call for the area's preservation. But Waldo Lake succumbed to another force in the history of the West, the reclamation movement. In 1905, promoters filed for water rights on Waldo for use as a natural reservoir. The first phase that began in 1905 was a failed attempt to develop the lake as a reservoir for power generation, ending in the mid-1930s as markets declined for hydroelectric power and irrigation water. Federal reclamation projects soon took up the slack, beginning in 1939 with a proposal to divert Waldo Lake out of the Willamette drainage entirely to the Upper Deschutes Project via canals and tunnels through the crest of the Oregon Cascades. Next, the Columbia River project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed during the 1940s and 50s depicted Waldo Lake as a vital component of the Upper Willamette system of reclamation installations. By the mid-1950s the twin movements of recreation and wilderness preservation took root and renewed Judge Waldo's call for the protection of and recreation in such places as Waldo Lake. Initially, recreation development held sway, culminating in developed campground facilities in the 1960s. By 1984, the area surrounding Waldo Lake was officially designated as wilderness.


Paul Claeyssens is a Senior consultant in historic preservation, cultural resource management, tribal relations and TEK for government, tribes and the private sector. He is also an experienced and qualified member of wildfire suppression incident overhead teams responsible for natural and cultural resource protection.

Mailing address: PO Box 8146 Bend, Oregon 97708-8146

Email: ascoinfomail@gmail.com

"Archaeological Society of Central Oregon" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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