Date of visit: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Population: 918 (2000 Census)

The quiet little town of Mapleton sits on the banks of the Siuslaw River about 15 miles inland from the coast. The general consensus is that the town is so named because of the abundance of bigleaf maples in the area. And there are indeed a lot of these lovely trees, which turn a lovely golden color in the fall. Unfortunately, many of the leaves had already fallen during my visit, but I still got a taste of the autumn show.

Oregonians remember the recent floods of 1996. There was a lot of rainfall and flooding 31 years earlier too. Mapleton was still recovering from flooding in December (which left up to three feet of water in some stores), when at 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, 1965, a wall of mud and debris flowed down off nearby Neely Mountain. It flowed across the railroad tracks and the highway and clogged up a 400 yard stretch of Main Street.

It was pretty slow-moving – one witness said it moved as fast as a man could walk – so injuries were light. In fact, only one injury was reported: that of the postmistress, who was swept out a side door of the post office (which ended up being destroyed by the landslide). At least 15 cars were “tossed aside” by the slide as it swept through town, according to an article in the Oregonian the next day. Two feet of mud stood in Merle Beck’s store. They eventually got the mess cleaned up, of course, and now 45 years later there is no evidence of the slide whatsoever.

From the Mapleton LibraryView from the Mapleton Library

Frank's PlaceFrank’s Place

Cool architectureCool architecture

Maple rowMaple row

Public DockPublic Dock

Siuslaw RiverSiuslaw River

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Oregon Towns Project

Every town in Oregon

When you’re on a road trip, just trying to get from point A to point B, do you ever drive by all those freeway exits denoting one small town after another and wonder what you’d find there? Or driving down a state highway you see a sign pointing down a side road that says Jefferson – 10 miles, but you never take that side road because Jefferson isn’t on the way to anywhere you need to go.

Well, I’ve decided I’m going to visit these little places that people always pass by. I’m going to visit every town in Oregon, big or small. It will probably take me many years – Oregon is 98,466 square miles and has about 450 towns, depending on which source you consult. I’ll take at least one photo in each place and learn at least one interesting thing about each place. I’ll write about my experiences here on my blog.

It’ll take me awhile, but I think this will be fun and I’ll get to learn a lot about my home state!

Oregon Towns Project