George Rogers Park

I just came in from a nice long walk along the Willamette River that inspired me to tell you about George Rogers Park.

George Rogers Park is located on South State Street where it intersects with McVey. 26 acres in size, it includes an athletic field, tennis courts, a play ground, river access, and probably most famously, the Iron Furnace. The river front has got a sandy beach and it’s a good spot to fish, put in a canoe, and just generally play in the water.

The Iron Furnace is on the National Register of History Places. Oswego’s history goes back to the day when iron ore was discovered in the hills around Sucker Lake (now Oswego Lake) and the industrialists of early Oregon thought that Lake Oswego would become the Pittsburg of the West. It actually was a very significant part of Oregon history. Prior to 1867, the iron used anywhere on the West Coast, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, had to be brought around the horn of South America from the East Coast. The Iron Furnace in Lake Oswego changed that. And when you see iron work on old buildings in downtown Portland, you are likely looking at iron that was smelted in Lake Oswego.

George Rogers Park carries this theme artistically through the arbors, stone work, and even the shape of the grills on the fire rings.

It’s a lovely park. It has picnic areas that are covered and can be reserved for parties and special events.

I like to park may car there and walk South across Oswego creek and onto the paved path that winds through a gorgeous waterside forest and out onto River Rd. It goes all the way into West Linn. It’s mostly flat and has very little traffic. On a nice sunny day it’s pretty busy with bikes, runners, and walkers. I
highly recommend it.

One of the strangest houses in Lake Oswego can be seen along this path. I am going to tell you the story as it was told to me, by a contractor who worked on the house when it was being built. The house sits on a concrete piling that I believe was part of either the iron ore manufacturing or perhaps the cement manufacturing that happened slightly North of the spot in about the 1950’s. Somehow the piling was aquired by a private party who decided to build a house on it. The house was about 75% built when the owner ran out of money and it was abandoned. To my knowledge it has never been lived in. The glass windows and bridge access that I remember from when I first saw it are long gone. Now it almost looks haunted. I’m sure many walkers wonder what they are looking at when they see it today. So now you know.

We may not yet be having hot sunny days, but we are having beautiful winter-almost-spring-days like the one that we have had today. Get out and enjoy it!

Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts!!! ~ June 26, 27 & 28

artshow2The 2009, 46th annual Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts is just a couple of days away! It is always such a thrill to be in Lake Oswego during the festival. There is an air of celebration with pedestrians everywhere in the summer sun walking from the Lakewood Center for the Arts to George Rogers Park and local eateries and gathering places. Of course residents wade through some additional traffic, but we don’t seem to mind… taking in the sights and sounds of art, music, and visitors from all over.

This year the event includes the exhibit, “Cutting Edges: Contemporary Mosaic Art”, and it promises to be one for the record books. Aside from being an awesome display of mosaic work by an international group of participating artists, it is also the largest mosaic fine art exhibit ever offered in the United States (wow). World-renowned artists will display gorgeous pieces using stone, metal, precious jewels, glass, recycled and found items. You may wish to stroll and take it all in at the Lakewood Center, and/or take the opportunity provided to learn about the history of the ancient art, its materials and methods.

Downstairs in the first floor hallway you may enjoy the juried exhibit, “The Artist’s Vision” by Northwest artists. Also here you will find the “Visual Arts Invitational Chronicle” exploring the artist’s vision of Lake Oswego, and at the end of the hall is art from our Lake Oswego Grade Schools and Jr. High Schools. Outside in the pavilion tent will be more than 1,000 pieces of art by both professional and emerging artists, along with the High School exhibit, and hands-on activities for children.

All the artwork at the Lakewood Center will be offered for sale, with the exception of some of the school pieces.

Across the street at George Rogers Park you will be able to stroll through the juried “Fine Arts Crafts Faire” and take in a visual feast from more than 110 artisans. Enjoy music while you do from such artists as Linda Hornbuckle & Janice Scroggins, Marv & Rindy Ross, the Crazy 8’s, Ellen Whyte, 3 Leg Torso and others! Kids will enjoy the “Missoula Children’s Theatre” and “Kids Day in the Park”, and Mom & Dad might enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine at the pavilion staffed by the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

Music at the Lakewood Center will include a wide array of delectable fare including piano, saxophone, samba guitar, and jazz from artists including Hailey Niswanger, Ronnie Robbins, John NIlsen, and many more.

For more information on exhibit locations, music schedules, activity schedules, parking & shuttle locations, please visit:

See you at the Festival!

Furnace Gets Facelift

Lake Oswego's Iron Furnace in George Rogers Park

Lake Oswego’s historic Iron Furnace in George Rogers Park is set for a face lift, to be completed in June 2009.

This local treasure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is in need of some tender loving care. The exterior of the 44-foot high furnace is in decent shape, but the interior stonework is severely deteriorated.

Having been abandoned in 1885, the elements have taken their toll, and there is a danger of falling debris, therefore the furnace is fenced off and considered unsafe in its current condition. The restoration will replace grout, chink stones, bricks and basalt stones according to the City of Lake Oswego. The city anticipates that this work, plus a roof for protection, and compliance with current seismic standards will enable it to conduct regular pre-arranged group tours through the furnace structure.

The stone furnace was built by the Oregon Iron Company and began operating in August of 1867. With Oswego’s iron deposits, the company was the first manufacturer of iron on the West Coast, and the Oswego iron industry was reportedly the biggest manufacturing enterprise in Oregon during the nineteenth century. This amazing piece of Oregon history is said to be the only surviving iron furnace west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Lake Oswego City Council has awarded the $830,785 contract, to Pioneer Waterproofing, Inc. Requiring specialized skills, Pioneer Waterproofing fits the bill and has met the standard for brick and masonry restoration in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Pioneer Waterproofing has also completed impressive restoration projects which include Vista House, Crater Lake Lodge, Timberline Lodge, and the Portland Art Museum.