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The originator of Oregon's State Parks system gets federal designation

Brian Bull
The sign greeting visitors at Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site.

The first recreational site in Oregon that launched the state parks system a century ago has a new distinction.

The Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site has been formally accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. It’s named for the woman who donated five and a half acres of her family’s property to the state highway commission in 1922, for a rest stop.

Brian Bull
Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site's acreage includes a picnic area.

Chris Havel, a spokesperson for Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department, described the site to KLCC as a “sleepy little spot.”

“It’s got a nice picnic area, it’s right on the Luckiamute River, but you wouldn’t go into it and say, ‘Wow, this is as wonderful as Silver Falls or Heceta Head Lighthouse on the coast!’ or something like that,” said Havel. “But it’s such an important place, because of its history.”

Havel said the honor was announced in June during the Oregon State Park’s centennial celebration, at Sarah Helmick State Recreation Site.

Since its earliest beginnings in 1922, Oregon’s parks system now has 254 sites, covering over 100,000 acres.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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