Community picnic draws dozens of Cascadia residents

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Members of the Cascadia community, past and present, enjoyed a day reminiscing, playing and picnicking Sunday at Cascadia State Park.

The picnic was the first of what some hope will be an annual event where residents and former residents get together to enjoy their state park, one of the top-10 rated parks in the state, according to organizer and Cascadia Postmaster Ruth Powers.

Cascadia Community TV, Inc., sponsored the picnic, Powers said. Cascadia Community TV was established in the 1950s on the UHF band to rebroadcast Portland’s Channel 6 in the area.

Right now, TV is in the process of going digital, Powers said, and most people in Cascadia are using satellite TV. It isn’t practical to sink the money into it, so at a meeting, members of the organization decided not to spend the money to go digital. They chose to have a community picnic instead.

The station hasn’t been sold, Powers said, but the community is no longer using it.

Some 53 persons attended the picnic, Powers said. It was a good turnout with “wonderful food.”

Among those attending was the unofficial mayor of Cascadia, Jean Burger.

Powers made an unofficial mayor’s sign for Burger, she said. “We were going to make her go in parades, but we didn’t get it organized.”

Burger often represents the community and goes to bat for it when needed, Powers said.

Burger said people started calling her the mayor of Cascadia when Short Bridge, a covered bridge, was closed in the early 1990s for lack of funds to repair and maintain it.

She organized a local effort, and former Sen. Mae Yih was instrumental in getting the bridge reopened 14 years ago. Joined again by Yih, Burger also vocally opposed a late 1990s proposal to build a new dam at Cascadia that would have flooded and displaced the tiny community located about 10 miles east of Sweet Home on Highway 20.

Richard Munts, now a resident of the Lacomb area, and Roger Jones of Cascadia were busy looking at photos and news reports while they traded stories with Daryl Nothiger. Nothiger’s wife grew up in Cascadia, and he spent a lot of time in the community, he said.

He recalled watching people filling up rusty-looking jugs with the soda water at Cascadia State Park in the late 1960s and early 1970s before the soda spring was capped.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Cascadia State Park was a destination for travelers from across the nation seeking the supposed therapeutic effects of the water.

“It didn’t kill anybody,” Nothiger said.

“I drank a lot of it,” Munts said. “Those that drank it thought it was good for their health.”

It tasted a little bit salty, and it was carbonated, Munts said. It would fizz if shaken.

He remembers filling up jugs, he said. “We’d stick a cork in it, and it would blow before you got home. I used to ride up here just get the soda water. When I had the mumps, that was the one thing I could get down that didn’t hurt. I drank gallons of it.”

The water itself was clear, he said, but it would make the jugs used to carry it look rusty.