Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Clayton Cameron and his son, Noah, make their way over the exposed rocks in the Little Luckimute River above the falls Thursday. The pair had just jumped off the north side.
September 17, 2013
FALLS CITY -- After more than five years of restricted access, Falls City residents are celebrating the full return of their "backyard swimming pool."
With closing of the sale of property on the north side of the falls on the Little Luckiamute River in Falls City to the Falls City Alliance last week, locals wasted no time getting back to doing what they've been doing for generations.
"I've been using the falls all my life," said Falls City resident Clayton Cameron.
He and his son, Noah, visited the falls last week taking the time-honored plunge from the north side.
"He has just started jumping in this year," Cameron said of Noah, "but it's great to pass it on to the next generation."
The Falls City Alliance was formed in 2010 for the specific purpose of reopening that side of the falls to the public.
"There is a lot of pride involved because it proves people can get stuff done if they stick with it," Janelle Anzalone, the alliance spokeswoman, said after the sale closed. "We always knew we would get there. We had so much support and the law was too strong behind it. The law was on our side."
That law is "adverse possession," a legal concept asserting if a piece of land is under a certain public use for an extended period of time, that use can continue regardless of ownership. The former owner disagreed, shutting down access in 2008 after buying the property.
Falls City resident Stephen Reynolds, who called the falls "our backyard swimming pool," said the years the north side was closed were difficult.
"A lot of us had the cops called on us, so we had to stay on this (south) side for a while, which caused a lot of problems for the swimmers because they can't climb up this side," he said. "It's too steep. A lot of people just stopped swimming and stopped even coming to the falls."
Reynolds spent time with friends last week at the city park on the south side, but said he was glad to know that use of the entire falls is legal.
"The local area people love having the whole area back," he said. "It is what makes Falls City, Falls City."
The alliance is turning its attention to paying for the sale. It borrowed $133,000 from Falls City's revolving loan and has 30 years to pay it back. Anzalone said the hope is to secure a grant to help pay for the loan. She added the alliance has plans to create a north side park and install a disabled access viewing area.
"People are pretty excited about it," Anzalone said. "A lot of people are going right back up there. It's pretty cool. The alliance thanks everybody who supported us and we hope to see them at the falls."