• Old Detroit as the settlement existed until 1952
• Lake and state park are the major recreation resources offering year-round activities
The State of Oregon has, in fact, two areas bearing the name of Detroit. One is located in Marion County, on Route 22, 51 miles east of Salem, with an elevation of around 1,700 feet above sea level. The other one is located approximately 0.5 miles southeast of the first one… below the water level.
The settlement was originally known as “Coe”. In 1891, Coe had enough residents to necessitate a Post Office. The name, however, was too similar to the town of Cove in Eastern Oregon, so the Post Office was opened under the name of Detroit. The name was chosen because of the significant number of residents from Michigan living in that area. The population of the town amounted to 53 residents in 1907.
Detroit, or Old Detroit, as the settlement is often referred to today, existed until 1952.
In 1938, the US Congress authorized the 463-foot-high and 1,523-foot-long Detroit Dam to provide flood control, hydroelectricity, and irrigation. After the delay caused by World War II, the Army Corps of Engineers began clearing over 3,000 acres of land for the dam's reservoir. That included the town.
The community had been moved to higher grounds by 1952. The present iconic Cedars Restaurant and Lounge are actually one of the buildings moved to the new location on sleds. After the Dam went operational in 1953, the North Santiam River turned into a 9-mile-long reservoir drowning Old Detroit. This reservoir is currently known as Detroit Lake. When the water levels in the lake drop, remnants of the old town emerge.
The population of New Detroit was 202 according to the 2010 census. The economy of the city is heavily dependent on tourism, especially after the area’s timber industry declined in the 1990s.
Nowadays, Detroit Lake and state park are major recreation resources in Western Oregon offering year-round activities, such as fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, snow skiing, camping, hiking, snowboarding, hot springs, and many others.
The most massive and devastating in the state's history, 2020 wildfires burned over millions of acres of land, killed 11 people, and totally destroyed four cities including Detroit, Gates, Talent, and Phoenix. Most of the structures of Detroit except the post office and grocery store were burned to the ground by the Santiam Fire.
Before the fire of September 9, 2020
After the fire of September 9, 2020
Directions to Detroit
- Take exit 253 for OR-22 Santiam Highway East
- Drive 50 miles on Highway 22.