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Finding the story of Milo McIver State Park

McIver park staff needs help in search for clues about park's history
by:  This old photo from the Oregon State Highway  Department offers a view toward the southeast, where the area on the right of the Clackamas River was set aside for Clackamas County’s first state park, along the south bank of the river.

We have a history mystery at Milo McIver State Park. We have the names of the property owners who sold their land to the Oregon Department of Transportation, but we do not know the history of our land. We are hoping that the readers of The Estacada News can help us.

Do you know stories about McIver State Park's past? Did you camp or hike at the park in its early years? Do you know the people who used to own the land? Was the land logged or farmed before it was a state park? If you have any photos of the property before or since it became a state park we would love to see them.

The story that we know starts with the purchase of 847 acres of large, level grassy areas and tree-covered slopes in Estacada in 1966. The property was sold to the State Highway Commission by Barney and Helen Lucas.

The former owners had cleared and graded much of land in preparation for its development as a golf course and residential subdivision. The state constructed roads, day-use facilities, and a scenic viewpoint, and opened the park to the public in 1968.

Picnicking, bank fishing and scenic views were the park's initial attractions. Later improvements included hiking and equestrian trails, a full-service campground, a 27-hole disc golf course and boat ramps to provide easy river access.

The park was dedicated in honor of Milo K. McIver in June 1968. McIver was a long-time supporter of parks and natural areas and he served 12 years on the Oregon State Highway Commission, from 1950 to 1962.

During McIver's term, 42 new state parks and waysides were acquired and attendance at Oregon's state parks increased 240 percent.

He was 'devoted to making Oregon's highway and park system one of the finest in the nation.'

McIver actually initiated the creation of Milo McIver State Park by requesting a review of land along the Clackamas River in 1961, assessing possible locations for a state park.

Two more parcels of land have been acquired since the park opened. The State Highway Commission added a little over 90 acres to the park's southwest corner in 1975 when it purchased Mabel T. Winston's homesite from her estate. The final addition to Milo McIver State Park was a gift of 14 acres from Grant Schiewe in 1987.

Another park story is Vortex I, a state-sanctioned rock festival held in the summer of 1970 at McIver. Nearly 40,000 people are thought to have attended the festival, but no major incidents were reported and the park reopened to the public four days after the event ended.

Gov. Tom McCall supported the festival and used it to draw young people away from Portland in an attempt to reduce the chance of violent conflict in the city during an American Legion convention being held during that same week.

For the last decade or so, Milo McIver State Park has been a peaceful anytime getaway right in Estacada's backyard. Visitors can spend the day or spend the night and relax, explore and discover their state park.