Klamath Junction Emerges from Drought-Stricken Emigrant Lake

Date: 

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017

Author: 

Sharon Bywater

Episode: 

3 345

The small town of Klamath Junction, or what was left of it, was reborn briefly during the drought of 2014 when the mud-caked foundations of old structures emerged from the waters of Emigrant Lake.

The lake was created in 1926 to irrigate Rogue Valley farms.  Klamath Junction grew up at a crossroads next to the lake, never amounting to much more than a few homes, a couple of gas stations, a caf√© and dancehall.  A nearby cemetery dating from the 1850s marked the original Hill family donation land claim.

Then in 1960 a new dam doubled the size of Emigrant Lake, submerging the town that was once a stopover between Ashland and Klamath Falls.  The rising water forced residents to relocate and move the cemetery to higher ground, and to change the highway route around the lake.  The original road, where it goes into the lake and re-emerges on the other side, is still visible, but the town has been submerged for more than 50 years.

During the drought, Bureau of Land Management archaeologists sifted through the ruins of Klamath Junction to see if anything of value remained, but found mostly worthless debris.

Sources: Pugh, Lance K. "Klamath Junction: Our history submerged beneath Emigrant Lake." Jefferson Monthly, Dec. 2005, pp. 8+;  Sherwood, Courtney. "Drought Exposes Once-Submerged Oregon town to Archaeological Dig." Scientific American, edited by Eric M. Johnson and Eric Walsh, Reuters, www.scientificamerican.com/article/drought-exposes-once-submerged-town-t.... Accessed 25 Nov. 2017

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