THE NARROWS -- The U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon County Commission have scheduled Oct. 18 as a day local residents can visit the Narrows.
According to Jane Mobley, a man power development specialist with the Forest Service, the Narrows will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 18, weather permitting. A shuttle will be provided to assist people down the hill to the Narrows. The Narrows is located on Highway 142 east near Thayer.
The area has been gated and closed for many years to protect the area. She said those planning to make the trip are invited to bring a sack lunch. The Forest Service will provide water and restrooms for the event.
"We have been working with the Forest Service for quite some time trying to make this event a reality," said Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren. "There has been a lot of interest throughout the area about this portion of the county and we feel like the community should be able to re-visit the past and this will be a safe, organized way to do it," he said.
Mobley said there is a lot of history concerning this portion of Oregon County. "Thomasson Mill is the earliest known historic use of the area. This grist mill was present at the north end of the Narrows and is believed to have been in operation from the late 19th Century into the early 20th Century. Later, at least three early homesteads were located along the ridges and terraces," Mobley said.
In 1951, the tract was purchased by B.B. and Patricia Morgan. The Morgans used the resources provided by the springs to develop a thriving aquatic plant business. The prospect of the proposed damming of the Eleven Point River for reservoir projects in the 1950s troubled the environmentally conscious Morgans.
"In particular, the Water Valley Reservoir Project would have inundated the springs to the Narrows. The Morgans concerns led him to become influential in getting legal protection for the Eleven Point River," she said.
This resulted in the river being one of the first rivers in the country to be included in the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.