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Fish Lake Remount Depot in Oregon
Located near the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 126, at an altitude of 3200 feet, in the Willamette National Forest is Fish Lake Remount Depot. The area served as a popular stop for travelers in the late 1800’s crossing the Cascade Mountain Range via the Santiam Wagon Road. A hotel, store, saloon, barn, and blacksmith shop were built to serve these travelers. Once Highway 20 was built, it was no longer needed as a way stop and many of the original buildings are no longer standing.
In 1905, the US Forest Service began using the depot as a base and rest stop for firefighters, rangers, and their pack animals. Later it was used as a summer headquarters. Many of the log buildings built in the 1920’s are still standing today. Not far from the log buildings are wood structures built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and include a blacksmith shop, tack rooms, and a barn.
It continued to be used as a remount depot until 2005. In 2010, The Friends of Fish Lake created a non profit organization, and partnered with the Willamette National Forest to restore and protect the site. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
During the hot days of summer, it’s an interesting place to learn about the history of the area with lots of hiking nearby. In the winter, the cabins are available to rent for the night during your snow filled adventures.
Santiam National Forest Field Headquarters, built in 1921.
Built in 1924 to store tools and later served as a residence.
Built in the mid 1920’s as a summer residence for Forest Supervisor, C.C. Hall.
During summer months the cabin is closed to the public. In the winter, it can be rented for overnight stays.
Fish Lake is seasonal. During the wet months of the year the lake fills up. Then when the rains quit for the year, the fish swim upstream and the water drains underground. The meadow that remains was the perfect grazing place for horses and other pack animals in the early years of the Remount Station.
Due to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range, the surrounding area is covered in lava rock.
Camping at Fish Lake
South of the Remount Depot, along Highway 126, is an unmarked camp spot. It’s not large and there are zero services, but there’s plenty of room to park a trailer or pitch a tent and enjoy the High Cascades.
Throughout the camping area are pits edged in lava rock. As a kid, I loved playing in those pits. Now my kids enjoy the pits. Falling on those rough rocks hurts… a lot. But, that certainly doesn’t stop any kid from thinking those pits are the best place to play.
From the camp site, it’s a short walk to Fish Lake. Finding tadpoles along the water’s edge is always a favorite activity.
Whether it’s the high dessert climate of Bend or the forested area of the Cascade Mountains, central Oregon is a beautiful place to visit any time of year. As a matter of fact, I would like to start planning our next trip.
Thinking about visiting Fish Lake?
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