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Cedar Mill News
Volume 2, Issue 6


June 2004

History in the News

Lost Park provided summer fun in old Cedar Mill

The swimming tank at Lost Park, c. 1927 (photo courtesy of Lois Reeves Jordan)

Around 1923, Cedar Mill became the location of a popular recreation spot known as Lost Park. Nestled in 150 acres of forest between NW Cornell and Damascus roads, from 113th to 107th avenues, the park was a regular gathering place and provided the area with a variety of recreation. On warm afternoons, residents living nearby met there for entertainment, and later as its reputation grew, many Portlanders would motor out to spend the day at Lost Park.

The park originated as a summer activity for Cedar Mill pioneer descendant Frank Hall Reeves and his family. Reeves built several large plank-and-cable swings for his three children and their friends, and also dug a swimming hole in Cedar Mill Creek which he called Alder Brook. The water maintained a 45 degree temperature throughout the summer. For his wife, Winnifred, and her friends, Reeves provided stone stoves with sheet metal tops.

Lois Reeves Jordan recalled that her father once designed a “wiggle-woggle,” or a suspended pole used as a balance beam. Reeves offered $5.00 to anyone who could walk the length of the log but when local children grew proficient at treading the pole, Reeves quickly withdrew the offer.

By 1926, the park’s popularity prompted Reeves to open the attraction to the public. He improved the facilities to include a large picnic area, stoves, swimming pool, two baseball fields, horseshoe pits, swings and other children ’s play equipment.

According to a handbill, the park boasted, “a commodious swimming tank, supplied with clear sparkling water from Alder Brook and numerous springs.” The tank was paved on the long sloping sides but not on the bottom so when too many swimmers were in the pool it was apt to become muddy. Adjacent to the tank were rough lumber dressing rooms (rumored to contain a lot of knot holes!).

Long shady trails named Alder Lane, the Loop and Lover’s Lane were designed for hikers who wished to escape to the forest. The wooded portion of the park was also designated as a wildlife preserve with a variety of birds and squirrels fed by park employees, while Cedar Mill Creek held an abundant supply of crawfish.

The northeast corner of the park contained “Mazama Lake,” constructed and named in honor of the Portland outdoor organization, the Mazama Club. In the spring of 1926 the Mazamas sponsored an excursion to the area described in the club records: “Leave Fourth and Stark Streets on Southern Pacific Train at 7:50am. Buy one way ticket to Beaverton. Hike over Canyon and Barnes Roads covering many fields and trails to Cedar Mill. Stop for lunch in the playgrounds of the New Lost Park. After lunch travel on Barnes Road to top of hill and the home stretch by way of trails and woods, arriving at 16th and Jefferson Streets. Fare, 40 cents, Distance about 10 miles. ”

Although Reeves lived in Portland, he maintained the park from his summer home on the property. The three Reeves children and their mother accompanied him to Cedar Mill to spend their summer vacations. Reeves believed in keeping the children occupied with various duties at the park. Lois collected the 25¢ admission charge, Gordon worked at the concession stand and Irma served as lifeguard.

When the Depression of the 1930’s reached its peak, people could no longer afford the time or the cost of recreation. As a result, Frank Reeves and his brother Burton subdivided the property. Lots and partially constructed homes were sold for $1,000 - ten dollars down and ten dollars month, which provided a housing solution in the depressed economy.




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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
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Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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