News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Niagara Water Wheel property up for sale

The Santiam Fire damaged many local landmarks in 2020, including Niagara Heights Water Wheel off Hwy. 22, east of Gates.

Known for its picturesque natural backdrop and Christmas decorations, the metal wheel itself survived the fire, but the wood cabin alongside did not, and neither did the nearby home of property owners Colby and Diana Lamb.

After nearly two years of planning next steps, the Lambs have decided to sell the property, though they hope to continue playing a role in restoring the attraction.

“We at first wanted to rebuild, but this process was taking so long and we’re not getting any younger, so we just decided to get ready to sell,” said Colby Lamb.

The Lambs bought the two-acre property in 2016 with the intent to retire to their forever home. When Lamb, a retired machinist, learned the water wheel he had admired from the highway was part of their purchase, he’d suddenly found his dream hobby.

He spent the following four years restoring the wheel, including a new axle and paint job. His work drew lots of attention, especially when the spinning wheel, cabin and surrounding area were covered in bright Christmas lights.

“I loved decorating it for Christmas and meeting people that were visiting it, photographers and so forth,” he said.

Lamb said it has been very difficult saying goodbye to such an enriching pastime, in addition to his house and a verdant, forested property. He has since purchased a home in Lebanon and will be moving there long-term.

“So now I’m kind of perplexed: How do you sell something like this, one of the most iconic things that you see at the side of the road in Oregon?” he said.

Lamb said they hope to sell to someone local who will see the value in restoring the Water Wheel. He would also be available to lend his knowledge and experience to such a restoration, as Lebanon is only about an hour away.

“I would really like to have it end up with somebody who has roots in the Canyon,” said Lamb.

He said one plan for restoration is to rebuild the cabin larger than before so it could house a small museum and interpretive center, including historic photos of the area and artwork inspired by the attraction. Lamb said, if the new owner does not object to this plan, he would love to help bring it to fruition.

He posted on Facebook June 5 that the price for the property is in the $300,000 range, though he has yet to finalize this with his Realtor.

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