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

What would you bring back to the Canyon?

Contributing writer for The Canyon Weekly

A simple question opened a lengthy conversation among Santiam Canyon residents: “If you could bring back one thing that was once in your Santiam Canyon town, what would it be and which town?”

“I’m always pleased and a bit surprised when several folks reply to a post,” said Barbara Sanders, administrator of the Santiam Canyon Wish List, one of three pages she oversees on Facebook. “So much has been taken away from the Santiam Canyon residents, not only due to the 2020 fires, but also due to poor business decisions and even poor management by government entities.”

Sanders lived eight years in Mill City prior to the 2020 wildfires that forced her to move from her apartment to live with her son in West Salem. She travels up the Canyon several times a week, helping people wherever and whenever she can.

Her one thing to bring back to Mill City is herself, if and when the opportunity arises. 

“I try to visit the Canyon several times each week,” she said. “I hope to move back to Mill City someday.”

Meanwhile, she cultivates Facebook communication through The Canyon Closet and the Upper Santiam Canyon Homeless Needs as well as the Santiam Canyon Wish List. 

“I love giving everyone a voice and, even though it puts me at odds with some of my neighbors, I feel it is still important enough to shrug off the consequences, such as being banned from some community sites,” Sanders said of her Facebook presence. “Unless folks are rude, or vulgar nothing is censored.”

Many of the answers to Sanders’ question centered around place and businesses, some long gone. 

Cindy Lockrem Shinn brought up Snookie’s, a drive-in first opened in Gates in the late ‘60s.

“Then they moved to Papa Al’s in the ‘70s,” said Carol Cree, joining in the conversation.

Ernie Brosig told Shinn, “Someone else remembers Snookie’s. I was just a little kid when they closed.”

Ashton Johnson would like to bring back the access to Buck Lake in Gates, closed after the wildfires.

“Buck Lake … good one,” said Charene Ziebert. “Some darn good memories there.”

Karen Carter, Cindy Mudrick and Holly Hemphill miss the pharmacy in Mill City. Margaret Harris misses Kelly’s Lumber.

“We really could use an update to our little park, a new structure for the kids to play on,” Chelsea De Vos posted.

Carol Cree talked about Baker’s Jewelry store, located between the old US Bank and the hardware store in Mill City.

“When Baker’s went out of business, the bank added that space to their business,” she said. “That would be the building being remodeled/upgraded to become a hotel.”

She told Sanders, “I think everyone my age would also say Muir’s Bakery! Oh, the donuts, the garlic bread! And ice cream! First it was on Broadway, then across the street from the tennis court. Across from the new junior/senior high school.” 

A bakery was high on Emily Scofield’s and Sander’s list of bring-backs as well.

Gene’s Meat Market, lost to the flames that razed the Santiam Canyon over Labor Day two years ago, was a big thumbs up. 

Other wants: the Gates swimming pool, The Malt Shop in Mill City, a safe walking trail to Mill City from Gates, Fisherman’s Bend to reopen, Stewart’s Grocery, opening the gate from Gates over the ridge to North Fork, and Riley’s Tavern in Gates.

“Ernie Brosig, I remember you and dad taking me there once during the day before it was open and getting a root beer,” shared Rebecca Davis. “Personally, I’ve only known it as the Sierra Mexican Restaurant.”

Yearning for the past, however, doesn’t cover up the reality most Canyon residents are still facing, and when it comes right down to it, many and are working toward bringing back the same thing.

“My home,” said Colleen Samuel. 

Her simple “bring-back” garnered the most reactions and many emotions, bringing a rather solemn end to the conversation. 

Comments are still welcome and to post one, go to the Santiam Canyon Wish List page on Facebook.


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