DETROIT, ORE. — On Oct. 29, Marion Sheriff Deputy Dave Zahn went to Detroit Lake to take pictures of Old Detroit, the 200-person town abandoned and flooded in the 1950s after the Detroit Dam was built.
Every fall and winter, the remains appear again when the water levels drop. This fall, however, Zahn saw even more than he expected.
The lowest water levels in 46 years revealed secrets of the old town’s past, including a 19th-century utility wagon, perfectly preserved beneath the water’s surface.
Kathy Snyder, who has lived in Detroit most of her life and owns KC’s Restaurant, said she’s never seen the lake that low.
“There were places that you could see, even driving by, that you could never see before,” Snyder said.
The wagon looked so perfect, many people in town didn’t believe it was real.
“They said it was a hoax,” Snyder said. “They thought it couldn’t have been there all this time and nobody saw it. But they didn’t realize — yeah, it could have, because the water wasn’t that low before.”
Mother Nature made the discovery possible. The lack of snow last winter meant the lake drained 143 feet below capacity over the summer.
“Even in the winter, when it’s at its lowest, it was never this low,” Snyder said.
Now the water levels have risen again, hiding its secrets below the water once more.