First Forest Service “Developed” Campground Turns 100

by Wendy on July 19, 2016

by: News Crew (

CASCADE LOCKS, OR— The first developed campground on public lands in the United States turns 100 this month.

Eagle Creek Campground opened to the public in July 1916. (Historic Photos)


Eagle Creek Campground Information Station

The campground is now part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The waterfall-rich Eagle Creek Trail departs from the south end of the area en route to Punchbowl Falls and other scenic cascades along Eagle Creek.

“Our research has confirmed that Eagle Creek was the first Forest Service “developed” campground (aka not just an impromptu “dispersed” camp) in the United States,” Rachel Pawlitz with the USDA Forest Service explaind. “We define that by some key elements that Forest Service specifically put in place for visitors, including the first flush toilet in the Forest Service (then known as a “comfort station”), parking areas, picnic tables, fireplace/cookstoves, a trail and trail register, and a ranger station with the first resident ranger at a campground. These were developed at the urging of Portland’s civic leaders, in conjunction with the Historic Columbia River Highway to provide recreational experiences to visitors.”


Eagle Creek Campsite

The National Park Service wasn’t created until later in the year 1916. The Bureau of Land Management did not come into existence until 1946.

“We have not found any specific evidence of developed campgrounds on National Parks that predate this, although there is a Forest Service thesis that mentions the use of ‘campgrounds’ at Yellowstone,” Pawlitz explained. “We were delighted when we finally realized what a historic treasure we have in the Scenic Area.”

To visit Eagle Creek, travel east on Interstate 84 from Portland to exit 41, just past the interstate tunnel. Take a right at the end of the off ramp and follow the signs to Eagle Creek Campground. The campground is located south of Eagle Creek Overlook Group Campground.


To read the original article, go to First Forest Service “Developed” Campground Turns 100
photos courtesy of US Forest Service

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