Friday, August 8, 2014

City Council, July 11th - Badger, Badger

In the middle of the last century as Salem was developing on the east side of Lancaster, the area around Swegle School was known as Badger Corner.

1957 USGS map

1939 USGS map - not attested
While the project to straighten out the 90-degree elbows that connected Market Street and Swegle Road has plenty of autoist problems, too much "forgiveness" for drivers and not enough calming for kids and people on foot, a remnant cul-de-sac is proposed now to be renamed "Badger Corner," in honor of the historic name.

And that's a sweet note on which to start this week's Council round-up.

Local names are frequent here. USGS maps don't attest to the Badger Corner name in 1925 or 1939, but by a 1957 map it had secured traction. It lingers on the google today. Like Four Corners and the mostly lost Mitchell Corner, the name seems to have marked an intersection on Lancaster. Perhaps even more interesting are the old train stops on the Geer Line: Gesner on Lancaster, and Lachmund out near where Cordon Road is today. Louis Lachmund was a hopsman, Mayor of Salem, and maybe even a scoundrel, one who put the kibosh on the first attempt to shift Salem drinking water from the polluted Willamette to "sweet mountain water," as Portland had earlier done with the Bull Run watershed.

There's lots of great local history here in the place names, and it's a terrific idea to recover an old, mostly forgotten one.

In other good news there's an information report on Sunday Streets, and in it is the prospect of doing two of them next year.

Though some will see it as a sign of conspiracy, here we see it as a sign of sanity: Council is requesting a report on the state of "free parking" downtown and notes that in a preliminary way there seem to be lots of problems with the policy for free, unlimited parking downtown. Unsurprisingly, it's just not working (and elsewhere).

Roads and alleys to vacate at Blind School
Not so happy is the final decision on Howard Hall. Interestingly, coincident with this is a proposal to vacate a bunch of alleys and street rights-of-way on the Blind School property. It seems like that might have offered some leverage in negotiating a better outcome for Howard Hall. Also interesting is the way these rights-of-way are necessary for the parking overage the Hospital wants. So maybe the timing on this is a little suspect. (There might be more to say in an update.)


Susann Kaltwasser said...

When I came up with the idea of Badger Corner as the name for the new street created by the Market/Swegle realignment, it was based on just a little bit of information that I saw on an old plat map for the area. Then I started to do a bit of digging and found out a lot of interesting information, but unfortunately not as much as I would have hoped.

A neighbor told me that there was a woman who lived in the area for over 50 years and had lots of pictures, but unfortunately she died and no one knows what happened to those pictures. Several other people from the area who moved there for that long or longer, have passed as well.

This is a reminder that it is up to us, to gather and record local history, because it appears that a lot of very important information gets lost.

Like I learned that there were a number of small communities that got swallowed up by Salem over the last 100 years. We know them only by school or street names. There was Sunnyside, Liberty, Hazel Green, Hayesville, Middle Grove to name a few. These communities were similar to existing communities like Pratum and Fruitland.

I am going to see if I can do a bit more research and find some of those old pictures. I encouage others to see if they can do the same in their neighborhoods!

Anonymous said...

"Oregon Geographic Names" doesn't appear to have an entry for Badger Corner, so no help from there, sadly.