Sherman, an early settlement in Sisters Country, is an unincorporated
town situated in Jefferson County. By road it is closer to Deschutes
Country and Sisters. The country seat in Madras, is 60 miles
away by road while only 26 miles over the mountains. At one time,
a rough county road lead to Madras. By 1927 the new Metolius
River Market Road allowed more direct travel between Sisters
and Camp Sherman. This road became Highway 20.
Cabins nestled amid tall pines,
idyllic and rustic resorts, the Metolius River bubbling and spilling
over its rocky bed—the
water so clear it leaves little to the imagination, a lush mix
of desert, alpine, and riparian vegetation, and the Camp Sherman
Store—these things could be said to characterize Camp Sherman.
With double the rainfall of the high desert to the east, Camp Sherman
provides an oasis in the high desert of Sisters Country. The vegetation
mix is due to rainfall near the level of Portland and Salem, many
springs and seeps, and the river itself. While summers are hot,
the valley is refreshing; but fog and drizzle can persist during
winter months, when to the east, the sun shines. The residents,
while perhaps overrun by tourists in summer, have always maintained
a sense of community and appreciation of the area’s natural
beauty. In the early days, youngsters followed community dances
by a nighttime trek up Black Butte to watch the sunrise.
The Metolius valley attracted
both settlers and tourists. By 1881 five homesteading families
were on the upper Metolius: Mitchell Arnold, at the headwaters
of the Metolius; Robert Hoover, at the south fork of Lake Creek;
William Smith, on Spring Creek; Joseph Davis; and John Bamford,
on Jack Creek and the trail to Warm Springs Agency. David and
Margaret Allingham settled on the river downstream from Camp
Sherman in 1885. Gardens, corrals, and barns were built next
to small homes. In 1893 however, President Glover Cleveland,
created the Cascade Forest Reserve, ending the homestead era
on the Metolius.
Resorts were an early feature
in the valley. The Heising bought land in 1908 and began the
first resort on the Metolius. By 1914 the area was known for
its beauty, fishing, and healthy living. Tourists came to visit
and bought land. In 1916, the US Forest Service began leasing
lands along the Metolius River for summer homes. A trail along
the river preserved the riverfront for tourists and management
guidelines help preserve a rustic, natural feel of the area.
The Hansen’s resort started in 1921 with tents
and then in 1924 they built cabins and, to make a swimming hole,
dammed the creek. The dam blocked passage of sockeye salmon to
the upper reaches of the Metolius. Hansen’s had horses and
then built a five-hole golf course. In 1935 Hanson’s became
Lake Creek Lodge resort, which is still in operation. The House
on the Metolius, another landmark, was started by Eleanor Bechen
in the 1940s.
The store and gas station in
Camp Sherman has been a central feature since before 1917 when
Dick Fuller began selling merchandise from a canvas tent. In
1917 Frank Leithauser built a wooden structure which Ross Ornduff
replaced with the present store in 1922. He brought goods and
mail from Sisters. Beginning in 1925 Rod and Evelyn Foster operated
the store and gas station. Over the years, owners have retained
the old-time feel of the store, which retains the old dry goods
store feel with an inventory of food, fishing supplies, household
goods, and souvenirs.
The Camp Sherman area has been
shaped by public works projects. For nearly a decade starting
in 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp along the Metolius
housed workers who built roads, removed timber, strung telephone
wires, and improved the forest camp at Suttle Lake. They also
worked on developing the campgrounds along the Metolius and part
of the cultural landscape they created remains today.
A large fish hatchery started
by the State Game Commissions and now run by Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife lies a few miles downriver from Camp Sherman.
In people’s imagination for
decades, Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery was finally built in the 1940s.
It has been drawing hundreds or thousands of people each summer
to see rainbow, Eastern brook, and German brown trout. Today kokanee,
and Atlantic salmon are cultivated that eventually will be transferred
to the lakes and streams in an effort to return salmon to Central