This is one of of those places that locals know about, and not many others.
Niagara County Park is located in Marion County, and is one of the area’s most popular recreation spots. It claims about 30 acres, a slice of the North Santiam River, waterfalls, a unique history, a bounty of swimming spots and a gorgeously forested riverbank. It’s roughly forty miles from Salem on Santiam Highway, seven miles east of Mill City.
From an historical angle, the park is best known for being the site of a failed masonry hydroelectric dam. Right in the historic town of Niagara around the turn of the 20th century, this dam was intended to power a straw-to-paper mill. Issues with flooding, erosion, and construction difficulties brought the project to a halt in 1912.
Today visitors enjoy the natural aspects of the park, as well as the history. Explore the narrow basalt chasm and outcropping at the west end of the park, but swimming in this section of the river is forbidden due to safety reasons. However, swimming is permitted in the central and eastern parts during the summer, where huge, level slabs of rock are perfect for post-soak sunbathing.
The park is open from May 1 – Oct. 31, and includes amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking water. Parts of the park are ADA accessible, and there are several hiking trails in the area.
No camping is permitted, with park hours set between 8 a.m. and sunset.