How did Klamath Falls get its name? Is there a falls there now?

How did Klamath Falls get its name? Is there a falls there now?

— Gladys M., Medford

There once was a falls-like rapids there, but it is long gone, Gladys.

We know this because we checked our sources, including the Oregon Geographic Names book and the wife of a SYA staffer who just happens to have been born in what locals call "K Falls."

Back when the community was founded in 1867 by a fellow named George Nurse, it was situated on the edge of a falls along the Link River. This little river linked Upper Klamath Lake to the lower lake.

The hamlet was originally named Linkville, but city leaders decided in 1893 to change the name to Klamath Falls. The waterfall was really a series of rapids as opposed to an actual cascade.

In 1921, a hydroelectric project was built at the site, effectively eliminating the "falls."

Incidentally, the Klamath Indian name for the rapids in the river was Tiwishkeni, meaning "rush-of-falling-waters place."

There is now a 1.3-mile hiking trail maintained by PacifiCorp along the Link River that is a popular local attraction.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.