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As It Was: There’s no plug to pull in Drain

Folks say Western Oregon is so wet it needs more than rivers to carry off the water — it needs a drain. As a matter of fact, Oregon has one.

Midway between Washington and California, halfway between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean lies Oregon’s Drain, a city of just under 1,200 residents. Drain is nestled in a valley, surrounded by hills, and strategically situated at the confluence of Pass and Elk creeks.

Actually, the town didn’t get its name based on geology or geography, but rather because Charles C. Drain owned the land. In 1872, Drain platted and sold 60 acres to the Oregon-California Railroad for one dollar. The railroad was built the following year.

The town incorporated in 1888, and the founder’s son John C. Drain served as the city’s first mayor.

Motorists reach Drain by taking the Highway 99 loop off Interstate 5 at Exits 150 or 162. At Drain the road links to Highway 38, which meanders alongside the Umpqua River to Reedsport on the Oregon Coast.

Rivers may be swollen in the rainy season, but there’s no plug to pull in Drain, Oregon.

Sources: Beckham, Stephen Dow. Land of the Umpqua: A History of Douglas Count, Oregon Commissioners of Douglas County Oregon, Roseburg, Ore. 1986; McArthur, Lewis A. Oregon Geographical Names. Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Ore. 1974; Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer. DeLorme Mapping, Freeport, Maine 1991; Internet: http://www.drainoregon.org/history.htm.

As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Southern Oregon Historical Society photo, image No. 31384Main Street in Drain, Oregon, before paving. Date unknown.