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For Lost Creek, the little 'd' makes sense

So what gives with you guys and the name Lost Creek dam? I saw in an article that the “D” in “dam” wasn’t capitalized, and I figured it was just a typo. Then I see it again a couple weeks ago and wonder whether that’s how you treat dams. But in the same article, I see you spelled Applegate Dam with a capital “D.” Are you just messing with us readers on purpose or is there some sort of reason for these inconsistencies?

— Matt B., email submission

Well, Matt, we at Since You Asked Central have been accused of being stupid and inconsistent more than our share of times, and we’ve discovered that, on occasion, our critics are quite right.

But this time we actually have a legitimate explanation for why Lost Creek dam is spelled with a lowercase “d.”

It’s because Lost Creek dam is not its proper name.

The upper Rogue River’s main dam officially is named the William L. Jess Dam and Intake Structure, named after an Eagle Point man who was instrumental in getting the dam built.

When since the dam was authorized by Congress in 1961 and completed in 1977, it was known as Lost Creek Dam.

When long-time U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield slipped out of Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1996, he slipped in an amendment to a bill that named the dam after Jess.

Jess was one of the founders of the Rogue Basin Association, which formed in 1956 and spearheaded the building of Lost Creek and Applegate dams, and tried to get completion of Elk Creek Dam before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers eventually pulled the plug on it and notched it in 2007.

Jess died in 1995, at the age of 77.

At the time of the name change, Hatfield’s press officials said the senator knew people would probably still call it Lost Creek Dam, but he hoped the public would give it a shot.

But it didn’t stick among the public.

William L. Jess Dam and Intake Structure didn’t quite roll off the tongue, and it took up too much space in news articles, and every time the name came up it needed a paragraph describing that it actually was the old Lost Creek Dam.

For brevity and clarity, MT editors decided to stick with Lost Creek, but go with the little “d” in dam so as not to imply that’s the formal name.

A similar amendment changed the name of the Bureau of Land Management’s Rand Visitors Center in Rand after William B. Smullin, the Medford man who introduced commercial radio, television and cable TV to Southern Oregon and Northern California. That was a much easier name transition to Smullin Visitors Center.

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 youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.