A walk along Cottage Grove’s Row River Trail can be much more than a simple stroll — it can provide glimpses into our local history (both recent and past) as well as our local, native wildlife.
The trail makes an excellent day trip excursion for people from out-of-town. And, at the same time, as a local who has been walking its paths for years, I am still occasionally delighted to discover something new about the trail and about Cottage Grove. It has many stories and over the course of the next several months, I will explore many of the unique, fun, historic, and practical aspects of the Row River Trail. I welcome your thoughts, experiences, and input so that we can create a comprehensive guide about this trail together.
The best place to begin would probably be the beginning of the trial – historically that would be in its roots as a railroad line, the Oregon and South Eastern, also called the “Old Slow and Easy.” Originally built in 1902, the rail helped to connect downtown Cottage Grove with the gold mines up at Bohemia. The railroad ran to the junction of the Row River and Sharps Creek and from there freight wagons took over. When production at the mines began to slump, the rail hauled timber and supplies, as well as passengers, into this important corridor.
Physically, the beginning of the trail would be Trailhead Park. Personally, I had only been to Trailhead Park once and that was quite some time ago. So I recently visited the Park and rode my bike out to Mosby Creek (a distance of 3 miles one way). Frankly, I was expecting a rather boring ride through the center of town and paralleling Mosby Creek Road. Happily, I was wrong.
The first thing I did while in Trailhead Park was explore Cottage Grove’s own wigwam burner – yes, we still have one, though since it is constructed of poured concrete (and not metal) and relatively small, I think many people overlook it. This wigwam burner was built in 1923 and used as part of the Cottage Grove Manufacturing Plant. It is listed in Oregon’s Historic Sites Database.
Next I was treated to an unexpected surprise, a nicely preserved railroad car sitting on City property, beside the Trail right behind the Safeway grocery store.
The Trial took me through the heart of Cottage Grove much quicker than I thought it would and in no time, I was riding parallel to Mosby Creek Road watching lambs in the pastures and admiring the snow up at Bohemia mines. Traffic was sparse along Mosby Creek Road so I barely noticed it.
I knew I was reaching my destination when I caught a glimpse of the Mosby Creek Covered Bridge through the leafless trees – a sight only available from the path in the winter.
Practical Notes: Trailhead park is located on East Main Street just west of the railroad tracks. The best parking — especially if you are off-loading bicycles — is at the new Bohemia Park a block away on South 10th Street.