Oswego Lake is a man-made lake located in Clackamas County, Oregon. It is about 12 miles from downtown Portland, and it can be accessed via Interstate 205 or by following the Historic Columbia River Highway 19 from Troutdale.
Several fish species can be caught here. Among them, there’s steelhead trout, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill sunfish, to name a few. The best time to go on a fishing trip is during the winter and early spring.
There are several marinas around Oswego Lake where you can rent a boat or buy fishing rods, bait, etc… If you don’t have your equipment with you, there’s no need to worry as most places also sell them.
Oswego Lake has its fair share of beaches, and they make for a great place to relax and take in the views. The sand is white, and the water is crystal clear, making it a perfect spot to spend a summer day.
If you’re looking for something else to do, there’s also an 18-hole golf course located on the lake’s shores. It’s open all year round and easily accessible by car.
Overall, Oswego Lake is a great place to visit if you want to spend some time outdoors while exploring Clackamas County. It has something for everyone regardless of age or interest, so make sure to add it to your list!
History of Oswego Lake
The construction of the Oswego Dam created the lake in 1906-1907 by the Portland General Electric Company (PGE). The dam was initially built to provide electricity for PGE’s new aluminum smelter in Troutdale in 1907.
Oswego Lake has a long and exciting history. It was initially called “Lake Cavanaugh” and was named for William L. Cavanaugh, the president of PGE, from 1906 to 1911.
In 1948, the lake was renamed “Oswego Lake” in honor of the Oswego Falls Hydroelectric Project, completed a few years earlier.
The Oswego Falls Project was a major hydroelectric project involving three dams on the Clackamas River, including the Oswego Dam. The project was completed in 1945, and it provided much-needed electricity for the growing city of Portland.
Today, Oswego Lake is managed by the Clackamas County Water District, and it’s used primarily for recreation.
Facts About Oswego Lake
-The surface area of Oswego Lake is 344 acres
-The maximum depth of the lake is 75 feet
-The average depth of the lake is 20 feet
-The lake was created in the 1920s, and it is used for recreational purposes, such as boating and fishing.
Things to Do at Oswego Lake
Oswego Lake is a great place to spend time outdoors, and there are plenty of activities you can do while visiting this beautiful lake:
Go fishing – Oswego Lake has many fish species, including steelhead trout, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill sunfish.
Go swimming – There are several beaches around Oswego Lake where you can swim, sunbathe and relax.
Play golf – There’s an 18-hole golf course located on the lake’s shores, and it is open all year round.
Camping – There are several campgrounds around Oswego Lake where you can stay overnight, such as Oak Grove Campground or Estacada Lake SRA Campground, among others.
Rent a boat or buy fishing rods – Most places that rent boats also sell fishing rods, bait, etc., so you don’t need to worry if you don’t have your equipment with you.
Hiking – Several hiking trails around Oswego Lake offer great views of the lake and its surroundings.
Things Not to Do at Oswego Lake
Oswego Lake can be a great place to spend some time outdoors while visiting Portland. Still, you should always follow its rules and regulations to have an enjoyable experience that everyone will remember.
- Swim near the dam – The water level in Oswego Lake changes throughout the year, and it can become dangerous near/around the dam.
- Park your car on private property – Many signs around Oswego Lake prohibit people from parking their cars on private property, so make sure to follow them, or you may get a ticket.
- Drink and drive – There’s a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving in Oregon, so make sure to plan if you plan on having a few drinks while at the lake.
What to See at Oswego Lake
In addition to its outstanding recreational opportunities, Oswego Lake also has some interesting sights that are worth checking out:
The Oswego Falls – These falls are located on the Clackamas River, and they can be seen from several places around Oswego Lake.
The old dam – The original dam was built in 1907, and it’s a great place to take photos or admire the engineering feat that created Oswego Lake.
The old power plant – The old power plant is located next to the dam and it’s now used as an event center. It’s open for tours on Saturdays from April through October.
The “castle” – There are several homes around Oswego Lake that are referred to as “the castle” because of their unique architecture.
The covered bridge – There’s a covered bridge located on the west side of Oswego Lake, built-in 1936. It connects Oak Grove with Springwater Township, just south of Estacada.
The wildlife – Oswego Lake is a great place to see deer, elk, bald eagles, and other wildlife.
Activities and Events at Oswego Lake
In addition to the activities and sights mentioned above, several events take place at Oswego Lake throughout the year:
The Oswego Lake Run – This is a half marathon and relay race in May.
The Oregon Renaissance Faire – This event is held every fall on the grounds of the old power plant.
The Clackamas County Fair – This fair is held every summer, and it features animal shows, horse racing, among other things.
The Oswego Lake Triathlon – This triathlon takes place in July, and it’s a great way to enjoy the lake while being active.
The Oregon Brewers Festival – This festival is held every summer, and it features craft beers from over 30 breweries.
The Oswego Lake Holiday Tree Lighting – This tree lighting ceremony takes place in December, and it’s a great way to enjoy the holiday season while being outdoors.
Oswego Lake is a great place to visit if you want to spend some time outdoors while exploring Clackamas County. It has something for everyone regardless of age or interest, so make sure to add it to your list!
How to Get to Oswego Lake
Oswego Lake is located in Clackamas County, Oregon, and it’s easy to get to from the Portland area.
From Portland – Take I-205 south to exit 12 (Damascus) and then take OR-224 east for about 15 miles. Oswego Lake will be on your left.
From Salem – Take I-205 north to exit 12 (Damascus) and then take OR-224 east for about 15 miles. Oswego Lake will be on your left.
From Estacada – Take OR-224 west for about 15 miles. Oswego Lake will be on your right just before you reach Damascus.
Address: 45500 SE Lake Rd Damascus, OR 97089
Phone Number: 503-658-5731
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