Salem, OR—POLK COUNTY, Ore. – Oregon’s first state park, Sarah Helmick Sate Recreation Site, has been accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. Located on the banks of the Luckiamute River near Monmouth, Oregon, the park’s 1924 opening is considered the start of the Oregon State Parks system that today comprises 254 state parks and more than 100,000 acres.
In 1922, the Helmicks donated 5.46 acres of their family homestead to the Oregon State Highway Commission so travelers could stop to rest. Today the park comprises 81.72 acres, of which about 15 are open to visitor use. While modifications have been made over the years to improve visitors’ experience — including the addition of picnic tables, restrooms, parking and a road through the park — the location, setting and feel of the historic property remain intact. One of the early features of the park that has been preserved is the unpaved footpath leading to the bank of the Luckiamute River, a feature also contributing to the park’s historical integrity.
This year’s addition to the National Register is especially meaningful in light of Oregon State Parks’ yearlong centennial celebration.
“In 2022 we celebrate the places Oregonians hold dear: the viewpoints, the waterfalls, the trails, and the historic landmarks,” said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “The Helmick donation became our first park, so it is fitting that we officially recognize its status by adding it to the National Register.”
The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. More information about the National Register and recent Oregon listings are online at oregonheritage.org (listed under “Designate”).
Properties listed in the National Register are:
• Recognized as significant to the nation, state, or community;
• Considered in the planning of federal or federally-assisted projects;
• Eligible for federal and state tax benefits;
• Qualify for historic preservation grants when funds are available;
• Eligible for leniency in meeting certain building code requirements;
• Subject to local laws pertaining to the conservation and protection of historic resources.
National Register listing does not place any restrictions on a property at the state or federal level, unless property owners choose to participate in tax benefit or grant programs.