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As It Was: Town of Merganser Rivals Linkville, Present-Day Klamath Falls, Ore.

By 1905, when the book titled “An Illustrated History of Central Oregon” was written, the town of Merganser was dead, lingering only in the memories of the earliest pioneers. 
There had been a time when Merganser, on the west side of the Klamath River, rivaled the Linkville community that later changed its name to Klamath Falls.

The town’s founders, J. Roberts and Albert Handy, were entrepreneurs shunned by Linkville businessmen as unwelcome competitors, so they opened their general merchandise store two miles below Linkville, and Roberts became the town’s first postmaster.

The town was known for a short time as Lakeport, but it is said that two Scotsmen suggested renaming it after the Merganser ducks they had been hunting.

As the second town founded in Klamath County, Merganser soon became a favorite trading point.  Other businesses included a harness shop, hotel, and brewery.  Merganser died in the 1880s after the Roberts and Handy store and others moved to booming Klamath Falls.

The bridge to Merganser gradually rotted, and the first steamboat to navigate the river removed the remaining debris and with it the final trace of the town’s existence.


Shaver, F A., Arthur P. Rose, R F. Steeler, and A E. Adams. An Illustrated History of Central Oregon. Spokane, Wash., Western Historical Publishing Co., 1905, p. 983.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.