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As It Was: Klamath Junction Emerges from Drought-Stricken Emigrant Lake

The small town of Klamath Junction, or what was left of it, was reborn briefly during the drought of 2014 when the mud-caked foundations of old structures emerged from the waters of Emigrant Lake.
The lake was created in 1926 to irrigate Rogue Valley farms.  Klamath Junction grew up at a crossroads next to the lake, never amounting to much more than a few homes, a couple of gas stations, a café and dancehall.  A nearby cemetery dating from the 1850s marked the original Hill family donation land claim.

Then in 1960 a new dam doubled the size of Emigrant Lake, submerging the town that was once a stopover between Ashland and Klamath Falls.  The rising water forced residents to relocate and move the cemetery to higher ground, and to change the highway route around the lake.  The original road, where it goes into the lake and re-emerges on the other side, is still visible, but the town has been submerged for more than 50 years.

During the drought, Bureau of Land Management archaeologists sifted through the ruins of Klamath Junction to see if anything of value remained, but found mostly worthless debris.

Sources: Pugh, Lance K. "Klamath Junction: Our history submerged beneath Emigrant Lake." Jefferson Monthly, Dec. 2005, pp. 8+;  Sherwood, Courtney. "Drought Exposes Once-Submerged Oregon town to Archaeological Dig." Scientific American, edited by Eric M. Johnson and Eric Walsh, Reuters, www.scientificamerican.com/article/drought-exposes-once-submerged-town-to-archaeological-dig/. Accessed 25 Nov. 2017

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Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.