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As It Was: Women Promote Safe Skating on Klamath Reclamation Canal

Finding safe places for people to enjoy ice skating in the early 1900s was a real preoccupation of community leaders in Klamath Falls.  The smooth, expansive frozen surface of Upper Klamath Lake continued to lure young skaters, despite drownings beneath the ice.

The Lioness Club and the Business and Professional Womens Club teamed up in 1932 to promote skating on the A Canal, the primary irrigation channel for the Klamath Reclamation Project.  The Bureau of Reclamation allowed construction of a small dam in the canal, with local sawmills providing lumber for it.  A small amount of water was released into the canal to form a 2-foot-deep ice pond that stretched for several hundred feet.

In other recreation projects in 1932, the high school manual training department built 25 sleds, Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls served as safety monitors at coasting hills, and Lions Club members provided wood for warming fires.

The pond gave way in 1940 to a skating lagoon built by the City of Klamath Falls on the shore of Upper Klamath Lake, followed by a skating rink near Moore Park in 1948.

Sources: "Canal Skating Facilities To Be Ready Soon; Slides Planned." Evening Herald, 7 Dec. 1932 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] , p. 1+. Newspapers.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017; "At Lat! An Ice Rik." Evening Herald, 9 Nov. 1940 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] , p. 12. Newspapers.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017; "Ice Rink to Be Built Soon on Upper Klamath." Evening Herald, 8 Nov. 1940 [Klamath Falls, Ore.], p. 1. Newspapers.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017; "Ice Skating Plans Talked." Herald and News, 21 Sept. 1948 [Klamath Falls, Ore.] , p. 2. Newspapers.com. Accessed 19 Dec. 2017.

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Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.