Detroit Lake is situated over a historical road bed of the former Oregon Pacific Railroad. This route was built by Colonel T. Egenton Hogg as a proposed transcontinental railroad. Because of a lack of funding, the line terminated in Idanha, southeast of the lake. Idanha had rail service until the 1950s, when the track was removed for installation of the Detroit and Big Cliff reservoirs. Detroit Lake was created in 1953 after the completion of the dam. Part of the Willamette Valley Projects, the lake was intended primarily for flood control and power generation but has become one of the major recreation resources in Western Oregon.
The reservoir has a capacity of 455,000 acre-feet (560 million m³) of water when full and 281,600 acre-feet in the summer when drawn down. Located in the North Santiam Canyon, the 9-mile (14 km) long lake has shoreline of 32 miles (51 km) when full. One swimming opportunity is at the Mongold Day-Use Area (an Oregon State Park). Detroit Lake is stocked by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife with 125,000 catchable rainbow trout along with fingerling rainbow, kokanee and chinook salmon. A self-sustaining population of brown bullhead catfish resides in the lake.
Detroit Lake offers year round fishing as long as you fish in still water (not in or near the rivers and streams).
Detroit Lake is one of 32 lakes federally designated for recreation, managed by the United States Forest Service. The lake serves many purposes including flood control, water conservation, and recreation. At low pool, it has a surface elevation of 1,450 feet (440 m); at the full pool season—typically May 1 to September 1—it can raise up to 119 feet (36 m) to a water elevation of 1,569 feet (478 m).
There are many camping and recreation opportunities at Detroit Lake. In 2009, a new winter boat ramp was constructed at Mongold State Park. This ramp will make it possible to launch a boat safely during the winter months when the other ramps in the lake are on dry ground.
Detroit Lake Recreation Area Business Association’s mission:
The primary purpose of DLRABA is to stimulate, promote, encourage, and develop the economic health and vitality of the greater Detroit Lake recreation area.
DLRABA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit.
If you are interested in joining DLRABA, please fill out and fax in the Membership Application. Thank you for your interest.
There are a number of events planned for this year. If you would like to learn about all of the opportunities to volunteer, please contact us.