Though it is an attractive stop, Colliding Rivers where the North Umpqua and Little rivers meet, doesn’t quite live up to its name except during floods or in early spring.

Snapshot: Colliding Rivers

When you visit a place called the Colliding Rivers, you expect to see rushing waters smashing together in a headlong collision that explodes into a towering wall of water.

Guess again.

Unless you arrive early in the spring, or in the middle of a flood, the two "colliding rivers," the Little and the North Umpqua, glide together like a handshake between lifelong friends.

"I really was expecting something pretty dramatic," said Sean Garner of St. Cloud, Minn. "It's really pretty to look at, but kind of disappointing, too."

The Garners were on their way to Crater Lake, taking the waterfall tour along Highway 138. From the top of the overlook, 18 miles east of Roseburg, he snapped a few photos and then drove away.

"That's how we get most of our visitors," said Dolores Mitchell, a volunteer at the Colliding Rivers Information Center. "As the year goes on, the waterfalls slow down, but there's always water coming over them, and people want to get a look."

Though there is a new stone wall, upgraded restroom facilities and widened pathways to the rivers at the wayside viewpoint, the real attraction is the information center across the road.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1986, the center was built in 1938 by work crews of the U. S. Forest Service, with major help coming from the Civilian Conservations Corps workers stationed at Camp Steamboat, just a few more miles to the east.

"It's a neat little building," said Mitchell. "I particularly like the way they built the roof out over the stone porch and steps, with the natural logs, squared off and curved."

Though it was built for the Forest Service and would serve as the Glide Ranger Station into the 1950s, the CCC boys left their personal touch.

On each handmade window shutter is a cutout of a pine tree, the unofficial symbol of the Conservation Corps. There are three more of the cutout trees on the front of the pediment over the porch.

"They held competitions," said Mitchell, "to see who could put the most trees on a building."

Mitchell said that the exterior of the building hasn't changed much except for occasional repairs and a new roof that was added earlier this spring.

Inside are displays of animals found in the region and some of the tools used by Forest Service and CCC personnel. Travelers seeking a brand new adventure will also find an entire wall stocked with travel brochures.

"I guess the best part of the inside," said Mitchell, "is the air conditioning we have. It must have been rough when it got hot outside and all the guys could do was open a window."

Mitchell said the station was a private home from the 1950s until 1992, when it became the Colliding Rivers Information Center.

Each year, nearly 6,000 people come looking for a tower of water and instead, cross the road and find the old ranger cabin. "So far," said Mitchell, "I haven't heard any complaints."

Bill Miller is a Southern Oregon freelance writer. Reach him at

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