About

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Located in Walterville, Oregon, the McKenzie River Discovery Center will be a world-class destination offering transformational experiences through educational displays of historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, interpretive nature trails and more, focused on three main areas:

Geology and Hydrology: Volcanic activity 3-10 million years ago created enormous underground lava chambers that became the underground reservoir giving rise to the McKenzie. The McKenzie River is one of the largest “spring creeks” in the world, with its unique hydrology keeping the water steadily flowing at extremely cold temperatures and high volumes, which filters the water naturally. It is now one of the last places where species of threatened salmon and trout can be found.

Cultural History: For about 8,000 years, the McKenzie River valley has been home to the Mollala and Kalapuya tribes among others, who visited and lived in the area for its abundance of fish, game, berries and obsidian. In modern times, the river has captivated anglers drawn to the promise of world-class fishing opportunities. The McKenzie River Drift Boat, developed specifically for fishing on its namesake river, is famous among river and fishing enthusiasts, and is now used worldwide. These ground-breaking boats and subsequent guide culture have significantly influenced the world of white water fishing.

Fish and Ecology: The McKenzie is revered for its native “redside” rainbow trout, bull trout and spring Chinook salmon. One of the last places these species are found, they are foremost magnets, drawing and shaping human culture for centuries. The river’s pristine riparian habitat also supports summer steelhead, sensitive amphibian species, river otters, osprey and more.

Innovation: A Hallmark of the Center

Evolving content featuring the three central themes will be developed via traditional displays and digital interactive technology that engage visitors both emotionally and physically. Interactive exhibits using new virtual reality, augmented reality and other technologies will create a lively, compelling guest experience. Design elements will enable easy reconfiguration of the space, ensuring modular use of floor space. As a result, content can continue to evolve – not just annually, but seasonally – incorporating new information and technology as available. In addition, the digital approach opens up the Discovery Center to a nation-wide collection of educational materials and the potential to provide content to virtual visitors anywhere in the world. New ways of thinking about exhibit design will produce a museum experience like no other.

Did You Know?

Increase Visitors to Lane County

Increase Visitors to Lane County

A University of Oregon study determined that the Discovery Center is expected to increase visits to the McKenzie rural area by over 20%.

Longevity to Give Back

Longevity to Give Back

Lane County has generously extended a $1 a year long-term lease for 99 years in support of the Center.

A Community Campaign

A Community Campaign

Run by dedicated, experienced and passionate enthusiastic. For the McKenzie River, for Lane County, for Oregon and the environment.

Based on a Comprehensive Study

Based on a Comprehensive Study

The feasibility study proves thorough, concrete information underlining the viability of the Center galvanized the planning group to go forward in making their plan a reality.

The River Gives Life

The River Gives Life

The McKenzie River is the source of clear, clean drinking water for 240,000 people in Eugene, the second largest city in Oregon, as well as much of its surrounding area.

The Spaceous Site

The Spaceous Site

The center will be situated on approximately 46 acres of Lane County parkland at the Old McKenzie Fish Hatchery.