A Quarry Where Children Drowned Is Transformed Into A Nature Park

Industry Observer

 On June 19, 2005 (Father's Day), cousins Nick Davis, 13, and Britton Shepherd-Davis, 15, went swimming in a gravel pond in west Eugene, Oregon where a quarry used to be.  It was their last swim, as they both tragically drowned.  Seventeen-year-old Johnny Emory in 1994 and 12-year-old Ryan Lambert in 2000 also died in these quarry ponds, although the count may have been greater.

The deaths of these children spurred the local community to take action.  Eugene voters passed a bond measure in 2006 allocating $2 million to making this place safer and a benefit to the city.  Then the work began to transform the land into a welcoming and safe nature area.

Golden Gardens Park Memorial Plaque

The abandoned quarry became Golden Gardens Park and was dedicated exactly four years after Nick and Britton died.

Gesse Flying Over Golden Gardens ParkToday, the park in the Bethel neighborhood of far west Eugene is little known and infrequently visited outside of the local neighborhoods.  Yet it's a peaceful place to traverse the three quarry ponds and observe the pond turtles, ducks, egrets, and blue herons that stop by.  In the late fall and winter the skies are filled with wave upon wave of Canadian geese soaring above and honking as they pass by.

Geese on PondLocal residents walk around the ponds or take their dogs for some daily exercise.  Fishermen attempt to lure some fish to their bait.  Hawks perch in nearby trees to search for prey in the nearby fields.  An occasional buzz from planes landing at the nearby Eugene Airport interrupts the peaceful pastoral scene.

What was once a dredging operation to provide stones and gravel to construct the nearby Beltline Highway is now peaceful parkland reclaimed by nature.

Golden Gardens Park Main Pond

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Rick Obst is an Arizona native who moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and fell in love with the verdant Pacific Northwest.  He enjoys photography and discovering the many people, places, and events that make this part of the world so special.

To learn more about Eugene, Lane County, and western Oregon, visit 365 and More Things to do in Lane County, Oregon on Facebook.  You'll see hundreds of pictures and links to discover the beauty and attractions of this special area.



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Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Rick, glad they have these names in memory, and will never be forgotten by the locals!  

Dec 17, 2017 02:26 PM #1

What did they do to make it safer?

Dec 18, 2017 07:55 PM #2
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