Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Clackamas County READ MORE

Marine Unit deputies replace tattered Willamette Falls American flag in time for July 4



For July 4, our Marine Unit deputies did something special: They replaced the tattered American flag at Willamette Falls.

If you navigate the Willamette River or look out at the Willamette Falls from one of the viewpoints, or perhaps catch a glance on your commute, you may have noticed a flagpole with a tattered U.S. flag in the middle of the falls. Our deputies recall seeing Old Glory and the pole there for the last 10 years.

Our Marine Unit deputies noticed the flag was in bad shape. It had been there for years and was tattered, worn and faded -- hanging only from its lower grommet.  

So Marine Unit deputies did a little research to try and determine who was responsible for the flag's presence at the Falls.

Portland General Electric and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are responsible for this area of the falls. They seemed likely to be the responsible parties for the flagpole.

As it turned out, neither entity placed the flagpole there.

The structure is on is a combination of the Blue Heron Paper Mill site's diversion dam and the fish ladder. But no one at the mill knew how the flag got there.

Deputies took a closer look -- and realized this was not even a traditional flagpole, which would have a halyard (rope) to easily lower or raise a flag.

Instead, the Willamette Falls flagpole is a 20-foot-long log painted white, with a couple of eye-bolts at the top to attach a flag.

At the top of this makeshift pole was a non-functioning solar light, presumably used to comply with the requirement to illuminate the American Flag when flown overnight.

The log/flagpole was jammed between some steel and concrete, with sticks wedged inbetween to secure the makeshift flagpole in place.

Our deputies decided to replace this flag for two reasons:

  1. This is a dangerous location for boaters, and our Marine deputies did not want someone to be in danger taking it upon themselves to fix this flag.
  2. The other reason seems obvious: This symbol of our great nation needed to be replaced.  

The deputies went to work. They lifted the pole out of its hold in order to remove the old torn flag. They replaced it with a new flag. The deputies then reset the pole, topped with a fresh Stars and Stripes.

We hope you take a moment this holiday weekend to enjoy Old Glory flying above Willamette Falls from one of the many available viewpoints. Deputies also want to remind people that the Willamette Falls Flag is planted in a dangerous location -- and ask people to enjoy the view from a safe distance.

Photos are attached, and video can be downloaded from this Dropbox address:

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY: To speak to members of the Marine Unit about the flag restoration, contact PIO Sgt. Mendoza.