“This place is full of love”
Nestled above North Fork Road along the Santiam River lies Taylor Park – a summer retreat known by few people outside the families lucky enough to have had permanent campsites.
As park owner Randall Tinney explains, “It is a summer recreation campground [with] areas that are full-service: water, electricity and sewer.” Altogether there were 550 campsites for weekend and vacation use spread out over 230 acres and three and a half miles of riverbank.
The property, and much of the adjacent land, has been in Tinney’s family for generations, first settling on the property in 1868. Tinney, alongside his beloved wife Elaine, has been running Taylor Park for almost 40 years.
Space in the park is by invitation only and the longtime guests who have been spending their summers at the campground for generations “are like a gigantic family,” Tinney explained. “These folks look after each other’s children. They look after each other’s property. You couldn’t have a nicer community.”
In the middle of the night on Sept. 7, 2020, the Beachie Creek Fire – fueled by 40-plus mile per hour winds – tore through the park, destroying almost everything in its path: hundreds of RVs and shelters, the office, grocery store, laundry facility and shower room, Tinney’s shop and thousands of trees.
In a far greater tragedy, Elaine passed away suddenly only five days after their return to the park in the wake of the fire, leaving Tinney to face the daunting task of rebuilding without his beloved partner.
“As much as I wanted just to curl up and not do anything,” Tinney explained, “My wife would not have stood still for having me let this place fall apart.”
Tinney hired a private logging company that cleared most of the burnt hazard trees on the property (over 2 million board feet were salvaged), but ash and burnt metal and debris were strewn throughout the 230-acre park. Tinney entered the state-run Commercial Property Debris Removal program to have the Oregon Department of Transportation complete the remainder of the cleanup.
The Debris Management Task Force spent nearly two months clearing the property.
“Crews came through and removed all of the scrap metal, all of the debris and all of the ash and then scraped the ground to be sure that any noxious materials were picked up,” Tinney explained. “Children play in the dirt so it’s very important that they get rid of anything that might be a contaminant that might hurt some of our folks.”
Tinney still faces a long road to fully reopening, including replacing the entire water and septic systems, which were completely destroyed by the fire, and rebuilding the 13 miles of roads on the property. “I may have to mortgage my house to get this up and running again,” he said, “but my families need it…and I need it.”
Watch the video to see how Tinney is committed to rebuild the park to honor his wife:
“I rebuild it for her. I rebuild it for my families. This place is full of love.”