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Lacamas Lake

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Lacamas Lake from Camas Heritage Park (bobcat)


Lacamas Lake, along with its neighbor, Round Lake, fills a depression carved by the ice age Bretz (Missoula) Floods at the end of the last ice age. Even though the lake is 180 feet above the Columbia River channel down which the floods roared, the roiling spate was deeper than that and cut across the landscape here to create a new channel. In the 1880s, two dams were built at Round Lake, which also raised the water level in Lacamas Lake. A few years later, a ditch was dug, using Chinese workers, to channel water from the lake to the Camas paper mill. In the decades that followed, further improvements were made to this system which fed the water needs of the paper mill.

The waters of the lake are notoriously polluted by agricultural runoff. Even so, the lake is a popular destination for recreationists, including boaters. It's also a favorite fishing hole for locals; bluegill, trout, and perch can be hooked here, but trout need to be restocked annually as few can live year-to-year due to the eutrophication of the waters. Waterbirds are attracted to its shores and a cormorant population feeds off of the fish. Lake waters drop in the summer leaving mudflats exposed along its shores.

In 1906, the town south of the lake changed its name from La Camas to Camas, but the lake kept the original name.

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