Donna Road, McGowan Creek Road

Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are two out of the way roads in the scenic Mohawk Valleyin Lane County, Oregon.  Donna was formerly a town, but now only the road remains.  Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are still a pretty place to live, with short commutes to Eugene Springfield.  There are a few farms, but country properties are common, and homes with acreage are popular, but not frequently on the market.   Most of the properties are fairly typical of the Mohawk Valley, and in general quite scenic.

The Mohawk Valley is east northeast of Springfield and generally follows Marcola Road.  Donna and McGowan Roads are in the western side of the mid-Mohawk Valley.  Donna Road begins off of Hill Road, by the Mohawk General Store, about a block west of Marcola Road.  It loops back to Marcola Road after about 1 1/2 miles.  McGowan Creek Road starts from Donna Road and goes west, back up into the woods.  Only about the first mile is settled and it turns to forest land after that; there is essentially no settlement until you cross the mountains west and get near the town of Coburg.

There are about 60 properties with Donna Road as the address.  They range from 1/3 acre to 80 acres, with the average size being a little over 2 acres.  The County shows the value of properties along Donna Road from about 57K to 460K, with a median value of around 220K.  Property Sales data from RMLS over the last 24 months reveal:  0 actives, 0 pendings  and 1 sold.  Most houses along Donna Road were built gradually after 1910.  The oldest homes date back to 1910, and originally were company houses built by the Mohawk Lumber Company.  The old school house that was used from 1909 to 1963 still stands, but is now a private residence.  Interestingly, it cost $2,400 to build, and it’s worth over 100 times that now–who says real estate isn’t a good investment?.  House sizes range from 580 SF to 3,800 SF, with a median size of about 1,600 SF.  Median house value, according the County, is about $139/SF, at the time of this posting.

Of the 10 properties along McGowan Creek Road the County shows values from about 180K to over 320K, with a median value of around 230K.  Property Sales data from RMLS over the last 24 months show no actives, pendings or solds.  Most houses along McGowan Creek Road are newer, with an average age from the 1970s.  The oldest home dates back to 1915.  House sizes range from 1,450 SF to 2,560 SF, with a median size of about 1,980 SF.  Median house value, according the County, is about $117/SF, at the time of this posting.

Zoning designations common along Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are:  F1, F2, RR, and EFU.  Neither road is within any UGB designation, so land development and building permits are controlled by Lane County.  Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are in the Springfield School District, and schools are Yolanda, Briggs, and Thurston.  Wells and septic systems are the norm.

The area around Donna and McGowan Creek Roads was originally settled by two pioneering families before 1855:  The McGowans & Harleys, and many modern property deeds reference the McGowan or Harley Donation Land Claims, originally of 160 & 320 acres, respectively.  McGowan’s homestead was in the triangle, now formed by McGowan Creek and Donna Roads.  What is now Donna road also appears present in that survey.  The Harley homestead straddled Clark Brook; both homesteads were there at the time of the first survey in 1855.  There was an old road, first used by Native Americans, that connected the towns of Marcola, Coburg and Springfield, and Donna road appears to follow part of that alignment.  The first County Road, probably Marcola Road, was installed in 1887.


It’s hard to discuss Donna Road without going into the history of the former towns of Mohawk and Donna.  The town of Mohawk was the settlement around the old Mohawk post office, which in 1870 was located perhaps 3/4 of a mile or so north of the intersection of Hill and Donna Roads.  The post office was later moved closer to where the General Store is now and the town was renamed to Donna.  The town of Donna was a logging boom/bust town.

The lumber industry took off in the Mohawk Valley in 1896 when Southern Pacific bought the O&C Railroad lands in the area.  By about 1900, they extended the railroad through Donna, all the way to Wendling, allowing logs and lumber to be easily transported.  Before the railroad, logs were transported by teams of oxen or in Mohawk & McKenzie Rivers.

The Mohawk Lumber Company had a one-time thriving operation near Donna Road and had a flume from McGowan Creek to the rail siding at Donna.  The Mohawk Lumber Company also had its own short line near Donna for railroad logging.  This operated at least through the 1920s.  There was a train station on the main line, across the street, to the east, from where the General Store is now.

The Mohawk Lumber Co. in Donna was one of several large mills in the Mohawk valley, but all are gone now because the big timber is gone, and surface roads allow logs to easily be transported to centralized mills, farther away from the logging sites.  More than 90% of the original timber has been cut, and the land has been reforested.  Perhaps about 1/2 of the approximately 100,000 of timber in the Mohawk Watershed is 45 years or younger.

Seeing the serene houses and farms now along Donna and McGowan Roads it’s hard to imagine that it was formerly a bustling mill town with a railroad running through it.  Donna and McGowan Creek Roads have been slowly subdivided and built up over the years since the mills closed, with most of the building in the 1960s and 1970s.  It isn’t completely built-out, so further building and development is possible, although difficult, due to Lane County’s restrictive zoning ordinances.

Interesting or notable features along Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are:

  • The old Weyerhaeuser Railroad.  This was constructed around 1900 and ran through Donna to the town of Marcola, then to Wendling.  It was active until the 1980s.
  • The Mohawk General Store:  This is the former hub of the town of Donna.  Thecurrent building replace the store that burned in about 1913.
  • The Ping Yang School:  Destroyed in 1901, it was an early school, which had the notoriety of being dynamited several times, purportedly by surly neighbors.
  • The Emerald Empire Gun Club:  The shooting range up McGowan Creek.  You can sometimes hear gunfire from the club.
  • Logging roads up McGowan Creek:  If you like to drive through the woods, this is a great place to do it.  There are hundreds of miles of roads.
  • Allison & McGowan Creeks and Clark Brook:  You might find an occasional native cutthroat or rainbow trout in them.  They’re very pretty.  Some of the properties near them may have flood plain issues.

Donna and McGowan Creek Roads are beautiful spots to own real estate.  Buying or sellingcountry property in Lane County can be a challenge, but a good realtor who is familiar with the area can be a great aid to you. If you are interested in real estate along Donna and McGowan Creek Roads or other country properties in Lane County, Oregon, please contact me.  Or you can search listings here.

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