– Infrastructure –
The town’s primary power source comes from a distant hydroelectric dam on the Willamette river, which also provides it with much of its water. The central landfill is just north of Firetown, which also has recycling facilities for all nearby towns. Widow’s Perch’s chief export and financial bloodline is its lumber industry. A small portion of its product comes from the old mills along the river that still use the moving water to transport downed trees. The town’s stable climate and fertile land have also given it a small farming community, mostly dairy and poultry.
Widow’s Perch has a single inner city police station. There are five fire stations; two of which are situated near its tree farms. There are multiple clinics and a central hospital, Willamette Mercy General. State Highway 22 runs just north of town and is the primary connection to Salem in the west. The only other major road through town is Highway 226, which runs north/south.
– Areas of Interest –
While the small mountain that is the center of Widow’s March State Park is probably the original name source for the town of Widow’s Perch, it’s now kindly nicknamed “Big Blue” by the residents of town. It’s both a place of natural resources in the form of lush forests and the small Hill View Lake (aptly nicknamed “Lake Pond”) and recreation, with a popular hiking trail, cabins and camps, its notoriously inept attempt at an artist’s colony and retreat—and of course teenage make out central, Perch Point. Big Blue itself is visible from just about every spot in town and is the titular landmark of Chapter 1.
Widow’s Perch has a typical small town center, complete with old roads, preserved buildings, heritage sites, two parks, and a founder’s statue. In September, the Heritage Day parade goes through here, just as it has for many decades. Save for a major fire, the historic area has changed little over the years, and generations of Widow’s Perch natives return to a familiar sight on any annual visits. There is also a small war memorial in one of the parks, honoring all local veterans since World War I—about fifty in all so far.
In 1965, an antiwar protest led by activists from the local commune grounds accidentally started a fire after one of their members tossed a cigarette onto a recently painted public bench. Shortly after igniting, the flames reached a storefront awning and spread quickly. The protestors soon helped the local police that had been keeping them in order evacuate people before firefighters arrived. By the time the fire had been put out, five buildings had been lost, including the original Lumberjack Tavern. All were rebuilt within a year and a plaque on the new Lumberjack Bar commemorates the event.
Eugene McIver Field
In 1972, high school hockey remained the town’s only major sport. This changed when Mayor Rachel Dufoe began her first term, and quickly established a Minor League team and their home field. Eugene McIver field is one of the smallest Minor League stadiums in the nation, and only seats 3,500. The Lumberjacks are a poorly performing team, but remain beloved by their local devotees. Although they are consistent underdogs, they have been known to sometimes pull surprise victories. Whenever they score a home run, it is customary for their fans to shout out “TIMBER!!!”
Historic Sawmill and Widow’s Perch Heritage Museum
Located in between Dorkus Withnail Valley College and Widow’s March State Park, the old historic sawmill and heritage museum collect the history of the region and teach it to anyone willing to learn—however, it leaves much to be desired. The sawmill is mostly for recreation and serves mostly as a go-to field trip spot for the student body of the less aspiring schools of the town, and the museum is a small building with only four exhibition rooms and is mostly volunteer based. But they certainly try, and do manage to have their fair share of local artifacts.
– Other Locations –
Wandering Pines Community Center
One of the newest and biggest structures in town, construction on this sports and community center north of the river was not fully completed until 1991. While small in comparison to other centers like it, it does provide the town with a reasonably sized hockey-rink for high school games, a swimming pool, and a track. It is also the base of operations for charity fun run events and in 1994 it started up an annual triathlon competition.
Perch Palace Mall
With a grand opening that promised renewed commercial opportunities in 1974, the Perch Palace shopping mall has several upscale boutiques, a large food court, multiple fountains, a multiplex movie theater, a combination video rental store/arcade, a Sears, and its largest store, a JCPenney that provides the latest clothing lines to the town at affordable prices. However, by 1985, average attendance had dropped by half, and only a few high end stores remained. Despite an ongoing slow decline, it is still frequented by younger shoppers and families and is a main source of local commerce. Its dozens of interior blue and pink neon light accents have been left off for years to save on the electric bill, although they still come on during the last week of Christmas shopping.
Willamette Union Tower
In need of an office center, Widow’s Perch took out a large loan and had this seven floor modern building hastily constructed in 1983. The Chicago Modern-style tower is the tallest building in town, and its floors are host to accounting centers, a telemarketing company, and the headquarters of the local lumber trade union. The town’s central bank moved into the ground floor several years after completion, and while the building is hardly a beloved structure, it does employ over two hundred people.
Built in a former barn in 1907, the Comet Fire skating rink is the second oldest in Oregon, next to the one in Oaks Park, Portland. It was a popular attraction and remained largely the same until the 1970’s, when it was renovated into a roller disco. More recently, it has acquired a dozen old arcade machines that are operated on the side of the rink. With a snack bar serving pizza, chips, and soda, it continues to be a favorite hangout for local teenagers, since there is little else to do for their generation in town.
Widow’s Perch Church of the Bible
While this church is not the pillar of religious life in Widow’s Perch, its downtown location, peculiar and devoted pastor, and his flock make it hard to miss this non-denominational Christian place of worship. While unassuming from the outside, it has a bit of history with the people of Widow’s Perch and Firetown due to its former pastor leaving it to join a peaceful commune in the 1960s, which many people once thought was a Satanic cult. His son, Pastor Stone Jr. now leads the congregation, mixing up conventional Biblical teachings with his own bizarre, if not at least well-intentioned sermons—not the least of which is encouraging churchgoers to gather in the streets of town (to the great aggravation of commuters) and whole-heartedly “pray for Africa,” in a very non-specific context.
Dorkus Withnail Valley College of Art
A small, unaccredited art college stationed right at the outskirts of Widow’s March State Park, this school teaches all forms of the visual and performing arts and serves as the center of all desire to get the town of Widow’s Perch to become a hub of culture and a colony for artists. While not totally a joke of a school in and of itself, its isolated location and small size mean a lot of the student body are local and remain that way. Regardless of its status as a place of higher learning, it serves the community well through adult art classes, summer camps, and its outreach programs to the local elementary schools to get young people interested in the arts.
McIver Co. Lumber Mill
Though a bit of a shadow of its former self, the lumber industry in the area started by town founder Eugene McIver is still going and takes up a large part of the southeast area of town. Many of the people in this region, sometimes known as “Logtown”, are involved with the mill in some way. Time, however, has left the area somewhat fallen and impoverished, despite lumber being a major part of the local economy,
– School System –
Located in downtown Widow’s Perch, the First Presbyterian church provides basic preschool and kindergarten services and is the primary educational institute for many of the town’s youngest children.
Little Folkville Preschool & Kindergarten
A popular school downtown, many of Widow’s Perch’s more liberal parents send their children here before moving up to elementary school. Started by a married couple formerly of the commune, it focuses on teaching children through positive reenforcement and creative expression.
Widow’s Perch Elementary
Located on the oldest school grounds in town, Widow’s Perch Elementary has been rebuilt three times. It began as a schoolhouse in the original worker’s village to educate their children. In 1895, it was torn down and replaced with a proper, but still small school that served K-8 once the town’s first high school was built. It was turned into an elementary school in 1921, and remained as a Gothic revival building until its most recent reconstruction that wrapped up in time for the 1985-1986 school year. Only the previous incarnation’s playground remained. With help from Kenneth Lyons’ investments, it has become a modern school with up to date computer systems, and is one of the highest rated schools in the county. It is commonly nicknamed (Good Old) “Weep-es”.
Blue Mountain Elementary
Built in the 1950’s to fulfill the education need for the town’s growing population, Blue Mountain Elementary has changed little since its construction. With Widow’s Perch Elementary’s bus routes not extending to the neighborhoods in the southeast, many of its children must rely on this overcrowded, outdated school. Kenneth Lyons has aided it little outside of organizing book donations, and the school and its students are the butt of many rival playground jokes.
Cavalier School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS)
A relatively new magnet middle school located in the fast developing side of town across the river (sometimes known as “Newtown” by the locals), this school provides special fast paced learning programs for gifted, artistic, and special needs children. The campus is modern and tidy and a large amount of its funding comes from the Lyons and the Withnail estates, so it’s often seen as an unachievable beacon of a more bearable middle school life to those who are not lucky enough to attend it. Their mascot is a dragon.
Eugene McIver Middle School
This downtown middle school has been in service since the late 1940s and has been overcrowded and outdated since the 1950s. While it has a prime location for the children of the town, being easy to get to for parents and providing many nearby downtown venues for students after school, the building itself reminds most teens of a prison and has notoriously odd or just plain mean teachers. Their mascot is a St. Bernard.
Widow’s Perch High School
An upgrade from the hated Eugene McIver Middle School, Widow’s Perch’s High is old in the classical way—made of red brick, leafy green grounds and filled with the dreams of those who peaked at 17. It’s large enough to support the student body of both Widow’s Perch and Firetown (for those who can’t afford St. Brigid of Ireland) and keeps fairly up to date with its textbooks and technology, or as much as is possible in a small town. While not an especially highly rated high school in the county, it does fill locals with a sense of hometown pride, and during hockey season downtown is filled with pennants supporting the Stallions.