Cottage Grove damsite as it looked on 1 August 1939.
Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
People had to move away. Some were the sons and daughters of the original settlers and they lived in the old homes that had been built by their parents. Of course they had to take them away and most of them were old. Some of them went to nursing homes. The neighbors, there were a few of them that moved their houses back. My parents did and moved my grandparents house back too, out of the lake area which was a big job at the time because they didn't have much to do it with. They moved two houses and a barn and various sheds back out of the lake area so that they could continue living there.
Marie Geer was a homemaker when construction on the dam was finally completed. She gardened and canned "hundred and hundreds of quarts of fruit, vegetables, and meats...52 pints of jam every year." She did all of this without benefit of indoor plumbing or electricity, which took seven years to reach her rural home. Ray Geer, her husband worked for the nearby Woodard Lumber Company. As a young girl, Marie Geer watched as the effects of the dam construction destroyed the community in which she lived. Years later she clearly appreciated the flood control benefits of the dams but she remembered the period of their construction as one of anxiety.
People couldn't get information. Nobody knew if they were going to get decent payment for their property so that they could get a place somewhere else. It took a long time before word would finally come out. The Grange was quite instrumental in getting information. They finally decided to get together and insist that someone from the Army Corps of Engineers come and talk to them and tell them what was happening. Even after they had drilled test drills for the Cottage Grove Dam, we found out later that [the engineers] went on up to the London area up above us and they drilled up there to see if maybe that would be a more suitable place [for a dam]. People were all up in the air. They didn't know if they were going to move. They didn't know what was happening. And it was months that way that we were just left wondering.
Ultimately about 20 families were moved from the reservoir area. Some people moved their homes to what is now the edge of a lake while other relocated to nearby towns like Cottage Grove. While the town of Hebron was not re-established, the Army Corps moved the Hebron school house to higher ground where it eventually became the Grange. This was the third move for the school house which had to be moved twice previously to avoid the meandering Coast Fork River.