lorane ioof cemetery
Admittedly, it’s a stretch to include Lorane in the Willamette Valley, given that it’s on the Siuslaw River, which drains into the Ocean at Florence, but where else are you going to include it?

The Lorane Valley is a principality all to itself. To find communities more buried within the Coast Range, one has to go to Powers or Agness; but such hamlets, while more remote than Lorane, have not her broad valley, which provides such an agricultural draw. Although its on a by-route now, the significance of the valley is attested to by its location on the historic Territorial Highway. That being said, the Territorial Highway is no freeway. It twists and turns its entire route, and the last climb up to the Lorane Valley is particularly tight and torqued. And that’s the easy way in. The shortest route is in from Cottage Grove, but that’s harrier than Territorial. Following Territorial Highway south to Curtin might actually be shorter than the run in from Cottage Grove, but, seeing as the road devolves to dirt for part of its equaled tortured miles, it drives longer. Last but not least is the Siuslaw River Rd., which might be paved the whole way now, but at 50 miles in from Florence, it’s only a fisherman’s option.

Stretching north-south, it’s not a large valley—roughly one-by-three miles—but it’s its own special micro-clime, which has recently attracted the industry destined to put Lorane, reluctantly, on the map: wine. The sleepy sideshow of a valley is now dominated—and I mean dominated—by King Estates Winery, whose sprawling buildings lord over the valley like the feudal castle they wish they were. “King” is the operative word here. They’re no longer alone, Chateau Lorane (cute, no? those Americans never could spell), has joined King Estates, but its the estates that determine the valley’s future. There are organic farms in the area, and one can feel gentrification crawling through the gates—undoubtedly to the locals’ consternation—but one can only hope that the road in is never “improved.” Maintaining a semblance of isolation is the valley’s best chance.

There are two cemeteries in the valley, this and the Lorane Grange Cemetery; which, according to Ms. Mitchell at the Lorane Store, is at the end of King Estates Drive “in the grove of trees to the north of the drive.” That may be the case, but the gate to King Estates Drive was locked the day I was there, so I have no idea what lies at the end of the drive.

As to the IOOF Cemetery, there is some debate. Published sources list the Independent Order of Good Templars as the founding outfit of the cemetery, but the sign and Ms. Mitchell both go with the Odd Fellows. Ms. Mitchell says there’s never been a Good Templars connection, as far as she knows. I’ll believe Ms. Mitchell.

When you do get to the cemetery, you’ll find two long acres pulling back from the road. There are a couple large firs in the center of the cemetery and four small ones along the front fence, but, other than that, it’s a fairly unadorned cemetery. And fairly unused. The back third is empty and the rest only used sparingly. A reader board in “downtown” Lorane reminded folks of the upcoming cemetery cleanup day, which it surely could use. They’re awaiting the gentrification. The cemetery may not be cause for a lengthy detour, but the valley’s a place apart; there’s nothing else quite like it in Oregon.

Directions:

On the west side of Territorial Hwy. about a half-mile south of Lorane.
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