There is much more to the Gaston Rural Fire District than the city of Gaston.
For example, there's Cherry Grove. Built as a company town with its own railroad to serve a bustling mill, Cherry Grove now is a peaceful oasis in the rapidly growing Portland metropolitan area.
There's Patton Valley. Patton Valley could be a postcard with its well-kept farms and towering walls of timber. But Patton Valley also now is part of another growing part of our community: the wine industry.
Several more wineries skirt the western and southern edges of Gaston, drawing a steady stream of visitors to the area for tastes of some of the most sought-after pinot noir in Oregon.
As a tourist attraction, however, nothing beats Henry Hagg Lake. Behind the dam on Scoggins Creek lies the best water recreation site in the western metropolitan area. Boaters, kayakers, swimmers and fishermen flock to the quiet waters.
On shore, hikers, bicyclists and triathletes line the roadways and trails that circle the lake. The Gaston Rural Fire District's volunteers look after all of them.
As Scoggins Creek spills out from the dam, log trucks line up at the Stimson Lumber mill, a sprawling magnet for logs from throughout Northwest Oregon. It's no coincidence that the History Channel's "Ax Men" series is taped in and around the area. Logging remains one of the primary livelihoods in these parts, and several of the district's volunteers make their living in the industry.
Coming back into Gaston from Hagg Lake along busy state Highway 47, you can't miss distinctive Bald Peak rising more than 1,600 feet. The Gaston firefighters and EMTs cover that area as well.
The Washington County Scenic Loop follows Gaston Road to Springhill Road, then up Laurelwood past the old Laurelwood Academy, a once bustling residential high school affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
The academy has moved to Eugene, but the little community of Laurelwood still thrives, thanks in no small part to the legacy of the academy. It, too, is served by the Gaston district.
If you follow twisting Laurelwood Road up the side of Bald Peak you soon will leave the fire district, but you'll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular five-peak views (Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood and Jefferson) you'll ever find.
And if you follow the road up to Bald Peak State Park, stop for a minute along the way for some breathtaking views of the Gaston area. Then proceed on down Albertson Road, down into the quiet Wapato Valley, and you'll be in the Yamhill County portion of the Gaston Rural Fire District.
The District supports all of this in addition to helping out neighboring departments.
More importantly, all these areas support the District. Volunteers come from just down the street from the station, from Cherry Grove, from Scoggins Valley, Patton Valley, Laurelwood and more, all tied together by the Gaston Rural Fire District.