|Locations from Regents Walk|
|Location||Oregon (Linn County)|
Widow's Perch is the central, fictional town in the Regents Walk comic series. The majority of the story and events transpire in this town, which has many services and municipalities for a city its size. Though it serves as a hub for its satellite towns, Widow's Perch itself is a sleepy backwater that economically relies on its lumber trade. It has rebranded itself many times, and in the last few decades it has upgraded its schools, built a small art college, put up a mall, and created a minor league baseball team. Most of this has been financed by its "patriarchs", the men of the Lyons family.
Eugene McIver was an American investor born and raised in a poor Irish immigrant family who lived in Pennsylvania. During the expansion to the west, Eugene first settled in Salem as a self-taught entrepreneur shortly after it was made the territorial capital . It is believed that he fell in with a group of Canadian immigrant lumberjacks, and Eugene set out with them and began his own lumber company. Choosing a location in the east within a day's journey of Salem, McIvertown began as little more than a worker village, and 80% of its small population were lumberjacks or immigrants, many from Canada. Several of Salem's earliest surviving wooden buildings can trace their roots back to the McIver Lumber Company.
In 1870, the village became a true town when it acquired its new name, which was accompanied with what is now a local legend. Many details remain lost, but it is said that over 300 widowed Native Americans from various tribes traveled west and, treated fairly by the people of then McIvertown, many of them settled and the population doubled. To date, many native-born citizens can still trace their heritage to a mixed Canadian/Native American bloodline. At some point, following Eugene's passing, the town was renamed to Widow's Perch.
The town's development is closely related to the Lyons family patriarchs. In summary, it was primarily industrial and had multiple lumber mills, which eventually brought in a freight train line south of town. In 1932, it was linked directly with nearby Salem through Oregon Route 22, and quickly became less isolated. A full school system was implemented, and with investments from the Lyons and Whitnail estates, the town grew into a bustling hub for the nearby smaller communities, including Firetown.
Widow's Perch rebounded after the depression, and reached its economic peak in the 1950's. The 60's brought in a counter-culture element that shifted the demographics somewhat, scaring away several regional presences but attracting other independent businesses in the process. In the 1970's, the town underwent its final construction and renovation boom, with the building of the Perch Palace mall its highlight. Few buildings have been created or updated since then, although significant money has gone into preserving the historical downtown area, and a small office park was built in 1983, which became the town's tallest building at seven stories.
The town has been on a slow decline since it reached a peak population of about 17,000 in 1980. When the story begins in 1987, Widow's Perch's glory days have already passed by, but that is of little concern to the new and enthusiastic generation of its youngsters; the town and its history their playground.
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.
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,
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.
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.
A rare schoolyard tale going back to around 1982, the tale of the Woodman is usually known only to a few children at a time. It is often reserved as a fireside ghost story at Lake Pond's campgrounds. Although it comes in many variants, it usually involves a mild-mannered wood carver who died under mysterious circumstances. Decades later, teenagers attempt to bring him back from the afterlife at a bonfire on Big Blue. However, he comes back as a monster, and turns the teenagers into wooden dolls before disappearing into the night. The tale fits in well in a town surrounded by and reliant on trees.
Big Blue Vampires
The legend goes that there was a spree of mysterious and identical deaths in the town during the 1870's, each victim having strange marks on the neck and hands. Suspicion in the small frontier settlement soon turned to vampires, and consequently notorious loner and petty criminal Clive Yeats Harrow. He was accused of being the vampire ringleader when he was supposedly spotted at the scene of another similar death. He was hanged and burned without trial. It is said that the corpses of at least six believed vampires are buried in the woods around Perch Point, and the spirit of Clive haunts those who wander there at night, seeking revenge.
Today, it's questioned whether these deaths even took place and whether or not the vampire legend is a more recent invention coming out of fears during the turn-of-the-century modernization of the town. The only records relating to the whole legend are a census noting the death of Clive Yeats Harrow in 1875 and a daguerreotype of a consumption-stricken man simply labeled "Clive." The legend and these articles are a favorite topic of discussion among Widow's Perch historians and schoolchildren alike, and there's seldom a Halloween without a vampire or Harrow themed costume or drink special. A more recent modern mutation of the legend has gone as far as giving Big Blue a vampire harem that the National Guard was sent in to wipe out, only to have both parties eradicated—and in the process turning the vampires into vampire ghosts.
A recent addition to the local childlore, Kasey's Creek serves as an introduction to urban legends. Simply put, in 1959, a teenage girl named Kasey died at a creek—which was then named after her. The story is absurdly light and inane, and it's only meant to scare children with the idea that teenagers can die somewhere and have a location named after them; a cautionary tale indeed that perhaps only serves as a child's first realization of their own mortality. Usually attributed to a small, unnamed tributary near Eugene McIver Middle School, there is no evidence that any person named Kasey ever died anywhere in its vicinity.
Widow's March is the name given to the trail that leads through Widow's March State Park and some parts of the outer limits of town. While not confirmed as factual in anyway, this is the trail the local believers of the Widow's Perch widows think they made their sad march up to Big Blue through. Today, it's the park's main hiking trail and leads to Perch Point, which at various times of day is either completely vacant or swarming with hormonal teenagers.
Gateway to the Underworld
A small drainage ditch located in between Warwoman Road and Highway 226, the large, rusting sewer terminus has acquired a large collection of typical urban tales over the years, primarily by those that grew up near it. A make out and graffiti spot for teenagers, the drain is only loosely connected to the town's main sewer line anymore. Children are sometimes led to believe that at some point, the tunnels do in fact lead to the underworld. But what teenagers have done to it, and inside of it, are probably worse.
Eugene Tennyson McIver
Despite the image of a hearty lumberjack depicted in his monument and various town signage and lore, the few photographs remaining of the indelible town founder show a slim and well-dressed gentleman. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804, Eugene McIver was the second of five children of a well established businessman and his actress wife. After completing his education, McIver pursued his father's line of business, but couldn't compete with his own older brother's success and proceeded to look elsewhere for work, bouncing around several positions in various companies before going off to seek his fortune during the Westward Expansion.
Upon arriving in Oregon, McIver set up in style in an available settlement and was eventually able to start his first lumber yard, which eventually evolved into a lumber company, which then evolved into its own small settlement, the predecessor of Widow's Perch, McIvertown. For the rest of his life, McIver continued to build upon what he had started and would one day "cut the ribbon" at the official founding of the new town. In 1869, McIver died of typhus during a small outbreak in town and the month of September remains celebrated in his honor. McIver never married or had any known children, though it is said he had a very close companion in a Wasco-Wishram trader. This friendship, however little is known about it, was made into a folklore tale in a local comic book penned by the writer and artist, Bernard Kincaid, in 1955, mostly as a satire of the Lone Ranger television series popular at the time. The comic saw moderate success but never really spread out from the town. He later became a Dorkus Withnail college professor, and the comic fell into obscurity. Five copies are known to still exist, all but the one in Widow's Perch Heritage Museum in the hands of collectors.
McIver himself is generally written about as being soft-spoken, hard-working and respectful of all his workers, if not sometimes a bit arrogant, clueless about the nature around him, and always willing to take a shortcut.
As a wealthy San Francisco widow in 1899, Dorkus Withnail settled in Widow's Perch after several years of travel across the Northwest—presumably charmed by its small town atmosphere and its original beautiful landscapes. When not teaching herself to paint the wilderness surrounding Big Blue, widow Withnail spent her time and money avidly funding public works around town and building the town into what it is today. Dorkus Withnail Valley College of Art and Dorkus Withnail Park are both named in her honor.
When adjusting for inflation, Ralph Lyons still has the distinction of being the richest man who has ever called Widow's Perch home. As one of the early Texan oil barons, Ralph was known as particularly cutthroat and was reportedly involved in multiple extortion schemes, though he never faced trial. After making too many enemies, he fled with his son—and suitcases of money—to Oregon and eventually found himself in Widow's Perch. At first thoughtful of how he could use the lumber industry for his own gains, Ralph was instead fascinated by the simple and friendly people in town, and in the end, did not return to his old ways. Before his death, he financed a local, strong bank and invested in the construction of the city hall building that still stands in 1987. He never got to see his mansion, the Blue Sky Manor, reach completion. It is still the largest residence in the county.
Taking over his father's legacy, property, and money at the young age of 32, Mortimer wonder how to best use his family's remaining cash. Although his father had spent half of it, Mortimer remained the richest man in town, and his father's investments were beginning to see a return. In the 1920's, he traveled for a year going up and down the west coast, spending a month alone in Los Angeles, where he became enthralled by the art deco style and the roaring cultural scene. He made several wealthy contacts and brought attention to the possibilities of turning Widow's Perch into a resort location. Upon his return, he transformed the sleepy valley into a bustling boom town. Briefly. After only a tenth of a grand hotel that rested under Big Blue was built, the Great Depression hit, and every intrigued investor returned to Los Angeles to manage their dwindling finances.
The Lyons Hotel Resort's frame was left to rot, and Mortimer spent much of his life locked away in his residence, holding out for another chance at leaving his mark on the town. He had two daughters and a son, Kenneth, who would later take his place. Although nothing remains of his hotel, his vision for a renovated downtown came to fruition, and resulted in the modernization of many of its buildings until the city changed again in the 1970's.
Kenneth Lyons (the current patriarch)
By 1985, Kenneth projected himself as an education advocate, and his careful investments into the county's schools showed—although they are not felt as much in the overcrowded and woefully outdated middle school sector. The high schools are steadily improving however, and two of the three elementary schools are among the best in the area. A technophile for his age, Kenneth keeps up to date on the newest models to grace the new computer age, and he ensures that all schools have no computers older than three years in their libraries.
Mr. Lyons' current persona is only the tail end of a long, fascinating life that has already spawned over ten locally written biographies. The few friends that he has left often consider him to be the most interesting person that has ever lived in town. Kenneth left to attend Yale in 1955. Before his father died in 1968, he worked in New York City as a broker on Wall Street, where he had two wives over five years and three children among them. With an empty estate back in Oregon calling him back, he first spent half of his self-made fortunes on a yacht trip around the world, which began in the Hamptons and ended in Key West a year later in 1969, where he arrived just in time to see the moon landing in a resort cabana.
He "settled down," relatively speaking, by 1970 at Blue Sky Manor and married again for only six months (to socialite Simone "Sparks" Gomez, cousin of the mother of Marceline Gomez), having one son that was born after the divorce (Freddy Lyons). However, he was raised on the grounds, and his mother was allowed to stay in one of the many guest houses. Kenneth married his fourth wife in 1984 and had two daughters with her, and remains in matrimony with her up until at least the year 2000.
Kenneth has become somewhat reclusive, and his reputation is greater than his likelihood of appearing in public. His contributions to the town have all been more "under the hood," focused on keeping the investments of his lineage in working order, but he has also helped to bring in more of a corporate presence in effort to further modernize and connect the town. Like those who carried the Lyons name before him, his portrait hangs in the city hall and in Dorkus Withnail College.
He still guides the town from afar, up in Blue Sky Manor, at the base of Big Blue Mountain.
Mayor Rachel Dufoe (the longest serving mayor in town history)
Often mocked as Mayor Doofus, Mayor Rachel Dufoe has nonetheless led the town of Widow's Perch for 17 years by 1987. While not a totally incompetent politician, over the years her multiple failed revitalization projects for the area have left their mark on her reputation. At different times she has tried to attract industry and income (outside of lumber) through attempts to make the town an artist's colony, a commercial hub, a hiking destination, and even a retirement community. Unfortunately for her, the town simply isn't big enough and is too close to other major Oregon cities, so none of these initiatives carry much success and there is often a mass groan from the citizens of Widow's Perch at the phrase, "a new revitalization project..."
Clive Yeats Harrow
Little is known about this mysterious town figure outside of his widely spread legend, his name on a 1875 census, and an old photograph that may or may not be of him. While many believe he lives on as a ghost haunting the Widow's March hiking trail, scholars of the town suggest he was simply a businessman living in the area and working in the lumber industry when he died of tuberculosis in 1875. But that's not as much fun.
Salem (state capital and largest neighboring city)