By 9 a.m. people began to trickle into the Best Western parking lot on Gateway Blvd. They were some of the hundreds of patrons who had bought rooms around Cottage Grove, creating booked hotels. Hours before, Dutch Bros. had recalled the eclipse glasses it had given out the sat before.
Along Interstate-5, cars pulled to the side of the road despite warnings from state agencies, roadside stops filled up and campsites that had been booked for months hadn't quite found capacity but were buzzing nonetheless. Businesses along Main St. emptied, bank tellers took to parking lots and folks strolling down the road paused as the temperature dropped, darkness fell and the sun vanished from the sky.
It was the moment the nation had been waiting for after nearly a year of hype and media coverage: the total solar eclipse.
The moon's shadow passed over the sun, blocking it out completely in Salem and other cities in the path of totality. For Cottage Grove, approximately 98 percent of the sun vanished and the phenomenon hit its peak around 10:17 a.m.
The event had been long touted as the greatest tourism event to hit Oregon--the first state to be touched by the nation-spanning eclipse--this summer.
However, despite the hype, traffic jams and gas shortage did not begin last Friday as expected. Traffic kept an even flow and some campsites went unfilled despite reservations that showed a booked space.
While gas stations in Prineville and north of Cottage Grove reported gas shortages by Sunday, the gaggle of tourists did not seem to hit the city as of noon on Monday.
The reason, according to traffic reports around the state may have been that eclipse chasers left the state shortly after the sun emerged from the moon's shadow.
Traffic reports had the Interstate-5 backed up with red traffic alerts by 11 a.m. on Monday with authorities asking the travelers to exercise patience with the clogged roads on their ride home.
The last solar eclipse to sweep across the entire nation occurred in 1918. The next total solar eclipse is set to hit on July 2, 2019--if you happen to be in Chile or Argentina.
For the next chance to spot the phenomenon in the United States, eclipse lovers will have to wait until 2024. By chance you miss that eclipse, the following years will allow the chance to see a total eclipse in the U.S.: 2045, 2052, 2078 and in 2079 there will be a total solar eclipse over the state of Maine.