Philomath ranks No. 4 on a list of the best places to live in Oregon. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Those of us with a Philomath address realize it’s a pretty great place to live. Sure, we might be a little biased because it’s the place we call home but it turns out that our town ranks pretty high when you take a close look at critical livability metrics.

Earlier this summer, a new list of the 10 best places to live in Oregon in 2023 went online as a result of work by HomeSnacks. Based on the data, Philomath ranks No. 4.

Much like the Stacker stories that appear regularly in the Philomath News, HomeSnacks specializes in data journalism reporting with a particular focus on communities.

To come up with the best places to live in Oregon, HomeSnacks looked at home values, crime rates and quality of life. Unemployment rates, education and available housing also factored into the rankings.

Sherwood, Lake Oswego and West Linn took the top three spots in the rankings — which mirror the results from the previous year. Philomath also held steady at No. 4 with a “SnackAbility” score of 9 out 10. One of the top scores related to a low crime rate. Based on 2021 numbers, Philomath’s crime rate was reported as 44.3% below the national average and 54.3% lower than the Oregon average.

Here’s a rundown of the data used by HomeSnacks to determine Philomath’s score.

By the way, Corvallis ranked No. 27, Albany was No. 44 and Lebanon was No. 59 among the 73 cities that qualify for a listing. Sweet Home was No. 72 and Ontario was last at No. 73.

The missing person’s poster for Patricia Swanberg from the Corvallis Police Department. (Image provided by Corvallis Police Department)

2. Missing woman

A few days ago, the Corvallis Police Department sent out a press release to the media about a woman named Patricia Lynn Swanberg who went missing 31 years ago.

“The Corvallis Police Department is still actively investigating this case, however new information is becoming difficult to come by and we are hoping someone in the community who may know something can come forward, anonymously if needed,” CPD wrote. “While Patricia has been gone for some time, she is not forgotten and she has always been on our mind. We would like to help bring Patricia home.”

Police said that Swanberg, who was 34 at the time, was reported missing by her employer Aug. 12, 1992 when she didn’t show up for work. Her vehicle was found unlocked in downtown Corvallis with her purse and other personal belongings inside.

“Patricia’s family believes she is no longer alive, however the location of her remains are unknown,” police said. “Patricia is survived by two sons and siblings who have maintained interest in finding Patricia, wherever she may be.”

Corvallis Police led an intensive investigation with the help of surrounding agencies — it would make sense that Philomath would be involved in some manner. Officers and detectives conducted area searches, did interviews and reviewed financial records.

“Detectives identified a significant person of interest in this case,” police said. “However, this person is now deceased. Work on this case has been ongoing as new details, technologies and practices emerge.”

If anyone has information, contact Det. Christy Molina at 541-766-6782, or P.O. Box 1083, Corvallis, OR 97339. An online comments form can be accessed here

From police: “You can remain anonymous if you desire. We just want to find Patricia.”

Silver Falls State Park recently opened a new day-use area and trail in the North Canyon area. (Photo provided by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department)

3. Silver Falls

One of the spots that we most often visit when out-of-state family and friends visit is Silver Falls State Park, which is a little more than an hour’s drive from Philomath. It’s a relatively easy walk from the parking area to the very scenic South Falls area with its 177-foot waterfall. It’s a must to walk down and underneath.

I haven’t visited the North Falls but that will need to go on the list of places to try out. Just recently, the new North Rim Trail was completed, a quarter-mile walk with an easy grade (less than 5%) that connects to an overlook of the falls. Oregon State Parks has done various improvements to that section, including a new day-use area with a dozen picnic tables and 59 new parking spots. It also links to the park’s nature play area. Plus, you can access the Canyon Trail and the Trail of the Ten Falls.

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, Salem’s Night Sky 45 Astronomy Club will be at the South Falls day-use area from 8-11 p.m. for stargazing (they suggest bringing a flashlight and a blanket or chairs). The event is free (but of course, you’ll need to pay the $5 parking permit fee).

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.