History of Wasco County, Oregon
by Wm. H. McNeal

Chapter 3
(approximately 38 pages when printed)


     As early as 1811 our historians record the W.P. Hunt Expedition to Oregon, with 80 men, following the Old Oregon Trail west from Independence, Mo., up the Platte; across South Pass in Wyoming, through the Rockies to Fort Hall (Idaho) which they established as one of the Pacific Fur Trading posts. They were guided west by Madam Dorion and she may be credited with "blazing the Old Oregon Trail in 1811." Like Sacajawea who guided Lewis & Clark across the Rookies in Montana and northern Idaho, again a woman was given the inspiration which led the men on through to Oregon, a vast wilderness of the west. In 1812 the British claimed Oregon. Joint occupancy was agreed upon by the treaty of 1818 but during those 6 years the Northwest Fur Co. of Montreal, Canada dominated the Oregon country. In 1821 the Hudson Bay Co. moved in, consolidated with the Northwest Co. and dominated Oregon for the next 22 years until their power was broken by Dr. Marcus Whitman when he led the 1843 emigration from Miss-ouri to The Dalles over the Old Oregon Trail.

Bonneville Expedition

     In 1821 Capt. B.L.E. Bonneville (after whom Bonneville Dam is named) led an expedition, of 160 men over the Old Oregon Trail. He lived for 2 years with the friendly Nez Perce Indians in Idaho. Many of his men joined the Hudson Bay and other outfits and stayed in Oregon as our first settlers.

Other Expeditions

     In 1832 Captain Nathaniel Wyeth (after whom Wyeth is named) followed the Old Oregon Trail to Fort Hall for the American Fur Trading Co. and came on west with Jason Lee and other missionaries. He returned east over the Old Oregon Trail In 1833 for supplies and to make a report to his company and organized a party for 1834 which included the FIRST WAGONS over the Old Oregon Trail brought west by both his party and Dr. Marcus Whitman, a missionary, to Walla Walla with the first white women, except for Madam Dorion who was part white. The J.K. Townsend Naturalist Expedition of 1834; other Missionary expeditions of 1838 and 1840; the Chas. Wilks expedition of 1841 were all over the Old Oregon Trail. Then in 1842 Dr. Marcus Whitman made his mid-winter trip east to plead with Pros. Tyler to keep Oregon for the U.S. and pledged to lead the first big emigration by wagons over the Old Oregon Trail from Missouri to The Dalles in 1843, which he did.

First Big Emigration

     It was 1788 miles from Independence, Mo. to The Dalles, Oregon Territory. Dr. Whitman had left word in Missouri, as he went east in 1842, that he would return in the spring to lead emigrants to Oregon and to be assembled and ready to go as early as possible next spring (1843). Among those emigrants appeared Joel Palmer (see biography of on page 81) and he kept a detailed diary of the journey. In 1841 when he returned east for his family, he published his "Guide For Emigrants", which explained in detail all the needs for the journey thus eliminating lots of suffering by helping them to be properly prepared and the "Palmer Guide for Emigrants" was a "best seller" in the east for the next 30 years. This first emigration of 1843 was also accompanied by the Freemont military expedition with illuminated Indian dangers to The Dalles.

     The Old Oregon Trail was the best known and most widely publicized of all our pioneer trails and roads. Independence, Mo. was its eastern terminus and The Dalles, Oregon was its western terminus. Lovers of Wasco county history should NEVER forget that important historical fact. Being the most historic and widely publicized road in America it is little wonder that all the western cities of Oregon and Washington claim they were the terminus. Their claim is no more justified than would be a claim of New York City or Boston as an eastern terminus, "Just because some New York emigrant might have drove west to Independence and thence to The Dalles as an emigrant."

     Upon reaching The Dalles the emigration of 1843, 1844 and 1845, either walked over the cow (cattle) trails to Oregon City or floated down the Columbia river on rafts. There was no wagon road of any kind, west of The Dalles in those years, so we can't see how, by any stretch of the imagination, other Oregon and Washington cities have any claim as a "Western Terminus" for the Old Oregon Trail! Even after the Barlow toll road was built across the Cascades from Wamic to Oregon City in 1846.

     The Dalles was still the end of the Old Oregon Trail, and continues to be to this date (1952) for highway 30, west from The Dalles to Astoria, Oregon, on the coast, is known as the Columbia River Highway and NOT the Old Oregon Trail, despite the tin markers erected on the Columbia river highway giving the public mis-leading information.


     As stated above, the distance from Independence, Mo., the eastern terminus of the Old Oregon Trail to The Dalles, the western terminus of the Old Oregon Trail is given in all our histories - 1788 miles. From Independence to the Kansas river it was 81 miles; from the Kansas to the Big Blue river 93 miles; from there to the Big Crossing 120 miles; to the Lower Crossing 45 miles; south fork to the north fork of the Platte 20 miles; Ash Hollow to Chimney Rock 58; from thereto Scotts Bluff 25; to Fort Laramie 36; Ft. Laramie to North Fork of Platte 128; from there to Independence Rock 45; to South Pass 109; South Pass to Ft. Bridger 114; Ft. Bridger to Soda Springs 136; Soft Springs to the California Junction 6 miles; from the Junction to Fort Hall (Pocatello, Idaho)58; Fort Hall to Snake River 162 miles; Snake river to Ft. Boise 116; Fort Boise to Grande Ronde (La Grande, Ore.) 132; La Grande to Umatilla river 50 miles; Umatilla river to The Dalles 115; total 1788.

     If Oregon City had been the terminus histories would have quoted the mileage as 1888. If Astoria were the terminus it would have been listed in histories as 1988, and the same for Washington points. We should not be quite ready to let other Oregon, Washington or California cities claim terminus honoree The Dalles always was, still is and always will be THE AND OF THE OLD OREGON TRAIL.

Ezra Meeker

     There was probably no greater authority in America than Ezra Meeker, on what constituted the Old Oregon Trail and its terminals! He was a covered wagon pioneer of the big emigration of 1852 from Independence, Mo. to The Dalles, Oregon, where he ABANDONED his wagon (prairie schooner) because there was no fit road west of here to take it over, and continued the journey by boat. In the clipping files of Lulu D. Crandall, early Dalles historian (see page 66 for biography) we find an item of the Chronicle; March 10, 1906:

Ezra Meeker arrived in The Dalles on the Bailey Gatzert with his wagon and oxen for his return trip across the plains. His first trip west was made 54 years ago (1852) when he camped here for the first time. This (The Dalles) WAS THE END OF TIE OLD OREGON TRAIL. He went down the Columbia, by boat, leaving his wagon here. He never found it again. J.L. Kelley, mayor of The Dalles allowed him to park his covered wagon on Liberty street at Union street park, preparatory to the abdication of the band stand and Old Oregon Trail monument. (The band stand was part of the old 4th & Laughlin school.)

     On March 11, 1908 that monument bearing the legend END OF THE OLD OREGON TRAIL, 1843-1906, was dedicated by Ezra Meeker. (The writer of this history has a photo of this dedication ceremony.) The weather was cold and the attendance was small. He said, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here (Lincoln); and may we repeat here on this battlefield of peace, that it was not the bloodiest in history. While Lewis & Clark, 100 years ago (1906) transversed this country, it was the pioneers in great numbers that made it American. In 1843 the first wagons reached THIS SPOT and claimed it for America! I will retrace the Old Oregon Trail but will make no attempt to follow exactly the tracks of the old trail, only parallel on modern roads, and where the trail crosses the road, I shall mark it with a stone marker."

     Ezra Meeker arrived at Indianapolis, Ind. Jan.1907, traveling 2600 miles by oxen and the Jan. 6, 1907 issue of the Indianapolis Star had a full page of photos, among them being Benj. A. Gifford's photo of Meeker dedicating the monument at The Dalles, his historic starting point. The article went on to say that Meeker left his Eddyville, Ind. home in the fall of 1851 for an early spring start to Oregon in 1852. It stated he set 20 markers on the Old Oregon Trail at The Dalles, Pendleton, Baker, Boise, Pocatello, Casper, North Platt, Grand Island. It was a long trip for an old man to make and he was at one time a Printer's Devil on the old Indianapolis Journal. He went on to Washington, D.C. and was photographed on the White House lawn with his ox-team and covered wagon with President Theodore Roosevelt. In New York he had to have a special permit to drive his oxen Buck & Briget down Broadway. These oxen now stand stiff in their hides in the historical museum room at Tacoma, Wash. Before starting on the journey he camped at the Lewis & Clark World Exposition in Portland in 1905 and every day paraded for the fair visitors and training his oxen. He settled definitely the question of the END of the Old Oregon Trail when he said:

     "THE END OF THE OLD OREGON TRAIL IS AT THE DALLES. HERE THE ROAD ENDED. THE EMIGRANTS TOOK SCOWS AND RAFTS ON DOWN THE COLUMBIA TO THE WILAMETTE VALLEY." L.L. Lane said Meeker had his oxen shod at Lane & Sexton's blacksmith shop at 210 Jefferson, both times he was here with them. His next (third) trip was made in March 1910, at which time he dedicated Harbor Rock, at First & Union, from which all surveys in The Dalles were taken.

Meeker's 1910 Trip

     The Oregonian of March 5, 1910 said: Ezra Meeker and his oxen Dave and Andy are about to arrive at The Dalles (by boat) on their trip east over the Old Oregon Trail, a 2200 mile journey to Kaw, Mo. Dave made the trip in 1906 but Andy was bought at Omaha after the other oxen died. They expect to start from The Dalles March 15, reaching Kansas City, Mo. in 6 months. The wagon is a replica of the old trail wagon, with box for forging streams. The trip will cost about $5000 and will be made to mark the trail. In 1906 the attention was toward granite monuments in towns but now he plans to set posts, suitable for monuments or markers with the date, number of the monument and location. He will report to the secretary of war, so that Congress may make an appropriation for work and to make it official. In 1910 he camped on the George Rush lot at 2nd & Jefferson and sold books to pay for the expenses of the trip.

     In 1915 his trip was made by automobile from east to west and helped draw attention to the San Francisco World Fair as well as the Old Oregon Trail. In 1924 at the age of 93 he made his famous "air trip" from east to west, "over the Old Oregon Trail" with Lt. Oakley G. Kelley. In 1926, at the age of 95 he made his last trip by automobile as a representative of the Old Oregon Trail Association. He had obtained the approval of congress to mark highway 30 as the Old Oregon Trail and the U.S. mint coined a special 50¢ piece, which he sold for a dollar, to help raise funds for marking purposes. The banks in The Dalles sold 2000 of the coins (but try and find one today). Mayor P.J. Stadelman welcomed Geo. Johnson, Pres. of the Pioneers' Association and N.J. Sinnott, congressman who, with Meeker, were interested in the project. This last auto trip was from New York to Portland. He spoke at the Elks Temple on his 1926 trip.

     On his 1910 trip east by ox-team, he stopped at Fairbanks for a day or two and interested Isaac Remington in erecting a monument at the intersection between the 15 Mile creek market road and the Old Oregon Trail(Moody) road. Mr. Remington made the monument out of concrete and fashioned an ox yoke, by hand, and attached that to the monument which attracts public attention.

     It was his last (1926) trip for the Old Oregon Trail Association; erecting markers all the way through to Astoria and Seaside, which gave those cities their "claim" as being at the end of the (1926) Old Oregon Trail highway; but not the original emigrant road which ended at The Dalles.

First Emigration Over Old Oregon Trail - 1843

     The Portland Oregonian of June 17, 1875 gave the Col. James W. Nesmith, U.S. Senator from Oregon, version of the first wagon emigration over the Old Oregon Trail in 1843, led by Dr. Marcus Whitman.

     The emigrants of 1843 assembled at Independence, Mo. on the 17 of May, 1843. Notices were posted that a meeting for organization purposes would be held the next day at such a time and place and everyone attended. After the general speeches on the need for going west and the merits of the Oregon country, John Grant was elected Captain. He was an old mountaineer and trapper who had been as far west as Green River (Wyoming) and he assured us of the possibility of getting that far. Green River was NOT half way to the Willamette Valley, but we trusted to the future and followed his leadership. Dr. Marcus Whitman, overtook us before we reached Green River. He was familiar with the whole route and was confident that wagons could get through to Oregon! The road to California was in use from Ft. Hall.

Fort Hall

     Capt. Grant was in charge of the Hudson Bay Co. trading post at Fort Hall (Idaho), the only habitation since leaving Independence. He endeavored to dissuade us from proceeding any further with our wagons. He pointed to a few wagons that the emigrants (missionaries) of 1842 had abandoned there, as evidence of the impracticability of our trying! But Dr. Whitman persisted in his assertions that wagons could get through as far as the Grand Dalles (The Dalles) of the Columbia river, and from which point they could be taken down the Columbia river on rafts or batteaux, to the Willamette Valley, and stock could be driven over the Cascade mountains by Indian trails. Dr. Whitman's advice prevailed and a large number of wagons did reach The Dalles via Walla Walla. Some of the wagons were taken to the Willamette Valley next year:

Chief Sticcus Blazes Trail Over Blue Mountains

     At Fort Hall we were accompanied by Cayuse and Nez Perce Indians, returning from a buffalo hunt on the plains. Dr. Whitman proceeded on to Walla Walla to doctor some sick Indians. He appointed an old Cayuse Indian Chief called Sticcus, who was familiar with all the old Indian Trails and geography of the country from Fort Hall to Walla Walla and The Dalles, as our guide! He could speak no English, and none of us knew any Cayuse, but he safely guided us over the roughest wagon route I ever saw! - to Walla Walla. He was the only Indian I ever saw that I thought had any conception of the Christian religion. He remained neutral during the Cayuse Indian war and did not participate in the Whitman massacre. --- Oregonian June 17, 1875.

Dr. Marcus Whitman

     The account of Dr. Marcus Whitman's ride east in the dead of winter (l842) across the Rocky mountains, Colorado and other rivers to appeal to Pres. Tyler to save Oregon for the Union, and to lead the above 1843 emigrants out, is given on page 3 of this history. There were 1000 emigrants in that first, wagon train. Dr. Whitman was guide, physician, friend, counselor, first up in the mornings and the last in bed after seeing that all was secure for the night. He was attendant for both livestock and humans. He was the pilot at unknown fords. He selected camping spots for noon and night. He was the arbitrator of quarrels, director of procedure, religious leader, human dynamo of eternal strength! It was no wonder that Capt. Grant, at Fort Hall, was dumbfounded with amazement when the wagons and 1000 human beings, headed for Oregon appeared there in 1843, under Dr. Whitman's guidance! The Hudson Bay Co. was "licked by Dr. Whitman" if those emigrants successfully reached Oregon! He was powerless to stop them! On they went to the Blue Mountains. It wasn't Dr. Whitman that took them over the Blue Mountains. It was the old Indian Chief Sticcus, who couldn't even speak English, that found the wagon trail when the Hudson Bay Co. said "it can't be done!" But they cut their way through the Blue Mountain timber in 5 days!

     At Walla Walla the train split and those desiring to float down the Columbia in dugouts, canoes, rafts, batteauxs, went on down to Wallula, under the guidance of Jesse Applegate and embarked on the various river craft to Celilo Falls where they portaged their possessions to The Dalles and awaited the arrival of wagons, led by Col. James W. Nesmith and accompanied by Dr. Marcus Whitman as far as DeMoss Springs, in Sherman county, where he returned to Walla Walla. At The Dalles all the wagons were abandoned. Possessions were placed on log rafts and floated down to the Cascades, portaged, reloaded for the trip on down the river and to Oregon City. Cattle and horses were driven over the Jason Lee cattle trail via Lost Lake, Bull Run river and Sandy to Oregon City. General Freemont's military exploration party followed the emigrants to The Dalles where they camped for 2 or 3 weeks at the Logan Spring (15 & Dry Hollow road) while they went to Vancouver for supplies from the Hudson Bay Co. Nineveh Ford and Jess Applegate families were the first to reach The Dalles in 1843. The Indians, at the mouth of the Deschutes, ferried women and children over in canoes. Oxen waded out to and across the island and to the Wasco county side, the beds floating the wagons. Freemont's soldiers helped them up the mountain at the mouth of the Deschutes. They crossed 15 mile at Fairbanks, followed inland to the mouth of 8 Mile. thence up over the Bettingen flats, through Thompson's Addition to The Dalles. The Methodist Missionaries here gave them a warm greeting and provided some fresh meats and other foods and helped them over the Lee cattle trail.

     The fall rains had set in by the time they reached Vancouver and "took all the emigrant spirits out of them." They were "drowned rats", wet, hungry, cold, in rags, disheartened, sorry looking bunch of American emigrants by the time they reached Vancouver. Dr. John McLaughlin, Chief Factor for the Hudson Bay Co. there, heard of their coming and condition, sent out boats with food and clothing to help them and was personally on hand to greet their arrival and care for the needy and sick. The able bodied went on up the Willamette river to Oregon City where they were soon joined by their cattle drivers and 1300 head of cattle. Next sprint they fanned out and established the first homes in Oregon.

Emigration Over Old Oregon Trail

     In 1844 1500 people and a like number of head of livestock arrived in The Dalles over the Old Oregon Trail. With the help and advise of the missionaries and 1843 emigrants, they made rafts and took most of their wagons on down the Columbia. In 1845 3000 people and a similar number of head of livestock was lead into The Dalles by Samuel K. Barlow and Joel Palmer. Most of these emigrants also floated down the Columbia and drove their livestock over the Lee Trail; but Barlow and Palmer set out to find a pass over the mountains via Wamic and the old Barlow Toll road (see under Wamic), of 1846.

Stephen Meek Train

     Also in 1845 a second emigrant train, called the Stephen Meek "lost train", (mentioned herein on page 147) who took a short cut from the Malheur river across the sagebrush deserts of Central Oregon to the Deschutes river. This "cutoff" cost the lives of more than 50 human beings before they finally reached the Methodist Mission at The Dalles, under guidance of the missionaries and Indians who went to their rescue with food and help. There were 60 wagons in the Meek train and 1000 head of stock. Albert Allen, in an article in the Chronicle in 1921 said, "They made it to the Deschutes river where they forded near Sherar's Bridge, came on into The Dalles and camped where the Umatilla House used to be (First & Union). The women and children were all taken down the river in Indian canoes. The men drove the stock over the Lee trail to Oregon City. There was lots of sickness in the train, in addition to those that died. They suffered nearly as many deaths as the doomed Donner Party (see pages 84 & 85). It was known as the 'Lost Meek Cutoff Train of 1845', but no books have ever been written about it. Their stock was in very poor condition. They sacrificed their wagons and lots of equipment by abandonment at The Dalles. There were about 200 families (1000 people) in the Meek train." The Meek Train was the "Donner Party of Oregon." Like the California Donner party, they left the main road and paid very dearly with lives and health as well as property for having did so.

     In 1846 Joel Palmer established the Columbia river pack trail, down the south bank of the river to the Sandy, for cattle. Samuel K. Barlow and his 50 men finished the Barlow Toll road over the Cascades which was the only wagon road to Portland, from The Dalles, until 1920, except from 1876 to 1879 the Palmer cattle trail down the Columbia was made into a passable summer road for about 3 years. A road also existed from Wapinitia to Government Camp, where it joined with the Barlow road. In 1846 the Jesse Applegate Southern Oregon route to the Medford area was established, but that route was infested with hostile Indians which prevented general use until after the Bannock Indian wars of 1872.

     The emigration over the Old Oregon Trail to The Dalles in 1846 was 2000 people and a similar number of head of livestock. Most, but not all, followed the Barlow Toll road to the Valley. The emigration of 1847 was about the same as the year before. The Cayuse Indian War of 1848 prevented emigration to Oregon, most of them turning south at Fort Hall for California. In 1849 another 2000 emigrants came to Oregon but 20,000 turned off at Fort Hall for the Gold Fields of California! Col. W.W. Loring arrived at The Dalles in the fall of 1849 with 600 soldiers, wagons, scouts, teams, horses and supplies. He established forts at Laramie and Ft. Hall to protect emigrants, as well as at The Dalles, upon recommendation of Gen. B.E.L. Bonneville (after whom Bonneville Dam is named). The Dalles was the PIVOT or KEY center around which all forts of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana centered and from which they received their supplies! In 1850 more soldiers case (see under pages 5 to 10). In 1850 most of the emigrants continued on to California gold fields but about 1000 passed through The Dalles in a starving ragged condition and were given flour, salt pork, rice, beans and coffee by Fort Dalles military authorities. They had to trade clothing and blankets to pay tolls over the Barlow road. There was a "notable increase" in emigration for 1851 which we interpret to mean in the 3000 bracket. The BIG MIGRATION of 1852 brought 18,000 people over the Old Oregon Trail through The Dalles; and as Ezra Meeker has stated, not al1 of them went over the Barlow road. Some left their wagons here and went down river by boats, which were operating on the river by that time. Emigrants continued to arrive in substantial numbers until the Yakima Indian war of 1856 when none arrived due to the war. From then on to the coming of the railroads in 1884 all covered wagon emigration was classified as "pioneers." Rail and Boat emigrants were in a "different classification". Emigration to Oregon over the Old Oregon Trail has FEVER CEASED, they still (1952) arrive by the hundreds in Oregon every day of the year, over the Old Oregon Trail'. Even our daily papers cease to pay any attention to emigration to Oregon. They are more interested in what the King of Siam has to say about the Duke of Singapore, or what some drunken man did in N.Y.

The Longest Graveyard In America

     The Old Oregon Trail is the longest graveyard in America, 1788 miles! More than 30,000 pioneers are buried along the Old Oregon Trail! The Christian Bible says it took the Children of Israel 40 years to go 200 miles from Egypt to Cannan. Dr. Marcus Whitman led the American "Children of Israel" 2000 miles in 180 days, blazing a trail down which 500,000 people went in 40 years; and several million traveled it the next 40 years and are still traveling it by the millions! There has been no migration in known history that has any parallel to that of the Old Oregon Trail! There was a lot of preliminary work done by the higher raised Angel-spirits of the higher Heavens, to inspire the many thousands of pioneer emigrants to leave the comforts of home, friends and relatives for new homes out in Oregon. Even the magic word of Gold wouldn't have been enough to cause home-loving people to leave their fire-sides in the east, 20 years before the Civil War, when the country was at peace and plenty and happiness. It was a well-planned migration, of the cream of America, people who were high-raised enough spiritually to receive and act on Heavenly inspiration. Is it therefore any wonder that the descendants of these pioneers are people who set high raised patterns in government, business and leadership, found in no other place, in America?

Perils Of The Trail

     Cholera and Mountain Fever (typhoid) took the greatest toll. Cholera works on the digestive system and is a highly infectious and fatal disease caused by "comma Bacillus" bacteria, traced to bad food and drinking water. Typhoid is a blood disease (poisoned blood) which results in high fevers and death. In 1852, one train of 11 wagons returning to Independence, were being driven by women, all the men having died of Cholera. That year was the worst with thousands dying. The strongest and healthiest men were the first victims to be laid in shallow graves!, with a "Died from Cholera" headboard. These headboards could be read all the way from Missouri to the Rockies! The Chinese Wall is the longest graveyard in the world, but the Old Oregon Trail is the longest in America!


     The grim journey always had hostile Indians to think about. In most cases Indians were harmless or at worst only horse thieves; but the very thoughts of Indians attacking and scalping victims was an eternal nightmare of the trip, especially for the women. Emigrants themselves brought on many of the Indian depredations by "indiscriminately shooting at Indians just to try out their rifles!" Too many emigrants felt that "the only good Indian was a dead Indian!" This attitude of war led to encounters and massacres in which wagon trains were attacked and burned and emigrants killed or scalped in retaliation for shooting at the Indians. Emigrants never knew whether an approaching Indian party meant war or peace. Our good books say, "what-so-ever you soweth, that shall ye also reap!" Too many emigrant parties sowed war and their followers reaped war! This war policy was sowed at Plymouth Rock and now our entire lives and most of our income is devoted to war economy! Will we never learn to sow the seeds of peace so that we can reap peace end plenty?


     Emigrants were familiar with the days when the heavens would blacken over, electric cannonading would cut loose terrifying man and beast alike! Then water would pour out of the skies in sheets! The level ground would be ankle deep in water in all directions! Bedding, clothing and belongings would be drenched! The howling winds would chill to the bone and pneumonia victims would be laid to rest in the long graveyard. Women and children suffered greatly by storms. Men always had the cattle to round up! Water was contaminated by the storms! Trains that started late were caught by mountain snows in Oregon! Many military expeditions had to live in tents, on the plains, in snow and blizzards!


     In this day and age of concrete ribbons of highways and easy riding "glass chariots" with foam rubber cushions, we don't understand what a dusty rough road means! Emigrant schooners had no springs under the bodies. The Old Oregon Trail was full of ruts and strewn with rocks! Traveling at the rate of 3 or 4 miles an hour oxen dragged their feet in the dust at every step! If there were 2 teams of oxen on 200 wagons that means 3200 pairs of hoofs churning up the dust of the road! At 4 miles an hour you can't get away from dust! Emigrant trains were engulfed in clouds of dust visible for 50 miles! That dust got into the drinking water, food, clothing, bedding, hair, nostrils, eyes, mouth, shoes, everywhere, all the time, all day long; day after day, week after week, month after month! Was it any wonder that the human body weakened and the graveyard lengthened? Ezra Meeker said, "The dust has been spoken of as intolerable. A wagon train was a moving mass of humanity and dumb brutes in confusion, 100 feet wide; and sometimes two columns of wagons traveled parallel near each other so as to keep loose stock in between them. The dust would settle so thick that the lead team of oxen could not be seen from the wagon! It was often like a London fog, so thick one might almost cut it with a knife. Alkali dust would form a crust and look like snow. The hands and lips would get sore from it."


     There were long stretches of the Old Oregon Trail without water and when children cried for a drink there was nothing to give them! Not every night stop was a place where stock could be watered so they had to go thirsty, despite the heat, and often died leaving the Old Oregon Trail lined with the whitened bones of livestock! The branch from Fort Hall to California was worse then the Oregon road, as much of the water and dust was alkali and or unfit to drink.


     There was no restaurants or hotels out in that wilderness then as now, for the emigrant. They had to carry enough supplies to reach Oregon! That meant 200 pounds of flour per person, 75 pounds of Meal and the same of bacon, 10 pounds of rice, at least 5 of coffee or tea, 25 of sugar, 2 bushel of beans, a bushel of dried fruit, 10 pounds of salt, a bushel of corn and the same of corn meal; 2 kegs for water. Some game meat such as buffalo, antelope, deer, grouse, sage hens, were counted on for fresh meat or a beef was killed and divided up for use before it spoiled. Generally some cows gave enough milk for the children; the amount depending on grass and water conditions. Sometimes wagons or supplies were lost in river fords, stampedes or run-aways, or Indian attacks. Under those conditions they had to live on shorter rations and often emigrant trains arrived at The Dalles in a starving condition and with few rags on their backs for clothes. Joel Palmer's Guide For Emigrants recommended, "a good wagon with 3 inch bolted tires, with a bed 12 to 18 feet long and 5 feet wide and bows for a canvas cover. Oxen stand the trip better than horses requiring less food and Missouri Oxen were the best as they were used to eating prairie grass; they should not be over 8 years old and at least 4 to a wagon with as many extra head of cattle for the Oregon home. Each family needed a stove and a wagon platform to set it on. Each needed a tent, cooking utensils, 2 churns, 2-10 gallon water kegs, ax, shovel, augers, saw, plow moulds, rope, extra boots, shoes and clothing, bedding, gun & ammunition, medicine, food for 5 months. Missouri oxen were worth $25 each. St. Joe was the best outfitting place."

Service Stations

     The emigrants of 1843 found only 4 "service stations" on the Old Oregon Trail between Independence, Mo., and The Dalles, Oregon Territory. These were at Fort Bridger, an island in the Green River on the eastern boundary of Old Wasco County and on the Old Oregon Trail; the second station was at Fort. Hall, near Pocatello, Idaho; the third was Dr. Marcus Whitman's Mission at Walla Walla and the Methodist Mission at The Dalles. Not many supplies were obtainable at any of these stations but the sight and-knowledge of the existence of white people, in that vast expanse of wilderness, was comfort. The Fort Hall station was near the California Junction and widely known to both California and Oregon emigrants. Not all the emigrants passed Dr. Whitman's Mission at Walla Walla as later the road came through Pendleton and Pilot Rock cutoff.

Fort Bridger

     Fort Bridger was operated by Jim Bridger (1804-1881) native of Richmond, Va. who came west to St. Louis, Mo. with his father Jim (1812) and the next year his parents died leaving him an orphan boy of 13 in a wild frontier town. Friends apprenticed him as a blacksmith and he followed that trade without any further education in-so-far as book learning was concerned. Then one day in 1820 his attention was called to an advertisement in a St. Louis paper asking for 100 men for the fur trading and trapping business. He signed up and trapped from Canada to Mexico and the Missouri river to Idaho. He was the first white man to see Salt Lake (1824). He knew Scott who starved to death near Scotts Bluff (1825) not far from Fort Laramie which was established in 1849 the same year Fort Dalles was established.

     He had been out in the "great and lonely wilderness of the west" more than 20 years, when he established his Fort or trading post on an island in the Green River (l843) on the Old Oregon Trail and near the east boundary of old Wasco county (1854), which extended to Green River summit of the Rocky Mountains near Emigrant Gap. Wm. S. Brackett of the Montana Historical Society, calls Jim Bridger "the Daniel Boone of the Rocky Mountains." He was the central and permanent figure in all the historical events of any importance, in that area, for 50 years! Judge Brackett camped with him at Clearwater and Pratt rivers in 1862 when he served as a federal Judge for Utah. General Benjamin E.L. Bonneville, after whom Bonneville Dam is named, came west with Jim Bridger in 1832 and 1833. Mr. Brackett claimed that Jim Bridger's historical knowledge and geographical knowledge was just as important and interesting as that of Kit Carson or Buffalo Bill Cody! -or any other frontiersman in American history! He was only a 16 year old boy when he went into the Rocky mountains as a partner Fitzpatrick for the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. By 1830 he was "a leader of mountaineer trappers". He was guide and leader for the Nathaniel Wyeth expedition, the General Benj. Bonneville expedition, Dr. Marcus Whitman first guide west, guide for the Freemont expedition, for the Donner Party to Fort Bridger and had they followed his advice they would have arrived safely in California. He led the Mormons to Salt Lake Valley and in appreciation the Mormons run him away from Fort Bridger so they could have the exclusive trading rights with the emigrants. Fort Bridger was a mud and rock fort abode, on an island in the Black Fork of the Green River, fortified by a picket fence and gate. His place was an OASIS in the desert! It was a trading post for both the Indians and white emigrants. He was a very hospitable man and everyone, but the Mormons, had nothing but words of praise for him.

     Capt. Gunnison of the U.S. Army said, "He was one of the oldest men in the area. He was a wonderful guide and natural born topographer, the whole west and all of its mountain passes, streams, lakes, were mapped in his mind! His sense of direction was so great that he claimed he could 'smell his way if he couldn't see it.' He could take a piece of charcoal and a buffalo hide, and draw a detailed map of any part of the west! -- and include on that map the mountains, valleys, creeks, rivers and lakes! After the Mormons run him away from Fort Bridger, shortly after Wasco county was formed in 1854, he went back to where his brother and sister lived at Kansas City for a short time and then became a government scout. He had guided Stanbury's Expedition to Utah in 1849. In 1857-58 he was scout for Johnson's U.S. Army invasion of Utah and Jim was reported to have "really enjoyed that assignment and the opportunity to get even with the Mormons." In 1868 General Sherman, of Civil War fame, consulted Jim Bridger in regard to Indian war campaigns, and very closely followed Jim's advise which brought victory to the troops. In 1859-60 he was guide for Reynold's Yellowstone Park Expedition.

Yellowstone Park

     Jim Bridger discovered Yellowstone Park, (a part of Old Wasco County in 1854) and he called it "Fire-hole Valley" in 1840 and 1844 when he made his first visits there. He made a very accurate description of what he saw there and its general location, -- but nobody believed him! They thought he had "mountain fever of the head!" He keenly felt this suspicion cast upon his honesty and truthfulness; so he retaliated by inventing the PAUL BUNYAN STORIES OF THE WEST! The big blue ox was the emigrant-wagon ox transposed to fit his stories! Jim Bridger was PAUL BUNYAN! His imagination run wild on just what Paul and that big Blue Ox could do! How they scraped out Great Salt Lake; how they made the Colorado river canyon; how they made the mountain peaks of Colorado; how they cleared the timber from the plains; these, and a thousand other stories he told for the next 40 years, to anyone who cared to listen to the "big tales" of the west and he always had an audience. He became known as the "greatest liar that ever lived." But the real Jim Bridger was a tall, erect, active man of long hair, grey eyes, mild expression, kindly, helpful, generous, hospitable, respected by both whites and Indians alike, friend and confident of all (except the Mormons). Government expedition reports testified that he was truthful, accurate, trustworthy; that his idle tales were for idle hours. He never betrayed anybody, never was untrue to any but the tenderfoot who enjoyed his Paul Bunyan stories and helped pass them on. He guided N.P. Langford of St. Paul, first Yellowstone Park Superintendent to the park in 1865. He established the 967 mile Bozeman road to Virginia City, Mont. (1886). He retired to Kansas City in 1868. He had 3 Indian wives. His only daughter was massacred at Walla Walla (1847). He is another of the Lost Outstanding Men in the 100 Years of Wasco County History!

The Bonneville Expedition

     Our histories are full of these early expeditions into the west, over the Old Oregon Trail. We mention the Bonneville expedition because they brought the FIRST WAGONS west to Oregon in 1832! Gen. Benjamin L.H. Bonneville, after whom Bonneville Dam is named, was born in France (1795), was a West Point military graduate and followed the army life as a career. Jim Bridger was guide for his expedition (1832) from Missouri to Idaho and gave Gen. Bonneville all the military details he needed to know about the country. Later when Col. W.W. Loring was sent west to establish Forts at Laramie, Fort Hall, Fort Boise, Fort Dalles, Fort Walla Walla, Fort Simcoe, Fort Vancouver and the rest in that 1850 period, it was Gen. Bonneville who knew where they ought to be located and WHY. He and his 110 man expedition, 20 wagons, horses and oxen, traveled west in 2 columns, with loose stock between the wagons, and front and rear guards. The expedition stayed with the Nez Perce Indians for 2 years, on the Salmon river in Idaho. They were reported to be the best Indians in the U.S. at that time! They were very religious and intelligent Indians. A number of his men married Indian girls and stayed with the tribe, while others joined up with the Hudson Bay Co. and other expeditions to remain in the west with their Indian wives. The Nez Perce Indians had a "western paradise" with plenty to eat, good horses, good people and the men didn't want to leave after the 2 year visit." Gen. Bonneville returned to Oregon in 1850 and was stationed at Fort Vancouver. After the Indian wars of 1858 he returned east and died at Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1870.

Fort Hall

     Fort Hall, near Pocatello, Idaho, was better known to more emigrants than any of the other early forts. It was established by the W.P. Hunt expedition in 1811. It changed hands and by 1832 the Hudson Bay Co. acquired ownership which they retained for the next 20 years. Fort Hall was near the California Junction of the Old Oregon Trail, so the emigrants going both ways knew Fort Hall. It sold supplies, at a high figure, due to its distance from supply points on the Columbia river. The remains of Fort. Hall are still in existence and can be seen by tourists enroute to Yellowstone.

Whitman Mission

    The Marcus Whitman Mission at Walla Walla was established in 1834 and remained operative for 13 years, until the massacre of Dr. Whitman and his wife, Jim Bridger's only daughter who had gone to school there and 12 other persons, in November 1847 by the Cayuse Indians. After the conclusion of the Cayuse Indian war of 1848 the Old Oregon Trail took the shorter route through Pendleton, Pilot Rock, Wells Spring, Willow Creek, Rock Creek, Leonard ferry on John Day, the Deschutes and The Dalles. Walla Walla became the Mullen Trail junction with the Old Oregon Trail.

Mullen Trail

     Capt. John Mullen was ordered to Oregon (l853) with orders to build a road from Fort Benton, near Great Falls, Mont., on the Missouri river to Walla Walla, a distance of 700 miles! It was to be used for military and emigration purposes in place of the Old Oregon Trail. Mullen built a passable road. Bancrofts Oregon History says, "Next to the Old Oregon Trail, the Mullen road was the greatest factor in developing the Pacific northwest." Many thousands of emigrants used the road to Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon. Capt. Mullen outfitted at The Dalles for his expeditions and work. The route he founded from Walla Walla to Great Falls is now used by both highway and railroad via Spokane, Missouri. After the completion of this road job he came back to Oregon and became Secretary of State in the 1870's and Oregon did not pay him all his salary. In 1907 he became old, paralyzed and destitute and ex-Governor Zenith Moody of The Dalles helped enact legislation which paid him the $9465.97 the state owed him. --- Lulu Crandall clippings, Dalles Chronicle 1907.

The Covered Wagon

     The emigrant covered wagon, known as the "linch-pin wagon", was made at Conestoga, Penn. and known as the Conestoga wagon. The wheels of this wagon was held on the hubs by linch pins instead of burrs or large nuts. The could haul up to 5 tons and 4 to 8 oxen or horses could be worked on them. They had sloping sides to keep the contents from shifting around. Bows were provided to stretch canvass over. They were made from 12 to 16 foot long. The canvass tops were laid over the bows lengthwise. They were fastened on to the sides and had draw strings at the rear to pull the canvass tight together and through which children could stick their heads. A cover over the hole protected the contents of the wagon from dust. Other less popular wagons were the Bain, Peter Schutter, Rushford, Studebaker. The Studebaker people continued to make farm wagons and buggies and now make automobiles, over 100 years in the transportation know-how business! The lumber in the studebaker wagons were seasoned for 3 years! Tires on the studebaker were narrower than the Bain and Conestoga. Lots of the Prairie Schooners were privately made by wagonsmiths. Robin's egg blue was a popular pain color for the wagons. Oak and hickory were used for wheels and axels. The first wagons had no metal thimbles, the wooden wheel hubs turning on the wooden axels which had to be greased with beef or deer tallow twice a day. They squeaked and squawked all the way across the plains from morning to night, each wheel singing a different tune. Emigrants couldn't forget the squeaks of their wagons. They had no springs and the sick people felt every bump.

Did You ever cross the plains,
Where they wear the hickory shirt,
Where their eyes get used to smoke
And the face begrimed with dirt?
And making children cry?

Have you camped out in a storm
When the wind was blowing high,
Upsetting tents and wagons
And making children cry?

Did your wagons tip up endwise,
As you rattled down the hill;
Or did you let them down with ropes
In places steeper still?

Belle Cook.

The Old Oregon Trail From Fort Hall Nest

     The Old Oregon Trail followed on the south side of the Snake river from Fort Hall, sometimes close to it and sometimes several miles, away. There were several streams along the trail which furnished camping places so travelers did not have to depend upon the Snake for water. After Ft. Hall came Ft. Boise, 49 Ranch, Sulphur Springs, Crystal Sprint. The trail crossed the Owyhee river 2 miles above the mouth. It crossed the Malheur at Vale and continued to pull away from the Snake to higher ground. After crossing Willow creek, near the summit between Willow and Birch creeks, the trail turns toward the Snake. It follows the Snake several miles to Farewell Bend (Olds Ferry) where it crossed the divide and down to Burnt river at Hunington. From there it continued up the Burnt river to Siley creek, around high mountain and back to Burnt river; down past Durkee, over the ridge to Alder creek; up Alder creek several miles to Mud Springs; on to Powder river and Baker valley.

     Leaving Powder river valley it crossed over some tablelands 6 or 7 miles to Powder river again, crossing it to the North Powder river; Wolf creek; Clover creek near Ladd Canyon; on down one of the worst and steepest hills I have ever seen into the Grand Ronde valley to La Grande; up the Blue Mountains to Emigrant Springs at the summit; down an easy grade to Meacham; Camp Pendleton; Pilot Rock; across Bunch grass hills to Wells Springs where Col. Gilliam was killed in 1848 accidentally; Willow creek at Cecil; Rock creek south of Arlington; Leonard's Ferry on John Day river; up Cottonwood canyon to Webfoot Spring where (1864) the road forked 5 miles west of the John Day, one fork followed Grass Valley Canyon to Buck Hollow, Sherars Bridge across the Deschutes river, Tygh, Wamic and the Harlow road to Oregon City; the north fork followed down Spanish Hollow, Price's, Stage Station, Biggs, Deschutes river crossing (ford, then ferry, then bridge) at the mouth, up and over the mountain to Fairbanks on 15 Mile creek; across 8 Mile at Hogedon's Stage station at its mouth and on into The Dalles following close to the edge of the bluff overlooking the Columbia river. --- George Chandler, Portland Oregonian, January 5, 1924; Portland Library.

     Those wishing to go from The Dalles on to Oregon City, from 1843 to 1846, floated down the Columbia on rafts, batteaux or in Indian dugouts or canoes. From 1846 to 1921 they could either go down the Columbia by steamboat or go south through Dufur, Tygh, to Wamic and the Old Barlow Toll road to Oregon City or via Wapinitia to Government Camp and the Barlow road; and after 1882 they could also take the railroad west into Portland and Oregon City. During the summers of 1846, 77, 78 wagons could also follow Joel Palmers wagon road down the Columbia gorge. In 1879 he sold his toll road to the O.R. & N. railroad. Joel Palmer first established his toll cattle trail in 1863 with ferries at Hood River and Troutdale.

     The State of Oregon established the road between The Dalles and Hood River in 1867 and it ran on out through Dufur, Kingsley, Tygh, to the Barlow road at Wamic. From 1863 to 1867 the road to Hood River was a part of Palmer's Toll road. While Joel Palmer and Samuel K. Barlow founded the road between here and Wamic in 1843 that section remained a free public road, such as it was, for 24 years until the State of Oregon took it over in 1867 and its still (1952) a state public road, which we call the Old Dufur Road.

The Puget Sound Branch

     The Puget Sound branch of the Old Oregon Trail branched off at Walla Walla in 1854 and after crossing the Columbia river by ferrying wagons over and swimming livestock, they went up the Yakima River Valley, took the Nacres Pass across the Cascades to Puget Sound and Seattle points. This road was closed for the next 2 years by the Yakima Indian war and was not extensively used until the 1860's. Ezra Meeker went to the Puget Sound area in 1852; finally settling at Tacoma, but they had to make the trip by boat, west from the Dalles and Portland, as did most of the emigrants during the 1850's.

The Barlow Road

     In 1845 Samuel K. Barlow and Joel Palmer arrived with their train at The Dalles only to find but two small scows ferrying emigrant wagons down the Columbia! The ferry price was high. The time required for a round-trip of the scows to Cascade Locks and back took from 3 to 4 days under favorable conditions! The number of wagons they could haul was limited to 7 or 8, depending on size! The waiting list was long, yes a mile long! Winter was coming on and would be here before their turn on the scows came! He was told about the Indian trails and they considered abandoning their wagons and packing across the trail via Hood River, Lost Lake, Bull Run to Oregon City. They wanted their wagons. Barlow claimed "God never made a mountain without making a pass over it." It was just a matter of finding that pass and cutting their way through it, or following trails through it. If they had to abandon their wagons they might as well be in the mountains as at The Dalles. They send their loose cattle on via the Lee cattle trail and instructed the drivers to return with provisions to Mt. Hood where they would meet. No provisions could be bought at The Dalles as only the Methodist Mission existed here at that time and they were limited in the amount of food and garden produce they had.

     Barlow was advised of the South Indian trail on the south side of Mt. Hood and how to get to it from Tygh via Wamic. They set out Sept. 24 with 7 wagons, 19 people and their stock for Tygh where they camped and explored the Barlow route. Joel Palmer followed Barlow with 23 wagons, 15 families, after sending their extra stock down by the Lee (Lost Lake) Trail with instructions also to their drivers to return with provisions and help for the roadbuilders. From Smock Prairie the tree cutting was hard and slow. Swamps near the summit bogged them down. Then it snowed on them and they finally had to cache their wagons and many of their possessions, take what they could carry and push on over the mountain on foot and by ox pack train, returning next spring to finish cutting a road for the wagons. They managed to slip and slide down Laurel Hill to where their cattle drivers met them with help and supplies, and they went on to Oregon City.

     The emigrants who went down the Columbia cut a road from the Cascades to Vancouver on the north shore of the river, which speeded up arrival via that route into Vancouver, with wagons and oxen, 1843.

Toll Road License

     Joel Palmer and Samuel K. Barlow appeared before the Provincial legislature in session at Oregon City in January 1846 and argued for the need of a toll road over the Cascades so emigrants could come on over the mountains to Oregon City, as the legislature had no money to construct such a road themselves. They asked for a franchise to construct and maintain a toll road. S.K. Barlow and Phillip Foster were granted the franchise. Soon as the weather broke in the spring of 1846 they took 50 men, saws, axes and supplies and hewed a passable wagon trail to where they left their wagons the fall before. It was a one-way road west on account of Laurel hill being so steep that wagons had to be let down it on ropes wrapped around the trees: Evidence of bark burned off the trees on Laurel Hill is still (1952) visible after 109 years! Pack trains to the mines in 1862 used both the Palmer toll road up the Columbia river gorge as well as the Barlow toll road. Light rigs, such as buggies with 4 horses could travel east over it. It remained a toll road from 1848 to 1909, 63 years. The first tolls, were $5 a wagon, "cash or kind", with livestock at 1O¢ a head. In 1860 the tolls were reduced to $2.50 per wagon. In 1919 the road was taken over by the State of Oregon. The west toll gate was at Gate Creek on Smock Prairie, back of Wamic. This gate could be by-passed so they later established the toll gate at Sandy where the river and ferry helped with collections, at the function of Sandy and Eagle Creek roads where a marker says, "FOSTER'S PLACE AND THE BARLOW ROAD, this is the place where Phillip Foster took his Donation Land Claim. Starting at this point Foster and Samuel K. Barlow built a toll road, a cutoff on the Old Oregon Trail. It crossed the Cascades to avoid the dangers and hardships of the Columbia river gorge.

     "More than 152 wagons reached the Willamette Valley over this cutoff in 1846, the first of thousands to follow. Foster's place became well known. Here hungry and travel-worn emigrants obtained fresh vegetables and fruit. Here they found rich pasture for their trail-worn livestock. Foster's place and the Barlow road played important roles in the history and development of the Oregon country." --- Erected October 1946 by Oregon Council, American Pioneer Trails Association.

     The marker of bronze is embedded to a boulder. The tablet was donated by Claude Sersanous of the Oregon Council. E.L. Myers occupies the Foster homestead, Mrs. Myers being a granddaughter of Phillip Foster. The members of the organization made a trip from The Dalles to Oregon City over the Old Barlow road in 1946 and included members from N.Y., Mo., Kan., Neb., and Wyo. Joel Palmer climbed Mt. Hood, almost barefooted, in 1846, to get a better view of the lay of the land to know which way to go to get to Oregon City for supplies which S.K. Barlow and Wm. Rector went after and brought back. The Barlow Pass was only 4155 feet but an early winter made it hard on the emigrants. The timber on the west side of the mountain was heavy and required lots of cutting to get to Fort Deposit, where they had left their wagons. J.W. Ladd was credited with being the first emigrant to reach Oregon City over the road in 1846. Laurel Hill was not only extremely steep but it was 4 miles long! between Government Camp and Rhododendron. In 1912 the road was purchased by Henry Wemme. When he died it became the property of George Joseph who gave it to the state in 1919.


     Samuel Lancaster that beloved engineer and builder of the Columbia River Highway, who built his heart and soul into that road, "a matchless masterpiece of engineering that has no equal in the U.S; according to Gen. Goethals of Panama Canal fame.

     The Columbia River Highway was the dream of Samuel Hill, pioneer road engineer and builder of Maryhill Castle-Museum. Samuel Lancaster said:

     "In 1906 I was with the public road department of the U.S. government building a system of roads in Tennessee when the Secretary of Agriculture Wilson requested me to serve as a special agent for the public road department and consulting engineer. I went all over the U.S. preaching good roads. At that time it was necessary to convince people that they could afford good roads! When I went to California in 1906 there was not a single mile of paved roads outside of any city on the Pacific Coast! Samuel Hill requested that I be sent to the coast for 6 months to create sentiment in California and Washington. Afterwards we came to Oregon and today (1926) there is a paved road from Canada to Mexico! The people laughed at us then and called us "road enthusiasts," and said, 'you will never live to see and such roads as you describe!'

     I went as a delegate to the Paris International road congress, as a guest of Mr. Hill (1908) who was also a delegate. We toured the Rhine, studying roads, making photographs of old castles and ruins on the high steep slopes, which were covered with vineyards. Only 5 years elapsed from that time until I was asked to fix the location of the Columbia River Highway through the Columbia gorge! Mr. Hill tried to get the state of Washington to build a road on the north side of the river and gave $10,000 for prison labor (used near Lyle). He spent $80,000 near Maryhill on roads. But Washington wouldn't support him so he came over to Oregon and worked day and night, giving talks, lectures, views, in every county in the state, to arouse interest. Governor Oswald West used prison labor at Shell Rock Mountain where Simon Benson put up $10,000. There was no state or federal aid then. Multnomah county had only $75,000 in her treasury when I came here!

     He made surveys and built a piece of road between Multnomah Falls and Waukena Falls and to Mist Falls. We took people out on trains and boats to show it to them. Multnomah county then taxed for roads. A state highway department was organized and the road extended from Portland to the sea and from Hood River east. The work was started in the fall of 1913 and was practically completed by 1915. It was paved in 1916.

     "The first wagon road on the Oregon side of the Columbia river was completed Feb. 9,1856 and ran from Bonneville to the Cascades. On Oct. 27, 1872 the Oregon legislature appropriated $50,000 for building a wagon road from the mouth of the Sandy river (Troutdale) through the Columbia river gorge to The Dalles. The funds were exhausted by October of 1876. An additional $50,000 was provided. The road was crooked and the grades were steep. The construction of the O.R. & N. railroad in 1883 destroyed the road in many places. Only traces of it could be found in 1913. When construction on the Columbia River Highway was begun no grades were to be more than 5% and its width was to be 24 feet!

     (Joel Palmer operated the above wagon road as a toll road from 1863 to 1879 and from 1876 to 1879 ft was a passable summer time wagon road. The rest of the 13 years it was a toll cattle and saddle pack train road with ferries at Hood River and Troutdale. He sold to the railroad in 1879.)

     "In 1910 Henry Wemme petitioned Multnomah county to construct a road from Bridal Veil Falls to the Hood River county line. Road viewers made a favorable report. Surveyors ran a line over the route and made a map and profile. They ran a line from Chantislur (west Crown Point) to Latourell Falls but they claimed it was impracticable and could not be done even with a 12% grade (up to Crown Point). In 1911 Multnomah county constructed 1.8 miles of road east of Bridal Veil, Falls, 20 feet wide. Joint use of the railroad right-of-way was necessary in places and agreed to. Lack of support caused construction to cease!

Shell Rock Mountain

     Shell Rook Mountains, in Hood River county which rests on ice, was always considered an impassable barrier! No wagons were ever able to get by this mountains in pioneer days. They used to stop just east of that point, cut down trees, make rafts and floated down to the Cascades. The state road of 1876 crossed above the present road, but loose rock slopes made it impossible to maintain and it fell into decay and disuse. In 1912 Simon Benson gave Governor Oswald west $110,000 to use prison labor in building a new road around the base of Shell Rock mountains. The state had no Highway Commission and Hood River road officials handled the work. Most of the money was wasted and the project failed!

     "In 1913 Multnomah county employed Samuel Lancaster as an engineer to supervise construction of the Columbia River Highway in Multnomah County.

Engineer Lancaster

     "A careful study revealed the beauty of the Columbia river gorge and its possibilities for a scenic and commercial highway of 24 foot width and maximum grade 5%, with curves of 100 feet radius or more. The full support of the press and Hood River county was received. Oregon created a Highway Commission which urged cooperation as to standards from the Inland Empire to the sea and construction was under their supervision. They wanted the road completed in time for the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco in 1915. John B. Yeon, Portland millionaire lumberman established labor camps and construction proceeded rapidly. All Multnomah county roads were ready for the $1,250,000 paving job by 1915. The road was opened to Hood River July 8, 1915 and on August 11, 1915 it was opened from Portland to Astoria! Simon Benson gave 2 years of his time to the job, without pay, and gave ground for right-of-way and state parks.

     "Mitchell Point Tunnel, 390 feet, was an important obstacle and classified as a wonderful piece of highway engineering equal to the Axenstrasse of Switzerland. It was built by J.A. Elliott and H.L. Bowlby, state highway engineers. For the first time in history a car could be driven from eastern Oregon to the sea! Many men before 1915 never thought that was possible! Men worked for 100 years to get a road down the Columbia river gorge but the dream was not realized until 1915. It only took 2 years for the 200 miles after agreement on location! It cost $1,000,000 and was opened to travel July 6, 1915. The lookout at Crown Point cost $100,000 and on a clear day the points of interest seen are Rooster Rock, Castle Rock, the Sunken Forest, Table Mountain, Cape Horn, Lone Rook, the Silver Star besides the general view up and down the river for miles, a view unexcelled by any highway in the world! It was extended to The Dalles in 1921; to Hood River in 1915.

     The horseback ride on Wahkeena Falls to Larch Mountain, 44 miles, is one of the most beautiful in the world. How many Oregonians have enjoyed that ride?

World Famous Points

     SHEPHERD'S DELL was called "the playground of the fairies!" Bridal Vial Falls has no comparison! Coopey and Dalton Falls would be outstanding in any place as would Eagle's Rest! Waukeena Falls and Multnomah Falls are internationally known! Simon Benson gave them to the state as a park! Multnomah Falls is called "the Queen of all American cataracts;" its drop is 870 feet! Some say, "its too beautiful to be real," others say, "a dream garden falls". Oneonta Gorge has its 90 foot falls, and Horsetail Falls, which appears like a "beautiful tail of an Arabian horse" is just as outstanding as any of the others! Cathedral Rock and St. Peter's Dome have no comparison in America! Beacon Rock, on the Washington shore is a landmark that can't be missed. The Bonneville Dam which provides us with so much cheap electricity and its grounds are equal to other gorge beauties. The Bonneville state hatchery which provides the Royal Chinook salmon the Columbia river is famous for, should not be overlooked. Eagle Creek Park is one of the finest in America. The man-made Bridge of the Gods is a symbol of the natural bridge that geologists and Indian legends tell us about.

     The Oregon State Library has a copy of Samuel Lancaster's Scenic Columbia river views about the most beautiful natural pictures ever caught by a camera. This is the most beautiful highway in the World but to a motorist in a hurry to get to Portland its beauty was just a stumbling block in his path! Commercialism of the road by trucks is more important then all its beauty! The Creator in all his Majesty and beauty must take a back seat for commercialism! Samuel Lancaster built the Columbia River highway for less than the interest will be on our, new commercial highway! Overloaded trucks will have the new highway torn to pieces much faster than the state has funds to repair it with! We worship at the altar of the God of Gold. Our Creator is unknown to most men!

The Commercial Highway

     According to the 1952 Progress Edition of The Dalles Chronicle the new water grade commercial highway between here and Portland, upon completion in 1954 will reduce the distance between here and Portland from 91 miles to 82.5; it will reduce the curves from 705 to 136 and the degrees of curvature from 24,135 to 2966; reduce the rise and fall in elevation from 8,000 feet to it will also reduce the driving time from 3½ hours to 1½ hours for "Cannon Ball Baker" speed demons who like to keep the car "right on 80 for average driving and up to 120 when they want to pass a slow driver!" Best of all it will be a public road, built and maintained at public expense, for use of commercial truck and bus users in competition with tax-paying railroads, who build and maintain their own lines; and with river transportation over a "roadbed maintained by the Creator!" This, of course is unfair competition to railroads and river transportation companies. This commercial road will cost around $25,000,000 upon completion in 1954 as against the one million that Samuel Lancaster spent in 1922! When road costs rise 25 times in 25 years its time to quit building and maintaining them at public expense as free commercial arteries for trucks and busses! The day for toll roads has arrived so as to make commercial users pay for the roads they tear up with their commercial vehicles, with a good stiff ton-mileage rate to compensate for the damage they do.

     To prevent speed demons from killing themselves and menacing the lives of other people a limit of 50 miles an hour is needed on all roads. The damage they do to their own and other cars has caused the insurance rates to shoot so high that it would appear that "rates should be doubled on everyone who is responsible for an accident, each time they have an accident; and lowered for the driver who averts accidents, at least every 5 years!" Compel the irresponsible driver to shoulder the whole burden of his reckless driving! If he hasn't time to "give way for pedestrians" on streets and roads, and operate a car with care and safety, he don't belong on the roads! Aviators are required to pass stiff examinations. Truck and bus drivers are given lessons in safety. Railroad enginemen know their safety rules. If any of the above men have an accident it is investigated and if they are at fault they are no longer trusted to handle equipment! But the car driver can kill and maim and go free to wreck, kill and maim again and again, while you and I pay for his accidents by an increase in OUR insurance rates! They don't allow such conduct in British Columbia, Canada, why do we allow it here? Its just as easy to be a safe, careful, sane, slow driver with consideration for the other fellow, once the habit is formed, as it is to be a selfish speed demon, road hag and careless driven The careful drivers may have to organize themselves into "safety clubs" for the purpose of reporting reckless drivers to law enforcement officials, and so as to have funds to protect members from suits of retaliation by reckless drivers!; and for the purpose of DEMANDING lower insurance rates for the safe driver who has never caused an accident; and an INCREASE in rates for reckless drivers.

The Dalles to Boise Military Road

     Under an act of Congress dated February 25, 1867 there was granted to the State of Oregon by the U.S., to aid in the construction of a military wagon road from The Dalles to Fort Boise (Idaho) on the Snake river; each alternating section of public lands, designated by odd numbers, to the extent of 3 sections in depth (or width) on each side of the road; the state of Oregon being authorized by the act to dispose of said lands for the purpose of aiding in the construction of said military road. The Oregon legislature passed an act, approved by Governor George L. Woods, October 20, 1868, granting The Dalles Military Road Co., a corporation organized for the purpose of constructing a road, all the aforesaid lands, subject to when the governor of Oregon would certify to the Secretary of the Interior that 10 continuous miles of said road are completed, then the quantity of land hereby granted, not to exceed 30 sections, may be sold; and so from time to time until said road shall be completed. On June 23, 1869 Governor George L. Woods of Oregon filed the following acceptance:

Executive Office, Salem, Oregon, June 23, 1889

     I, George L. Wood, Governor of the State of Oregon, do hereby certify that this plat or map (on file at the Oregon State Library) of The Dalles Military Road Company and shows in connection with the public surveys, as far as said public surveys are completed, the location of the line of the route as actually surveyed and upon which their goad was constructed in accordance with the requirements of an sot of Congress February 25, 1867, entitled, "An act granting lands to the State of Oregon to aid in the construction of a military wagon road from Dalles City, on the Columbia river, to Fort Boise on the Snake river;" and with the act of the legislative assembly of the State of Oregon approved October 20, 1868, entitled, "An act donating certain lands to The Dalles Military Road Company." I further certify that I have made a careful examination of said road since its completion and that the same is built in all respects as required by the said above recited acts and that the said road is accepted.

     In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Oregon. Done at Salem, Oregon June 23, 1869.

Seal of the State of Oregon
SAMUEL E. MAY, Secretary of State.

     On January 12, 1870 Governor Woods issued a further certificate in like terms and effect, as the above, certifying to the Secretary of the Interior the completion of the military road through its entire length, by The Dalles Military Road Co. On December 18, 1874 the Commissioner of the General Land Office of the U.S., withdrew from sale the odd numbered sections of the land within 3 miles on each side of the road, in favor of The Dalles Military Road Co. On June 18, 1874, Congress passed an act authorizing the issuance of patents for lands granted to the State of Oregon, to aid in the construction of certain military wagon roads in said state, and that there existed no law providing for the issuing of formal patents for said lands.

     Under this act The Dalles to Boise Military Road Co. selected lands. On May 31, 1876 they conveyed title to such lands to Edward Martin of San Francisco for the sum of $125,000. He conveyed title to the Eastern Oregon Land Co.

The History of Central Oregon says "that by 1885 public opinion called far an investigation into this land fraud deal and both houses of the legislature memorialized Congress to commence suit for recovery of the lands, alleging that The Dalles to Boise Military Road Co. did not do enough road construction work to justify the possession of the land. On March 2, 1889 Congress authorized the Attorney General of the U.S. to bring suit to procure a decree of forfeiture of all the lands granted by an Act of Congress as of February 25, 1867, on the grounds that the terms of the grant had not been complied with; and seeking a cancellation of all patents and forfeiture of lands unpatented. The bill of complaint by the Attorney General alleged, "That the road was never constructed in whole, or, in part, that through fraudulent representations of the officers, stockholders and agents of the corporation, the Governor of Oregon was deceived and inducted to, issue a certificate to declaring he had examined the road throughout its entire length, and that it had been constructed and completed in all respects in accordance with the statue, and relying on this certificate the patents had been issued by the U.S."

The Historic Trial

     Suit was immediately begun in the Circuit Court at The Dalles, Oregon before Judge Sawyer, with L.L. McArthur (afterwards Circuit Judge here) appearing as the U.S. Attorney. James K. Kelley, several times Mayor of The Dalles; was the main attorney for the defendants. In the appeal arguments of Feb. 18, 1890 the defendants pleaded, "That the Governor's certificate was made without fraud; that the defendants were bona fide purchasers (innocent purchasers) from The Dalles to Boise Military Road Co., without notice of any fraud or defect in the title. An opinion of Judge Sawyer Feb. 2, 1890 sustained the defendants and dismissed the case.

     The case was appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court, 9 District and Judge, Blatchford handed down an opinion May 25, 1891, reversing the decision of the district court and remanded the case for further hearings because the district court erred in not permitting the U.S. to reply to the pleas for dismissal. On Dec. 7, 1891 a decree was again entered sustaining the second plea. This decree was appealed to the circuit court of appeals and on March 10, 1892 that decree was affirmed. An appeal was made to the U.S. Supreme Court with Assistant Attorney General Parker appearing for the U.S., and James K. Kelley of The Dalles for The Dalles Military Road Co. On March 6, 1893 Justice Brewer handed down an opinion from the Superior Court Bench affirming the decision of the District Court of Appeals, making the original title to the lands absolute. The decision effected such other military road companies as the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Road Co. from Eugene to Burns.

Fraud Issue Evaded

     The History of Central Oregon on the decision said, "the trials and appeals completely ignored the basic fraud that the governor had carefully examined said read since its completion and that the same was built as required by an Act of Congress. Such was far from being the fact. Little, if anything was ever done in the way of making a highway. Fraud vitiates all contracts. A plainer case never existed. The act provided that the lands should be exclusively applied to the construction of said road and to no other purpose; and should be disposed of as the work progresses. It further enacted that this should be a public highway for the use of the government of the U.S., free, and that it should be constructed with such width, graduation, and bridges, as to permit its regular use for wagons and in such other special manner as this state may prescribe. The manner of the sale of the lands -- should not exceed 30 Sections for each 10 miles, completed. The object of congress was to grant a subsidy to aid in building a highway to the interior of the eastern portion of the state (between The Dalles and Canyon City the two largest cities in the Pacific Northwest at that time). The fact that no road was built, but the line of an old one followed, the settlers having had to do their own grading and build their own bridges. The company laid their hands on the choicest parcels of public domain, within the grant, without fulfilling any of the conditions prescribed! From all along the route we have heard the same complaint that as a public highway the provisions of the act were never complied with or were never intended to be carried out. The road is at present owned by the widow and heirs of Edward Martin (1905) deceased of San Francisco. The estate cannot be disposed of until the minor heirs are of age."

What Elizabeth Lord Said:

     In 1861 The Dalles to Canyon City Military Road Co. was formed to facilitate the moving of troops and stores to established posts and render it possible for the government to punish and control the renegade Indians who made themselves at error to whites passing over the trails. My father (Judge W.C. Laughlin) was an active member of this company. I cannot name all the members but Wm. Logan and Orlando Humason were among them." (Some of the others were N.H. Gates, Victor Trevitt, O.S. Savage, B.W. Mitchell, O.W. Weaver, P.J. Martin, President, O.N. Thornbury, Secretary. Their capital was $100,000 and they acquired 592,557 acres of land. Later Orlando Humason became President.) Their lands were in Wasco, Sherman, Grant and Baker counties. Many settlers were invited by the government to take up lands inside the grant and issued some patents thereto which were nullified by the Supreme Court decision causing the settlers to lost them investments in improvements. The Eastern Oregon Land Co. agreed to sell some of its Sherman County holdings at $60 an acre to the government, to reimburse settlers for improvements and crops (1904) according to Waller Martin, President of the Eastern Oregon Land Co. 1904. -- History of Central Oregon.

Location of Dalles to Boise Military Road

     This old historical Dalles to Boise Military Road, as Mrs. Lord said, "was for the purpose of transporting military supplies and men to stations out in Central Oregon." It was also established during the "gold rush period" to enable miners to get to the mines at Canyon City, Baker and Boise. The Dalles and Canyon City were the two largest cities in the Pacific Northwest at that time (1862-64) and with no road of any kind between them for supplies. Both were 10,000 population towns and they needed a road for communication purposes, in place of the existing Indian trails over which the pack and saddle trains had to follow.

     Congress was sincere in making the subsidy land grant for encouragement purposes. The Dalles business men, named above, were sincere in making a passable road between here and Canyon City, later extending it to Boise. Governor Woods did NOT make a personal inspection of the entire route. In fact, according to Edward Sharp, former Wasco County Surveyor, "the governor did not make any inspection of the bridge across the Deschutes river, as at the time of acceptance of the road it could not hold up a team and wagon, nor did he go out into the Indian invested interior portion of the state on any inspection tour of the road."

Followed Old Oregon Trail

     Plats on file show the road commenced at The Dalles, following the Old Oregon Trail to Fairbanks. For following that portion of the Old Oregon Trail they were granted many sections of land within the present limits of Wasco county. From Fairbanks they followed up 15 Mile to Brookhouse and up Brookhouse canyon to the breaks of the Deschutes, thence down to the Deschutes river at a point about 4 miles above the mouth where they constructed a temporary footbridge "to pass inspection." This bridge was later made more secure and called the Gorton Bridge. The map at Salem shows it was started on the 27 of April 1869 and the points it passed through were:

     Mud Springs, Hay Stack Creek, Buck Hollow, Cross Hollow (Shaniko), Antelope, Kern Creek, Cherry creek, Sutton Ranch, Alkali House, Marshalls, Hild's Ranch, Allen Ranch, Willow Creek, Camp Watson a military camp, Rock creek station, Birch creek, Cottonwood station, Bassett House, South Fork of John Day river, Aldrick, Bridge creek, Moore & Wager, Ingalls, Luce, John Day and Canyon City.

     The Fort Harney junction was reached May 9, 1869. The Idaho line was reached May 15, 1869 and on June 23, 1869 Governor Woods signed statement said the road was completed into Fort Boise, Idaho. It still is a public road (1952) and can never be closed, according to Edward Sharp, pioneer surveyor.

The Dalles to Fort Harney Military Road

     It was in 1860, according to the History of Central Oregon, that Major Enoch Steens, after whom the Steens Mountains near Burns are named, made a passable military wagon road from Fort Harney, near Burns via Canyon City, Camp Watson, Mitchell, Burnt Ranch, Antelope, Shaniko, Bakeoven, Sherar's Bridge, Nansene, Wasco, Boyd, to The Dalles for military supplies and use of miners and the public. The Dalles to Boise Military Road Co. followed some of this Steen Military road from Shaniko into John Day and were granted land subsidies for what Steen and his soldiers and other later soldiers did.

The Cow Canyon-Prineville Road

     In 1869 Wm. Clark and Lew Daugherty were authorized by Wasco County Court to construct a toll road from the Steen Military road at Bakeoven, down Cow Canyon, Hay Creek, Grizzley and to Prineville. The Dalles merchants wanted a better road into Central Oregon and especially to Prineville which was founded in 1868. Haight was toll collector for years in a place at Cow Canyon Spring where the Cow Canyon Service Station is now located. In 1872 Andy Swift established the Bakeoven Junction stage and freight wagon station and Inn which he sold to Thomas Burgess in 1873. The Burgess family had a wide reputation among travelers and settlers for their kind hospitality. It took a real skinner to put 10 head of horses and 3 wagons down around some of those curves on the old Cow Canyon road and bleaching bones testified to failures. The 1864 military road from Antelope to Camp Maurey was followed.

Bend to Fort Klamath

     The road from Bend to Fort Klamath followed Indian trails and was cut through the jack pines out there in 1867 by J.W.P. Hunington, Klamath Indian Agent who was taking $35,000 in cash and supplies to the reservation from The Dalles. His first stop was Antelope, then near the present city of Madras, where he had some of his horses stolen by Indians. Next stop was near Redmond; then Wychick near Bend. The road he cut from there south followed the Columbia-Klamath Indian Trail, which they simply widened out enough for their wagons. Klamath Indians help cut the road and it took a month to go from The Dalles to Fort Klamath. About 4 years later, junctions were made on this road for early settlers, mail and freight to Paisley and Lakeview, once a week; and to Warm Springs in 1878. --- Capt. C.C. Applegate.

Pioneer Roads and Freight Teams

     In a talk before the Wasco County Pioneers' Association at The Dalles auditorium May 1931, Wm. J. Roberts 1860 pioneer son of Rev. E.P. Roberts and brother of Albert S. Roberts and then (1931) Washington State Highway Commissioner, said, "The Inland Empire was supplied by heavy freight teams from The Dalles, of 8, 10, and 12 horses, mules or oxen, driven by a jerk line. It was fun for small boys of The Dalles to watch packers and freighters handle their mules and horses, the pack animals following the bell mare and the freighters 2 or 3 in a string with a man on a saddle on the wheel horse driving with the jerk line. The Brewery Grade hill was 12 to 15% and narrow. It was during the days of those poor roads that I announced to my parents that one of my ambitions was to leave for my monument, - a real HIGHWAY in some part of the northwest. As Washington Highway Commissioner I helped lay out 1800 miles of primary Washington highways, built without bonds or property taxes, from gasoline taxes. I attended the Laughlin school at the foot of the hospital steps. We played old oat, bull-in-the-pen, Andy over, marbles, hide and seek in the basement of the uncompleted mint!"


     1805 Lewis & Clark, led by Sacajawea from Montana down Snake river; camps at mouth of Mill creek. 1510 W.P. Hunt of Pacific Fur Trading Co., led by Madam Dorion, blazes old Oregon Trail.

1812 Astoria party returns east over Old Oregon Trail. Columbia river the only roadway.

1826 Hudson Bay Co. follows Columbia river down from Canada; joint occupancy agreed upon in 1818. 1821 Capt. B.L.L. Bonneville, led by Jim Bridger west over Old Oregon Trail; brought first wagons over trail and stayed with Nez Perce Indians 2 years; had 100 men in expedition.

1832 Capt. Nathaniel Wyeth led by Jim Bridger over Old Oregon Trail on exploration.

1836 Capt. Nathaniel Wyeth returns east over Old Oregon Trail.

1836 Capt. Nathaniel Wyeth leads Dr. Marcus Whitman west to Walla Walla over old Oregon Trail and bring carts to Walla Walla; party included first White women over Old Oregon Trail.

1833 Methodist Mission at The Dalles established by Jason Lee & H.K.W. Perkins; Lee pack & supply trail via Mosier, Hood River valley, Lost Lake, Bull Run river to Oregon City and Salem, founded

1841 Chas. Wicks expedition, led by Jim Bridger, follows Old Oregon Trail west to Oregon.

1842 Edward Crate, oldest permanent resident of The Dalles, lands Hudson Bay Co. batteaux at 7th and Washington streets during June high water. He was often belittled for making this claim until the flood of 1894; then many skeptics "apologized to him;" he smiled and thanked them).

1842 Dr. Marcus Whitman in October starts his winter trip east over the Old Oregon Trail to Salt, Lake, thence south and over the Rockies, fording the Colorado, to save Oregon for the U.S.

1843 Dr. Marcus Whitman leads the first large emigration of 200 wagons, 1000 people and 2000 head of livestock over the Old Oregon Trail to Walla Walla and & Dalles. They floated down the Columbia. The Freemont military expedition follows emigrants west to The Dalles, then goes to California.

1845 Samuel K. Barlow, Joel Palmer, Phillip Foster lead emigrant party to The Dalles; cut Barlow road from Wamic to Government Camp, cache wagons in snow and push on to Oregon City for winter.

1846 At January session of Provincial legislature Samuel F. Barlow and Joel Palmer appear and ask for a franchise to build a road over Cascade mountains and collect tolls; request granted. Soon as the weather opened Barlow and Foster took 50 men and cut a road to their wagons and maintained the Barlow Toll road until 1912 when the state of Oregon took it over.

1845 The Stephen Meek train, which followed the Barlow train, takes "cutoff" through the deserts of Central Oregon with 800 emigrants and become lost. Dalles Missionaries lead them to The Dalles. Suffered 50 deaths and lots of sickness. This was the "Donner Party of Oregon."

1846 The Columbia river pack trail down the south bank of the Columbia, used by cattle.

1848 The first Columbia river steamboats appear at The Dalles to haul emigrants and wagons to the Cascades where they had a road on the north side of the river to Vancouver. Steamboats continued to ply the Columbia river until 1935 --- 87 memorial years!

1851 Mail from The Dalles to Salt Lake City and east established as a weekly good weather experiment.

1853 Nathan Olney, establishes ferry at the mouth of the Deschutes river for emigrants.

1859 Pack Trails to the Canyon City and Idaho mines established.

1859 Orlando Humason and R.R. Thompson improve the Old Oregon Trail via Fairbanks for use as a wagon portage road between The Dalles and Deschutesville, at mouth of Deschutes river where they operated the Col. Wright, first steamer on the upper Columbia, to Umatilla and Wallula.

1862 Pony Express and mail service between The Dalles and Canyon City established. They operated for 2 years over Major Steens military wagon road to Canyon City and Fort Harney.

1862 First petitions filed with Masco County Court for road improvements, according to Arthur Cook.

1863 The Mill Creek road was declared a public road. The road between The Dalles and Tygh had been a public road since Barlow established his Toll road in 1846.

1863 Joel Palmer acquires the cattle trail on the south bank of the Columbia, makes it a toll trail and maintains ferries at Hood River and Troutdale for cattle and pack trains. From 1876 to 1879 this trail was made into a passable summer time wagon road. In 1879 Palmer sold the right-of-way to the O.R.& N for railroad purposes. The Barlow road became the only road to Portland.

1864 Sherar's Bridge was enlarged and strengthened for wagons making it possible for emigrants, of the Old Oregon Trail to cut-off at the head of Cottonwood Canyon to Grass Valley, Buck Hollow, Sherars, Tygh, Wamic to the Barlow road cutting off 100 MILES of the trip to the Willamette Valley. The Wagon bridge made it possible for stage and freight wagon service over the Steen Military road to Canyon City via Antelope, Mitchell, Camp Watson and John Day river valley. Major Steen also completed his military road in 1860, from Canyon City to The Dalles via Sherars and Boyd.

1865 Stage Service between The Dalles and Salt Lake City established over the Old Oregon Trail.

1867 The Dalles to Hood River road made a free state owned and controlled road. It also extended east out of The Dalles to Dufur, Kingsley, Tygh, Wamic and Oak Grove (Wapinitia), Warm Springs.

1868 The Dalles to Goldendale; Yakima and Ellensburg stage line service established. Operated to 1884.

1869 The Dalles to Prineville stage service established via Bakeoven and Cow Canyon Toll Road; built that same year by Wm. Clark and Lew Doherty. It went by Hay creek and Grizzley to Prineville.

1869 The Dalles to Canyon City and Boise Military Road Co. builds road from Fairbanks up Brookhouse Canyon to Deschutes river, south to Shaniko, following the Steen's Military road to Canyon, City. This was a Land Grant toll road run by Dalles merchants.

1916 Federal Post Road Law enacted providing for our highways and improved roads.

1922 Columbia River highway 30 finished both ways into The Dalles.

1924 Dalles-California highway 23 completed.

1946 United Air Lines establishes service at Dallesport Oct. 1.

1952 Wasco county has 175 miles of paved highways; 250 miles surfaced marked roads; total of 1500 miles of county roads.

The Federal Post Road Law of 1916

     The student may see our fine system of highways and local roads, comparable to the emigrant roads and trails, and have wondered how they came about? Who is to be thanked for them? The National, State and local Granges are the sponsors or fathers of the Federal Post Road Act of July 11, 1916. Previous to that time all road improvements were on a local (county) basis from Poll Taxes and general property taxes; the funds from which were used to blade dirt roads and build bridges or do hand labor on roads; and city streets were improved by councils under taxes on city property and bonds against city property.

     The Federal Post Road Act, of July 11, 1916 "empowered the Secretary of Agriculture, and his Bureau of Roads, to cooperate with the states, through their respective highway departments, in the construction of RURAL POST ROADS."

Rural Post Roads

     Rural Post Roads was defined under the act to mean, "any road over which the U.S. Mails now or hereafter may be transported." (Sec. 2 of Act).


     The term construction shall "include reconstruction and improvement of roads, repairs and preservation of a reasonably smooth surface." (Sec. 2 of Act).

Division of Funds

     The appropriation for any fiscal year shall be made on the basis of "1/3rd on the area of each state as to the area of all the states; 1/3rd on the population of each state as to the population of all states; and 1/3rd on the ratio of the MILEAGE OF RURAL DELIVERY ROUTES and STAR ROUTES in each state as to the mileage of all rural and star routes in all the states, as shown by annual certificate of the Postmaster General to the Secretary of Agriculture."

Act Intended to Surface Farm Roads

     The above act is the BASIS or foundation of all our road legislation. The intent of both the Granges and Congress was to provide SURFACED ROADS for the farmers of America; and 90% of the farmers of America live on the U.S. Mail routes! In 1921 the act was amended to include forest service roads and city streets to a limited extent. The amendment of June 16, 1933 permitted state highway departments to RECONSTRUCT primary highways and its under this amendment that the Columbia river highway is being rebuilt into a commercial highway for trucks and busses in competition with tax-paying railroads, who build and maintain their own road beds and equipment, and against river transportation; and do about 80% of the damage to our roads and pay about 10% of their costs.

The Hayden-Carthwright Act of 1934

     The Hayden-Carthwright road act of June 18, 1934 amended the distribution basis from the above to 7/8ths on area and mail route mileages and 1/8th on population; and that not less than 25% of the funds were to be applied to secondary or feeder roads including "farm to market roads, Rural Mail and School Bus roads." There has been other minor amendments to the law made by the Granges so as to get more money for school bus and local mail route roads.

School Bus-Mail Route Roads in Oregon

     There are 18,000 miles of school bus and mail route roads in Oregon. These figures were gathered from County School superintendents, the Oregon Rural Letter Carriers' Association and the Oregon Star Route Carriers' Association, in 1937, by the writer of this history. It was found at that time that 97% of the farms of Oregon, with occupants or families thereon, lived on these 18,000 miles of School Bus-Mail Route roads! and at that time 3000 miles of those roads were un-surfaced mud roads! Oregon at that time operated 772 school busses over those 18,000 miles of roads; 243 Rural Free Delivery mail routes operated 10,000 miles daily with 1500 miles of un-surfaced mud roads; and 240 Star Contract routes operated 8000 miles daily of which about 1500 miles were un-surfaced mud roads! These were the feeder roads in Oregon on which 291,722 people on Oregon farms lived or 97% of the Oregon farm population. During the last 15 years this dirt mileage on these main-traveled School Bus-Mail Route Roads has been cut in half, but there is still 1000 miles of mud roads that mail carriers of Oregon and school bus drivers have to travel through every day!

State Division of Monies

     When federal funds were given to states, Oregon matched those funds with state gasoline tax monies. Until the last session of the legislature Oregon always divided those funds among counties on a population (car registration) basis, which gave Multnomah county 1/3rd of the money and the other 35 counties the balance. Multnomah county used its 1/3rd to build and maintain the bridges we see across the Willamette river in the city of Portland! When Wasco county wanted a bridge across the Columbia river we have to bond ourselves for $4,000,000. Of course these funds should have been distributed to counties on the same basis the government gave them to the state on,"7/8ths on area and mail route mileages and 1/8th on population."

The County Level

     After federal and state funds filtered down to the county level, "county courts lost track of the fact that they received them "7/8ths on area and mail route mileages and 1/8th on population;" and they all too often used them on "political roads" still leaving the school bus and mail route roads in the mud. This was largely the fault of the Granges in not requiring members of the County Court to also be members of the Grange so they would understand the needs of the farmers. In 1937 Wasco county had 220 miles of mud roads on School Bus and Mail Route Roads. This figure has been reduced to less than 100 miles of mud in the last 15 years. The problem of getting road funds applied to School Bus-Mail Route roads, like the Granges originally intended, has NOT been easy.

The Pioneer Mother of the West

     This short story was written by Inez Filloon, 1890 Dalles pioneer. The Oregon emigrant fever was not bred because the country of the east and south were overcrowded, but because of the fear that Oregon would be lost to the English, if not settled by the Americans. The slave issue caused others to want to leave the east. They had heard the fur traders stories of the vest, passed from one person to another; had read Lewis & Clark's Journals from cover to cover until they were worn out; were familiar with Washington Irving's Astoria, missionary reports, reports of exploration parties and other articles.

     They knew that Dr. Marcus Whitman had taken wagons west of Fort Hall in 1836; by making carts of them, to the Walla Walls mission. It was not until 1842 that Dr. Whitman came east; in the dead of winter, to announce that all those who wanted to go to Oregon to be ready to start next spring and he personally would lead them past Fort Hall and on to the Columbia."

     The journal of one pioneer woman said, "in starting from my eastern home I left father, mother, sisters add brothers and all near and dear to me, with the expectation of never seeing them again!" This was the usual start of the, heart-breaking trip into 2000 miles of wild country full of roving bands of red skin Indians and wild animals! It took months to get a letter back home! In missionary days it took 2 years for a letter to reach home. It required 6 months of weary, dusty travel across 2000 miles of wilderness to the new home in Oregon! In all those journeys, women have been the helpmates of their husbands. Women have had as much to do with the pioneer movement as men! The wife of 16, with babe in arms, was just as determined to follow her husband to Oregon as was Tabitha Brown, 66 year old founder of Pacific University who came across the Rogue river and Umpqua mountains, through storms and sleet and snow and mud, without provisions, nursing sick companions, and herself expecting to die before another sun came up. She brought the spirit that glorified the work she later undertook.

     We see this same beautiful sublime spirit in Mrs. Marcus Whitman, Mrs. Morrison, Mrs. Spalding, Mrs. Grey, Mrs. Welch and hundreds of other pioneer women. The women were the real heroes of the pioneer movement! If the pioneer movement were a school of hardship for the then what must it have been for the women? They were the great army of wives, sisters and mothers, companions in all the trials, helping wherever needed. Many of them were invalids trying to be cheerful and happy. Others were delicately reared, of fine sensibilities, leaving home and all that was dear, to go to a new and untried land, where the responsibilities were great and the uncertainties might prove disastrous.

     Think of cooking over a campfire for months, in all kinds of weather! We think it is hard, to cook over a stove. Think of spreading the table on the ground! Think of eating flapjacks at nearly every meal, because of not having an oven in which to bake bread! Think of having no fuel to burn except sage brush and buffalo-chips! Think of bad water. The dusty roads! The long tedious journey when they reached Oregon, the Mecca of the pilgrimage, the sacrifices for the women, had just begun!

     A new home must be carved out of the wilderness! There were no luxuries! and few conveniences. There were away from friends and among Indians who all too often showed their hatred of the white race. Those pioneer days illustrated in the women of Oregon, the highest type of heroism. Each duty was discharged bravely and patiently. They were offered no hope of reward other then the knowledge that their duty was well done; bravely. They reared their familles with all the hardships endured. The men did not suffer as the women did! The women were alone in their aspirations, in their longings and griefs and sorrows. Seldom did the men say, "well done little woman, I am proud of you." Few men understood the sensitive nature of women who welcome a word of appreciation, and work still harder for another word of encouragement. The kindly spoken word lightens our trials as nothing else will do.

     The pioneer woman was the private soldier of the pioneer movement. They were the real heroes of those years of old Oregon. If ever a monument was worthy of a place in our city narks and public places, there should sometime be one to the memory of the pioneer women. (Such a monument has since been erected at Salem state capitol.)

The, bravest battle that was ever fought,
Shall I tell you how and when?
On the maps of the world you will find it not,
'Twas fought by the mothers of men.



     Louis Fritz, who was born at Fort Dalles, wrote much interesting history centers at The Dalles. Long before there was a Fort, or even a settlement, Indians, from a radius of 500 miles, came here to barter and trade. Fort Drum (one of the first names for Fort Dalles) was named for a man who lived here when the first U.S. soldiers came here in 1850. The first Fort here was built in 1850 of hewed logs. It burned. It was rebuilt in 1856, 57 and 58. Louis Scholl was architect and builder. Dr. Hammond was at the Fort in 1850. Theodore Winthrop, eastern correspondent, came with the soldiers in 1850. Dr. McKay was a druggist at the Fort. Major Tucker's Rifle Regiment was here in 1853. Captain Alvord's 4th U.S. Infantry was here. Col. George Wight was here in 1856. Mrs. Chapman ran a general merchandise store here. Gordion & Shannon were saddle makers in The Dalles. The Fort had a total of 15 buildings. Louis and Charlie Fritz were sons of Jacob Fritz, the last Quartermaster of Old Fort Dalles and were born in one of the Old Fort Buildings." - Edw. Egbert library.

The Leonard Bridge Crash of 1896

     This story was told by W.S. Grant to Margaret Walker, Chronicle writer of Oct. 26, 1921. Early freighters of Central and Eastern Oregon endured inclement weather, camped in the open with their heavy wagons drawn by 6, 8 and 10 horse teams; who came to The Dalles regularly (up to 1911) to receive dry goods, groceries and other commodities. On return trips they were loaded with wool, wheat or other products. They drove over steep grades with precipitous hillsides down into deep canyons far below. Whitening bones and broken wagons often told silent stories of terrible accidents, of freighters, stagecoaches and emigrants whose wagons and oxen plunged down to their mangling deaths or were badly hurt, miles from the closest help.

     W.S. Grant, Condon rancher made trips from The Dalles to Condon, Fossil and other points with double freight wagons drawn by 8 and 10-horse teams. On one of these trips he said, "It was the last of June, 1896, that I came to The Dalles to get a load of goods for one of the Fossil merchants. I started bright and early one morning with an 8-horse, team and 2 wagons, one trailed behind the other. I made the trip down to The Dalles in 2 days. It was uphill going back with the heavy load and I would need 5 or 6 days for the return trip. I had some dandy horses, 2 big bays which I had bought the year before for cash, all I could scrape together! I had had the other 6 for several years. They had drawn many a heavy load over the hills for me. Whenever I came in from a trip, my wife and children. seemed about as glad to seethe horses as me. Kit, the big grey mare, was their favorite. All 4 children would pile on her back at once and she wouldn't mind it a bit, just walk as careful as she could so they wouldn't fall off.

     "We got to The Dalles on the evening of the third day. I put the horses up at the feed yard and stayed at a hotel that night. Next morning I got up bright an early to see to the horses and get ready for the return trip. I received the goods and I had both wagons loaded by noon. As soon as I could get dinner I started out but had to go slow and let the horses rest often on the hills. On the third night I camped at the Leonard toll bridge (at the foot of Cottonwood canyon) across the John Day river. It was an old bridge, made of heavy timbers and about 400 feet long (more than a city block). Two other freighters with their outfits like mine, came along and stopped to camp. We talked a while that evening but turned in soon to get a good nights rest as we wanted to start early the next morning, before the heat of the day started.

     "Next morning we all hitched up about the same time. One of the other fellows started out ahead of me. I let him get across the bridge before I started with my 8 big work horses and 2 heavily loaded wagons. As soon as he pulled off the bridge I started on. The horses lifted their feet in a queer way, and seemed to be looking for something! We had just gotten well into the middle of the bridge when it began to quiver! 'Oh God, I thought, 'shes going down!' Well sir those horses just stood stock still, with heads up, and every muscle as tense as steel, just as if they knew what was coming!

     "The bridge swayed for an instant! The timbers creaked and groaned! Then the big piers gave way! Down we went! It seemed that we were going through space for along time! I jumped from the wagon, when we started to fall! The floor of the bridge was bolted and fastened together with heavy timbers and it held together! It fell across the timbers that had gone first, in a tilted position! I went into the water, at the edge of the bridge, on the high side of the floor! When I drew myself up so I could see the ruin, something seemed to snap in my brain! I felt a terrible rage against the man that had let all that happen, by his negligence!

     "The heavy wooden piers had fallen across the horses and wagons, pinning the whole outfit on that tilted surface! Some of the horses legs had been driven clear through the floor! Nearest to me was Kit, the horse we all loved the most. A big beam had fallen across her back and seemed to have cut her body in two! I swam for the shore, crazy mad! There were 5 men standing on the bank and not one of them did a thing to help me out! I guess they were too surprised to move when they saw me swimming out as if nothing happened. I climbed up the bank, then everything became dark!

     "When I came to myself again, they had me in a bed. Three of my ribs were broken and one knee was banged up pretty bad. The men were out trying to get what they could out of the water. They told me afterwards that 4 of the horses were still alive, but 2 of them were suffering so much that they had to be shot. The other 2 slid off, where the water was not very deep; they were not hurt very bad, but they had to stand in the water, nearly over their backs, for 8 hours! When the men finally got the timbers away, so they could get them out, they were so chilled that only the best of care saved their lives! They never were any good for work horses after that!

     "Everything that went down into the river was a loss, except me! How I ever got out was surely a miracle, at least my folks thought so, and they didn't seem to mind the other losses so much when they knew I was alive! I tried to get damages, but I couldn't get a thing! I never even got my $3 toll back! The merchants stood the merchandise loss! I had a lot of 4th of July stuff in the wagons and the folks found bunting and sacks of peanuts down the John Day river for 10 or 12 miles! My wife came after me the next day. She took me home in a bed in the bottom of the hack! I was laid up all summer!"


     This remarkably fine story by Mr. Sam Grant will give the student of pioneer history a clear picture of how freighting by wagon, out of The Dalles, took place; how long a trip took for 100 miles, each way, how long it took to load, how they slept out in the open, who stood the losses of an accident, and the deep feeling toward the horses which we do not have toward cars end trucks of 1952! Mrs. Fred Walker was the daughter of Jim and Bernice (Grant sister Sam Grant) Patison of Dufur and The Dalles. Margaret Walker's name is now Mrs. Glen Muman of 428 S. 13, Corvallis, Ore.

© Jeffrey L. Elmer All Rights Reserved