Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Oregonscape

Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Oregonscape

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In the fall of 1845, Samuel Kimbrough Barlow (1792-1867) arrived with his family in The Dalles and, learning of the delay that his party would have to suffer in order to continue on through the Columbia River Gorge to the Willamette Valley, resolved to find a way to circumnavigate Mount Hood. Along with the parties of Joel Palmer and William Rector, Barlow's group traveled south to the Tygh Valley and observed what appeared to be a pass on the south side of the mountain. During the next few months, they traveled westward and upward toward this site, now known as Barlow Pass, clearing a crude road by ax and by fire as they went.

On crossing the pass and reaching the Willamette Valley in December, Barlow petitioned the Provisional Government of the Oregon Territory for the right to build a wagon road across the route that he and his party had traveled. The government granted his request. Construction began in spring 1846, and by August of that year, the road was open for business. It was still far from ideal, cutting through dense forests and swampy lowlands, across ravines, and, in places like Laurel Hill just east of Rhododendron, up near-vertical grades as steep as 60 percent. …

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