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"The Barlow Road ... Laurel Hill to Rhododendron"
Includes ... Barlow Road ... Laurel Hill ... Rhododendron ... Tollgates ...
Image, 2013, Sign, Barlow Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barlow Road sign, Foster Farm, Eagle Creek, Oregon. Image taken May 4, 2013.


The Barlow Road ...
The Barlow Road was a part of the Oregon Trail. The road was authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 1845, and by September 1846, it made its way around the south side of Mount Hood. This 80-to-110-mile road provided an alternative to the dangerous and expensive route that used rafts to transport wagons down the Columbia River. The Barlow Road began at The Dalles, Oregon, headed south through Dufur and Tygh Valley (which some folks consider the start of the Barlow Road), then turned west at Gate Creek and generally followed the White River before it headed north through Barlow Pass and Government Camp. It then passed through "Tollgate #5" near today's Rhododendron and continued to the community of Sandy, where it turned west and ended up at Oregon City.


Follow the Barlow Road ... (east to west)


 
Laurel Hill to Rhododendron

Overview ...

At Laurel Hill the early Barlow Road went from the summit of Laurel Hill at 3,600 feet elevation, descending nearly 2,000 feet to the base of Laurel Hill. At the base of the hill were the "Meeting Rocks" and, between 1871 to 1883, the 4th Tollgate. In 1883 the Tollgate moved a little over three miles west and the 5th Tollgate was built. Today, near the Oregon community of Rhododendron, a replica has been built of that Tollgate.


Laurel Hill ... "Meeting Rocks" ... Fourth Tollgate (1871 to 1883)

Between 1871 and 1883 the Barlow Road Tollgate (Tollgate #4) was located at the base of Laurel Hill where the wagons regrouped after coming down the trecherous hill. A log cabin called Mountain House was built to accomodate the travelers. This site was also where the Territorial Stage Road (1866 to 1925) rejoined the original Barlow Road. This area is known as the "Meeting Rocks" or "Two-Mile Camp". The approximate location of this fourth Tollgate is south of Highway 26 on USFS Road #440 (also known as "East Wood Lot Road") at the western end of Laurel Hill. The site is about 3.5 miles before reaching the Rhododendron "Tollgate Replica". Follow gravel Road #440 approximately 500 feet to where the Pioneer Bridle Trail crosses. The Bridle Trail path is the old Territorial Stage Route and Road #440 is the old Barlow Road.

According to the Clackamas County and the Wasco County Historical Societies publication "Barlow Road" (1985):

"... It was a common expression that "if I make it over Laurel Hill I'll meet you at the rock." Recently the "Meeting Rock" was eliminated to make way for a parking area. ..."

(T3S, R8E, Sec.16)


Image, 2012, Stagecoach Road below Laurel Hill, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Fourth Tollgate location, where the Old Stagecoach Road (now the "Pioneer Bridal Trail") crosses the Barlow Road, looking up the Pioneer Bridal Tral. This area was once known as the "Meeting Rocks" or "Two-mile Camp". Image taken November 7, 2012.
Image, 2013, Barlow Road below Laurel Hill, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Fourth Tollgate location, where the Old Stagecoach Road (now the "Pioneer Bridal Trail") crosses the Barlow Road, looking up the Barlow Road. View looking east. This area was once known as the "Meeting Rocks" or "Two-mile Camp". Image taken June 28, 2013.

Pioneer Bridle Trail ... Laurel Hill to Rhododendron Tollgate

Today a segment of the Pioneer Bridle Trail follows the old Barlow Road, connecting the Laurel Hill Tollgate with the Rhododendron Tollgate, paralleling Oregon Highway 26 on it's south side.

Excerpt from the Barlow Road National Register of Historic Places Nomination Report, 1992:
"... At the base of the second chute, the Barlow Road turned slightly to the north and crossed a short saddle and headed uphill and westerly on Laurel Hill. This saddle is in 1989 traversed by Highway 26. On the north side of the highway, however, the trace of the Barlow Road is easily discernible and leads due west for nearly two miles in a finely preserved segment of the road. This section of the road has excellent historic and visual integrity. The only obtrusive element is a mine shaft on the north side of the road about a quarter mile west of the saddle. This section of the Barlow Road was cleared for the Pioneer Bridle Path in the 1930s and passes through dark strands of virgin conifers. The route also cuts across another prominent talus slope and is clearly demarcated where road builders cleared and terraced the roadbed. ...

Eventually the road operators graded and opened a section of the road on down Laurel Hill, extending west of the second chute. This segment is well-preserved and, since the 1930s, has served as the route of the Pioneer Bridle Path. This segment runs in a westerly direction across the southern half of Section 16. At the foot of Laurel Hill the Barlow Road is obliterated for nearly a mile by the wide cut and grading for Highway 26. This area is used for chaining up vehicles during the winter. There are no traces of the Barlow Road for three-quarters of a mile west of the junction of Highway 26 with old Highway 26 running into the Little Zigzag Canyon. A short road segment is located north of Highway 26 in the SW1/4 of Section 17 and another segment of nearly a quarter mile lies north of the highway in the southern half of Section 18. Highway 26, like the old Barlow Road, runs down the crest of the divide between Camp Creek and the Zigzag River. ..."


Image, 2012, Pioneer Bridle Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Pioneer Bridle Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon. Image from where the Bridle Trail crosses the road to Camp Creek. Image taken August 3, 2012.
Image, 2012, Pioneer Bridle Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pioneer Bridle Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon. Image from where the Bridle Trail crosses the road to Camp Creek. Image taken August 3, 2012.

Crossing the Zigzag River ...

(to come)


Zigzag River ... Joel Palmer's Journal

The term "zigzag" was first used by Joel Palmer on October 11, 1845, who, while scouting out what would become the "Barlow Road", wrote about having to "zigzag" down one ravine on Mount Hood and back up the other side. The term "zigzag" stuck and eventually denoted not only the canyon, but also a mountain, glacier, river, and in 1917, a community.

"On the morning of October 11th, a consultation was had, when it was determined that Mr. Barlow, Mr. Lock, and myself, should go in advance, and ascertain whether we could find a passage over the main dividing ridge.  ...  We took some provision in our pockets, an axe, and one rifle, and started.  ...  we came to a deep kanyon or gulf, cut out by the wash from the mountain above us. A precipitate cliff of rocks, at the head, prevented a passage around it. The hills were of the same material as that we had been traveling over, and were very steep.

I judged the ravine to be three thousand feet deep. The manner of descending is to turn directly to the right, go zigzag for about one hundred yards, then turn short round, and go zigzag until you come under the place where you started from; then to the right, and so on, until you reach the base. In the bottom is a rapid stream, filled with sand. After crossing, we ascended in the same manner  ...

Source:    Joel Palmer, October 11, 1845, "Journal of travels over the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the Columbia River, made during the years 1845 and 1846", IN: Thwaites, R., 1906, Early Western Travels, 1748-1846, vol.XXX


Tollgate Replica ... Fifth Tollgate (1883 to 1918)

Between 1883 and 1918, the last established and westernmost of the Barlow Road tollgates (Tollgate #5) was located near today's community of Rhododendron. Today a replica of the tollgate is located approximately 3.5 miles west of the "Meeting Rocks Tollgate", and 3/4 of a mile southeast of the community of Rhododendron.

"... Night of the second day brought us to the old Barlow Tollgate. It looked like any farm gate ... but it was locked and there was no way around it. Thick logs and brush barricated it on both sides ... We paid the 25 cents to pass through ... Lottie Maybee Morris, 1900 ...".
[Information sign, Tollgate Replica, Rhododendron, Oregon, 2011]

Historical photographs of the Rhododendron Tollgate show that three structures once stood at the site. South of the road was a one-story, log house with an attached and enclosed lean-to on its west side. North of the road appeared a projecting, open porch with log supports and a shake roof, perhaps a feature attached to a barn. Farther east but also on the north side of the road was a one and one-half story wood frame building covered with vertical board and batten siding. This structure had a false front on its south (front) side. Fences on a north-south axis blocked travel or stock movement except through the gate.

In 1903, motorized autos began using the Barlow Road. On August 29, 1903, John B. Kelley drove the first car through the gate and up Mount Hood, returning to Government Camp with 50 pounds of snow.

According to the Barlow Road National Register of Historic Places Nomination Report, Oregon Highway 26 has probably covered the original Tollgate #5 site.

In 1968 a replica tollgate was built at the location of the Tollgate #5, a location easily found by large maple trees planted by a former tollgate keeper.

(T3S, R7E, Sec.13)

Excerpt from the Barlow Road National Register of Historic Places Nomination Report, 1992:
"... Highway 26 has, since the 1920s, run directly through this site. It covers the location of the toll house and probably barn. Scattered historic artifacts north of the highway, however, confirm the importance of this site as a stopping point on the road. A concrete footing in the forest may be the site of the Forest guard station located here in the 1930s. ..."

Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Replica, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Information sign, Barlow Road Tollgate Replica. Image taken September 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Replica, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barlow Road Tollgate Replica. Image taken September 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Replica, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barlow Road Tollgate Replica. Image taken September 20, 2011.

Tollgate Replica ... Maples

Bordering the Tollgate Replica are two large bigleaf maple trees (Acer macrophyllum), believed to have been planted by Daniel Parker, tollgate keeper from 1883 to 1902. In 2007 the State of Oregon declared the two maples as "heritage trees". During the summer of 2011 the Oregon Department of Transportation was forced to cut down the main trunk of the easternmost maple, leaving behind secondary trunks.

"... The historic Barlow Road is a branch of the Oregon Trail that crossed the southern flank of Mount Hood. Today, a replica of the tollgate stands at the site of the original tollgate, which operated from 1879 until 1915. It is believed that two bigleaf maples were planted adjacent to the tollgate in the 1880s by Daniel Parker, the tollgate keeper at the time. Both tollgate bigleaf maple trees are at the end of their normal life span, but only one of them is leaning toward the highway and posing a hazard.

The old bigleaf maple to be felled has several stems: a main stem, with a diameter of 25 inches, and three smaller 4- to 6-inch diameter stems growing from the base of the trunk. These three smaller stems, each about 25 feet tall, will be untouched by the project, while the decaying main stem will be reduced to a height of two to three feet. ..." [U.S. Forest Service website, 2011, Mount Hood National Forest]

Originally the gatekeeper planted three maple trees, with the two parallel to Oregon Highway 26, framing the old toll house.

(T3S, R7E, Sec.13)


Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Maples, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barlow Road Tollgate Maple. Image taken September 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Maples, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Information sign, Barlow Road Tollgate Maples. Image taken September 20, 2011.

Tollgate Campground ...

From the Tollgate Replica, the route of the Barlow Road continues west through the Tollgate Campground.

(T3S, R7E, Sec.11, elevation 1,706 feet)
(45.19.18N, 121.54.23W)

Excerpt from the Barlow Road National Register of Historic Places Nomination Report, 1992:
"... A trace of the Barlow Road continues for another 500 feet through Tollgate Campground and then vanishes under Highway 26 and structures in Rhododendron, Oregon. ..."

Image, 2011, Barlow Road Tollgate Campground, Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barlow Road Tollgate Campground. Image taken September 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Zigzag River at Tollgate Campground, Rhododendron, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Zigzag River at Tollgate Campground, Mount Hood, Oregon. View looking upstream from the north bank of the Zigzag River. Image taken September 20, 2011.

Rhododendron ...

From the Rhododendron Tollgate Replica the path of the early Barlow Road heads northwest, briefly staying on the west side of today's Oregon Highway 26 until the community of Rhododendron, where it crosses the road and today is under the pavement of East Arlie Mitchell Road. The route then keeps to the ridge north of the Zigzag River and heads west to where the Zigzag River merges with the Sandy River just north of the community of Zigzag. Here the path crosses the Sandy about 1/3 mile above the junction with the Zigzag, at a spot known as the first or "Upper Crossing" of the Sandy River. Roads today following that general route are East Arlie Mitchell Road, Zigzag River Road, East Mountain Drive, and East Lolo Pass Road.


Rhododendron Route Segment ...

Excerpts from:
1993, Barlow Road Historic Corridor: Westernmost Segment of the Oregon Trail.




"Condition of the Barlow Road route through the Rhododendron community is much like the Government Camp segment. The 3/4 mile segment has visible remains toward the east and west boundaries of the community and has apparently been substantially impacted by State Highway construction and commercial development through the town center.

A short 320 foot "pristine" site section was identified in a residential area of east Rhododendron, traversing undeveloped lots near the north shoulder of State Highway 26 just west of the Tollgate Campground.

The road section passes through a small parcel of U.S. Forest Service lands before joining the State Highway 26 alignment. This "pristine" site section, though situated in a dense vegetative area, is readily visible due to the marked rut with distinct earthen berms and treeless corridor. Boulders, possibly rolled aside by early road users, constituted part of the shoulder berms. ...



East Rhododendron Segment ...
"An excellent, short segment. The west end is on U.S. Forest Service lands which has been partially impacted by blading to enhance vehicular use. The character defining features of the excellent portion on private lands is pronounced, high shoulders as the traffic apparently wore deeply into the soft soil surface, numerous boulders displaced to the shoulders, and the lack of any substantial tree growth in the roadbed despite the dense woodland setting. Preservation of the historic setting is good with nearly residential and highway development shielded by an undeveloped woodland setting immediately along the route. The segment is potentially imperiled by its proximity to the State Highway 26 right-of-way north boundary and pending highway widening projects. Natural erosion threats are minimal. There are no associated historical features. Integrity of this segment is good for design, setting, materials and feeling. The location is generally in conformance with 1898 survey plats. Its association with the Barlow Road has been further substantiated through contacts with local informants. It is the best preserved portion of the Barlow Road in the Rhododendron community ..." ... [Beckham and Hanes, 1992]



The Barlow Road route then courses westward through the town center, generally following the State Highway alignment. It is possible the route veered slightly to the south of the current highway alignment through town, but no distinctive remains were found to substantiate this possibility. This section of the route has been heavily impacted by highway construction and commercial/residential development. However, situated only a few hundred feet north of the highway in the town center is an open wet meadow apparently corresponding with one mentioned in emigrant diaries used for briefly grazing livestock while moving through the area. ...

At the west perimeter of the meadow is a large log residential structure apparently built before 1907.

Just west of the town center of Rhododendron, the route becomse visible again in the form of a "used" site section currently servings as a driveway for several residences. The section was formerly labelled Chinook Lane, but the public road has since been abandoned. This "used" segment winds through the residential area of west Rhododendron, north of the State Highway and drops down two river terrace bluffs before a short "pristine" road section terminates at a small open meadow, known locally as "Pioneer Meadow". The meadow, located on public lands on the east bank of the Zigzag River, was apparently much larger but has been diminished by various episodes of highway construction through the past 70 years.



West Rhododendron Segment ...
"Most of this Barlow Road segment is curently used as driveways for several residences. A portion of the segment was formerly used as a single lane private road, Chinook Lane. A part of that former lane that is now used as a residential drive has pronounced earthen berms and numerous boulders aligned along both shoulders, much like the east Rhododendron segment. Only a very short segment remains in "pristine" condition, located at the very west end of the segment as the route enters a natural meadow feature known locally as Pioneer Meadow. This shourt section has pronounced earthen berms on both shoulders as it curves down a bank to the meadow floor. The meadow appears to be on public lands immediatly adjacent to private lands and has been largely impacted by State Highway 26 construction. The meadow likely marks the crossing point by the emigrants of the Zigzag River. Portions of this segment have been totally eradicated by installation of a drainfield and construction of Mitchell Road. Obviously, the historic setting has been greatly altered by the built environment of residences and roads. In sum, much of this segment, through still recognizable and supported by historic accounts, has been largely compromised by modern-day development. The segment rates low in integrity of design, setting and feeling. Integrity of location and association has been established through original surveyors' notes and early Rhododendron town maps. ..." ... [Beckham and Hanes, 1992]



Three closely spaced 1898 "Mount Hood Toll Road" surveyor observation points are located in close proximity to the meadow immediately south of the State Highway alignment. These surveyors points essentially mark the pioneer crossings of the Zigzag River and Still Creek. This western "used" portion of the road varies greatly in integrity including a near-"pristine" section immediately east of Arlie Mitchell Road which winds slightly and has pronounced shoulder berms of earth and displaced boulders. ..."


Source:    Clackamas County (Or.), 1993, Barlow Road Historic Corridor: Westernmost Segment of the Oregon Trail: Background Report & Management Plan, Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development.










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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.

Lat/Long were obtained from plotting location on National Geographic's TOPO! program, 3.4.3, 2003.

Sources:    [See Barlow Road Sources]

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November 2015