5. Early Routes‎ > ‎

052.015 Oregon Trail

Between 1843 and 1845, thousands of settlers took to the Oregon Trail. Some traveled overland around Mount Hood on the Barlow Trail.  But others braved the rapids of the Columbia River after their arrival by wagon train at Fort Dalles.  At Celilo Falls, they let their boats down with lines.  At the Great Chute, present day Cascade Locks, Indians helped them portage their belongings for a price. (Durbin 15-16)

Prior to the building of the Barlow road in 1846 all travelers seeking passage to the lower Columbia or Willamette Valleys halted at The Dalles, dismembered their wagons, loaded them upon rafts, and steering the rude barges down the Columbia to the Cascades, docked at the Cascades and portaged wagons and goods around the dangerous white water. Ropes, used as shore lines, guided the rafts to safety.  Oregon State Archives - A 1940 Journey Across Oregon http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/exhibits/across/thedalles.html

This great mountain range one mile and more in height has always been a barrier until now to wagon traffic. The earlier settlers used a trail and portage, or else crossed the range south of Mount Hood on the old Barlow trail. They scrambled up the east side of the mountains as best they could and on reaching the summit cut down a tree and tied it on behind the wagon to serve as a brake to hold them back when they slid down the western slopes. (Lancaster 1914, 58)

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