Oregon Trail

In Eastern Oregon, history isn’t buried in books.  It is part of our daily life. You will find it in the DNA of the people that live here.  History is the landscape from the ancient times and stories the Coyote might share with us at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute to the ruts of the Oregon Trail at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

It’s our history.  Come explore. Let it be part of your story!

 

Click Here for a digital page-turning brochure of

The Oregon Trail Transforming the West

 

Click Here for to download a copy of the Oregon Trail brochure:

  Oregon Trail Transforming the West Brochure Pg 1

Oregon Trail Transforming the West Brochure Pg 2

Tom Laidlow’s Clickable Maps of the Oregon Trail

Lewis & Clark Country information

Oregon Historical Markers on Trail


Markers may be placed to commemorate people, places, events, and geological features. Markers are traditionally placed near roadsides as an educational feature for motorists traveling on our highways.  Browse this map to find out more about the Historical Markers throughout the state of Oregon.

Follow the Trail

Snake River Crossing ~ From Ontario follow Hwy. 201 south through Nyssa then continue south of town.  Emigrants entered today’s state of Oregon at the Snake River Crossing near Nyssa, where they risked overturning their wagons, damaging or losing possessions, and even drowning.  An interpretive shelter describes the treacherous crossing and the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Boise, a trading post at the Crossing, where emigrants could buy badly needed provisions…at exorbitant prices.  A monument to Oregon Trail preservationist Ezra Meeker stands at the site.  Contact: Nyssa Chamber of Commerce, 112 Main Street, Nyssa, Oregon 97913; 541-372-3091

Keeney Pass ~ From Hwy. 201, follow Oregon Trail signs northwest toward Vale; if traveling from Vale, river southeast on Enterprise Avenue. The route west from the Snake River was a hot, dry and dusty pull that tested the stamina of the oxen and the patience of the emigrants. Wagon ruts are visible at an interpretive shelter and overlook at Keeney Pass.  Alkali Springs, north of Vale, is another interpretive site directly on the Trail.

Vale & the Malheur River ~ On Washington Street at the east side City park (Hwy 20/26) Emigrants often stopped at the Malheur River to camp, rest, and recuperate a bit before moving on toward Farewell Bend.  An interpretive shelter describes Vale’s history, including the Stone House (circa 1873), where later travelers rested in more comfortable accommodations.  An Ezra Meeker monument stands at the Malheur County Courthouse.  Vale Chamber of Commerce

Ontario Rest Area & Four Rivers Cultural Center ~ On I-84 at mile post 377 – Rest Area access for westbound traffic only; Four Rivers CC is in Ontario at 676 S.W. 5th Avenue.  The Rest Area is a gateway location for travelers entering Oregon. The Oregon Trail shelter here presents a general history of the overland migration, life on the Trail, and nearby Trail sites to visit.  Four Rivers Cultural Center offers a dynamic review of the people that influenced this area, including the pioneers that followed the Trail, and the First Nations.

Farewell Bend State Park & Birch Creek ~ On I-84 at exit 353.  After following the Snake River for more than 320 miles, the emigrants took their last look at their watery guide and set forth across the sagebrush steppes of eastern Oregon.

Weatherby Rest Area & Burnt River Canyon ~ On I-84 at mile post 336. The Burnt River canyon was a significant obstacle to Oregon Trail emigrants.  It often took five or six days to negotiate the steep and dangerous ascent out of the canyon.  Exhibits at the Rest Area explain the canyon’s name and importance.  Continuing on I-84 you’ll pass Pleasant Valley.

National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center ~ From I-84 take exit 302, then drive 5 miles northwest of Baker City on Hwy 86 .  The Bureau of Land Management operates this wonderful facility including exhibits and living history demonstration describing life along the Trail as part of the 1850’s wagon train.  Visits can walk beside ruts left by wagons a century and a half ago. Flagstaff Hill.

Historic Baker City and Baker Heritage Museum ~ Take exit 304 to Historic Baker City; Museum at 2480 Grove & Campbell Street. Historic Baker City offers a step back in time from the Oregon Trail days, to the early miners and merchants of this city known as the “Queen City of the Mines”. Baker County Chamber & Visitors Ctr. and Baker County Tourism are here to help!

Baker Valley Rest Area & Madame Dorian ~ The Rest Area is at mile post 295, and the Dorian marker is off I-84 at exit 285 North Powder, following Hwy. 30 towards Union. After crossing the semi-arid Burnt River watershed and Virtue Flats, emigrants welcomed the Baker Valley’s bunch grass, wood, and water.  Just off I-84, following Hwy. 30 you will find the very interesting history of Madame Dorian, where in 1811 she gave birth while traveling with the Wilson-Price Hunt expeditions. In Union, the Union County Museum offers a look at early history of the pioneers, sheep herders, and cowboys.

Charles Reynolds Rest Area & Ladd Marsh ~ On I-84 at mile post 268. From the emigrants’ perspective, the fertile grasslands and abundant water of the Grande Ronde Valley contrasted sharply against the High Plains’ sagebrush. The Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area offers great bird watching and wildlife viewing.

La Grande & Ezra Meeker Marker ~ From I-84, take exit 261 and procceed to La Grande’s south side.  Birnie Park is at Gekler Lane and “B” Street. Meeker Market is as B & Walnut.  The site of today’s Birnie Park was an important encampment for emigrants preparing for their first ascent into the Blue Mountains. Union County Chamber of Commerce

Hildard Junction State Park ~ On I-84 at exit 252.  Emigrants camped here after their first climb over the Blue Mountains’ steep hillsides.

Emigrant Springs State Park ~ From I-84, take exit 234, then drive south on old Hwy 30. Emigrants waited near the summit of the Blue Mountains for stragglers to catch up, resting from the difficult ascent and watering their livestock while they waited.

Deadman Pass Rest Area ~ On I-84 at mile post 228. Emigrants crossed the Blue Mountains during August, September or October.  The mountains’ steep slopes caused many accident, and wagons sometimes crashed to the bottom of the hills, injuring livestock and emigrants.

Pendleton ~ From I-84, take exit 213 and follow Oregon Trail signs to First Street and Frizier. Emigrants were happy to camp in the rich, well-watered Umatilla Valley.  From here, many traveled north to the Whitman Mission, where they could buy provisions and implements.  The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Indians living here were eager to trade.  Supplying the emigrants’ food stores  and competing directly with the itinerant traders and missionaries. Tamastslikt Cultural Institute and Travel Pendleton.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site ~ From Pendleton, follow Hwy 11 north to Milton-Freewater, and Walla Walla, Washington, then drive six mile west on Hwy 12. Protestant Missionaries  Marcus and Narcissa Whitman founded this mission in 1836.  The National Park Service interprets the Whitman Mission today.

Echo ~ From I-84, take exit 188, then drive one mile south to Hwy 320 to find the city of Echo. The Oregon Trail crosses the Umatilla River at Fort Henrietta park.

Echo Meadow ~ Drive 5.5 miles west of Echo on Hwy 320, then one half-mile north on the gravel road.  While crossing Echo Meadows, emigrants prepared themselves for the dusty and dry road westward to Well Springs and to the John Day and Deschutes rivers.  Visible ruts and a short hike with interpretive signs.

Stanfield Rest Area ~ On I-84 at mile post 186. Many emigrant groups passed near this site as they followed the Umatilla River to the Columbia River.

Wells Springs ~ From I-84, take exit 168, then drive 17 miles south to Juniper Road and eight miles west.  Sections of this route follow gravel roads. (Alternate Route: I-84, exit 147, then south 13 miles to Cecil, and 13 miles east.) Thousands of emigrants traveling along the main route of the Trail across the  Columbia Plateau camped at Well Springs.  Miles of wagon ruts are viable here, along with interpretation.

Arlington ~ On I-84 at exit 137. In the 1840s, many pioneers rafted down the Columbia River in Hudson’s Bay Company bateaux (boasts) or Indian canoes.  Many others chose to travel across the Columbia Plateau south of Arlington. Arlington Chamber.

Fourmile Canyon ~ From I-84, take exit 137, then drive four miles south on Hwy 19, east onto Eightmile Road for five miles, and then two miles to the site on Fourmile Canyon Road.  Sections of this route follow gravel roads. This segment of the Oregon Trail was part of the difficult transit of the Columbia Plateau.  Interpretive panels explain the site’s deep rut scars and the emigrants’ ascent out of the canyon.

John Day River Crossing ~ From I-84, take exit 104, then follow Hwy 97 south to Wasco, then drive east 14 miles on the Klodike-John Day River Road.  Sections of road are gravel. Sheltered interpretive panels mark the John Day River Crossing and describe the emigrants’ delight in reaching the this spot. Having negotiated wagons across sand and rocks, living on limited food and water, and enduring the Columbia Plateau’s blistering heat and bitter cold, it was a good respite.

Deshutes River State Recreation Area ~ From I-84, take exit 104, then drive four miles west of Biggs on old Hwy 30. After crossing the Deshutes River, emigrants completed their long transit of the intermountane west, nearly 800 miles stretching from the Rockies to the Cascades. Interpretation.

The Dalles ~ From I-84, take exit 84 and follow signs to the visitor information center. The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center interprets the natural and cultural history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Columbia River’s currents have carried rafts and boats laden with provision and people for thousands of years. The Dalles Chamber of Commerce.

 

The River Route

Follow I-84 west from The Dalles to I-205, then drive south to Oregon City. (To F

ort Vancouver, follow I-84 to I-5, then drive north across the Columbia River to Vancouver, Washington.)

Memaloose Rest Area ~ On I-84 at mile post 73. Emigrant teamsters herded cattle single file along the Columbia River as pioneers floated past on rafts, in bateaux or canoes, or by the 1850s, aboard steamboats. Interpretation.

Hood River ~ From I-84, take exit 64 and follow signs to the Hood River Info Center. Emigrant men and boys herded their livestock along the south bank of the Columbia River crossing the Dog, or Hood, River on their way to the Upper Cascades.  Other members of the group, those who were ill and women and their children, often rafted on makeshift boats.  Hood River Chamber of Commerce

Cascade Locks ~ From I-84, take exit 40 to Cascade Locks Marine Park at Thunder Island. Many emigrants portaged their goods around the Cascades of the Columbia.  It is difficult to imagine the treacherous series of rapids and cataracts quieted today by the dams.

 Troutdale ~ On I-84 at exit 17. Once past the Cascades, emigrants resumed travel by water.  By the late 1840s, most emigrants choosing the water route moved away from the Columbia at the mouth of the Sandy River and continued overland. Two interpretive signs at the main entrance to the Columbia Gorge Factory Stores and another at the Harlow House, one of Troutdale’s oldest homes, describe Troutdale’s place on the Trail.

 Fort Vancouver National Historic Site ~ Follow I-5 north to Vancouver, Washington, exit 1C, then drive east to Mill Plain, turn south on Fort Vancouver Way to Evergreen Boulevard, and then east on Evergreen past Officer’s Row. Fort Vancouver was the Columbia Department headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company.  A replica of the Hudson’s Bay Company post stands in Fort Vancouver’s original location.

The Barlow Road

Dufur ~ From I-84, take exit 87, then drive south on Highway 197 for 13 miles to Dufur. Emigrants choosing the Barlow Road route traveled south from The Dalles toward Durfur, where the water and camping were both good.  Look for the Oregon Trail marker on Fifteenmile Creek and visit the Dufur Historical Museum. US Forest Service.

Tygh Valley ~ Follow Highway 197 south for 18 miles to Tygh Valley, then west on the Wamic Market Road. Emigrants camped and traded with the local Tygh Indians Here. The wayside high on the Tygh Ridge provides interpretive information and a lovely view of the historic valley below.  US Forest Service.

Rock Creek Reservoir ~ From Tygh Valley, follow the Wamic Market Road to National Forest Route 48. Continue west on National Forest Route 48 to the Rock Creek Reservoir sign. Not accessible in winter months. Wayside exhibit describes the history of travel on the Barlow Road, from wagons to motor vehicles. US Forest Service.

Barlow Gate ~ Follow National Forest Route 48, then turn southeast onto Forest Road 170, and then west onto Forest Road 3530.  Note: Not open in winter months, and higher clearance vehicle recommended. The first tollgate on the original Barlow Road opened here in 1846.  Emigrants were charged $5 per wagon. US Forest Service.

White River Crossing ~ Follow Forest Service road 3530 west to White River Station Campground. Note: Not open in the winter and higher clearance vehicle recommended. An interpretive sign here explains the White River crossing, so named for milky-color runoff from Mount Hood’s melting glaciers. US Forest Service.

Fort Deposit ~ Follow Forest Service Road 3530 west of White River Crossing. Note: Not open in summer and higher clearance vehicle recommended. Historians believe that emigrants opening the Barlow Road in 1845 left their wagons and belonging near here when inter settled in and returned the next spring to collect their goods. US Forest Service.

Devil’s Half Acre ~ Continue on Forest Service road 3530 west to Fort Deposit. This beautiful meadow offers a fine view of Mount Hood.   US Forest Service

Barlow Pass ! Follow Forest Service road 3530 to Highway 35, then south to mile post 62. Note: FS Road not open in winter months and higher clearance vehicle recommended. Named for Sam Barlow, this pass (elevation 4161) crested the Cascade Mountains – the last and most difficult mountain range the Oregon Trail emigranats faced.  The original Barlow Road is evident here and nearby at the Pioneer Woman’s Grave.  US Forest Service

Pioneer Woman’s Grave ~ Follow Highway 35 to mile post 58, then travel on Forest Service 3530 for approximately one mile.  An interpretive exhibit marks the grave of an emigrant women buried in wooden wagon box. US Forest Service

Summit Meadow ~ Follow Highway 35 south to Highway 26, then drive west one mile to Forest Service road 2656, south one half-mile to Forest Road 2612, and then west one half-mile.  Note: Road not open in winter months. The deep, rich grasses the emigrants found in this meadow now just one-third of its original size, provided livestock with some of the first good forage since leaving Tygh Valley.  A corduroy road helped emigrants across this sometimes swampy area.  An emigrant cemetery is across the road from the interpretive sign. US Forest Service

Timberline Lodge ~ Follow Highway 26 to Timberline Road, then drive 6 miles north. From the upper chairlift, see the same panorama viewed by Joel Palmer as he scouted the overland route later known as the Barlow Road. US Forest Service

Government Camp ~ On Highway 26 at mile post 53 on the Government Camp Business Route. In 1849, a U.S. cavalry group crossing the Barlow Road was caught in a winter storm and the troops were forced to abandon several of their wagons. Emigrants who later camped at this site named it Government Camp for the cavalry wagons they found here. The Oregon Trail goes right through town and a stone monument and interpretive shelter in Government Camp orient visitors to the Oregon Trail and the Barlow Road. US Forest Service

Laurel Hill ~ On Highway 26 between mile posts 50 and 51 – access for eastbound traffic only. A well-marked and very short hiking trail guides visitors to the Laurel Hill chute, where emigrants used ropes to lower their wagons down the steep slopes. US Forest Service

West Barlow Tollgate ~ On Highway 26 between mile post 44 & 45. Note: Not accessible in winter months. The West Barlow Tollgate in Rhododendron was the last toll gate operated on the Barlow Road (1879-1919). A replica of the original gate stands between two maple trees planted by Dniel Parker, gate keeper from 1883 to 1902. US Forest Service

Wildwood Recreation Site ~ On Highway 26 near mile post 40, west on Welches. Emigrants camped either at Rhododendron or west of here beside the Sandy River.  After 1847, almost all emigrants traveled through Wildwood before crossing to the north bank of the Sandy River. Bureau of Land Manaagement.

Sandy ~ Follow Highway 26 into Sandy. (Jonsrud Viewpoint: take Bluff Road one mile north on Highway 26 to the overlook. Meinig Park: just south of Highway 26 on Highway 211. Jonsrud Viewpoint overlooks the Barlow Road’s spectacular route from Mount Hood to the Sandy River. Interpretive signs at the Jonsrud Viewpoint and Meinig Park describe the emigrants’ efforts as they neared the end of the Trail. City of Sandy.

Philip Foster Farm ~ Follow Highway 211 to Eagle Creek, 6 miles south of Sandy. Philip Foster’s place on Eagle Creek was the emigrants’ last stop before reaching Oregon City and the end of the Oregon Trail. Weary pioneers could rest here, buy food, or sample on of Mrs. Foster’s famous home-cooked meals before moving down the road. The 9last) Foster house, built in 1882, is on the National Register of Historic Places. JZH Historical Society.

Baker Cabin ~ From Eagle Creek, travel west on Highway 224 to the Springwater-Bakers Ferry Road, and then to the junction of Hattan Road. After living out of the family’s wagon for a number of years, Mrs. Baker’s sympathetic neighbors built this cabin for her in 1856. Mrs. Baker’s husband, a mason, quarried basalt from a nearby pit and was too busy to build a cabin for his family. The Baker Cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only cantilevered log house in Oregon. This site also includes historic pioneer church. Baker Cabin Historical Society.

End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center ~ From the Baker Cabin, travel south on Hattan Road, to Gronlund west onto Bradley Road, then south onto Holcomb Boulevard. Follow Holcomb Boulevard to Abernethy Road, then drive west on Abernethy Road to Washington, Street, then south to the End of the Oregon Trail Visitor Center. After 2,00 miles on the Oregon Trail and a journey lasting five long months, the emigrants finally came to the end of the Trail. at Abernethy Green.  Learn of Oregon City’s early history through exhibits, presentations, and educational facilities at the End of the Oregon Trail Visitors Center and at the many heritage sites within Oregon City. 1726 Washington St., Oregon City, OR 97045; Phone: 503-657-9336; Email: info@historicoregoncity.org