Barlow Road

When Captain Cavedweller and I headed out on vacation last week, I wanted to drive through a particular area because my next series of books is set there. For visual purposes, I wanted to get up close and personal with the region.

Exploring the town, we decided to take a “short cut” on to the rest of our trip.

That short cut ended up taking a good hour if not two longer than if we’d backtracked and gotten back on the freeway.


But then we would have missed out on some hairpin turns, cliffs with no guard rail… and some really beautiful country.

We drove from Grass Valley to Tygh Valley, Oregon, on an old curvy road that was about to make yours truly car sick. But the views were spectacular.


We came down a winding hill and around a curve to see several people fishing the Deschutes River. Driving a few hundred feet up the road, the river was roiling and absolutely breathtaking to see. You could even feel the spray on your face.

We discovered part of our travels took us over the old Barlow Road. For those of you who aren’t history buffs, the Barlow Road  is a historic road  built in 1846 by Sam Barlow and Philip Foster, with authorization of the Provisional Legislature of Oregon, and served as the last overland segment of the Oregon Trail. Its construction allowed covered wagons to cross the Cascade Range and reach the Willamette Valley, which had previously been nearly impossible. Reports say it was by far the most harrowing 100 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile Oregon Trail journey. I could easily believe that to be true.

Before the opening of the Barlow Road, pioneers traveling by land from the east followed the Oregon Trail to  The Dalles and floated down the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver, which was both dangerous and expensive.

The Barlow Road begins at The Dalles and heads south to Tygh Valley, then turns west and roughly parallels the White River on the north and then west. It  crosses the south shoulder of Mount Hood at Barlow Pass, follows Camp Creek and the Sandy River for some way, ending in Oregon City. When the Mount Hood Highway was constructed, the Barlow Road was mostly abandoned.  It still exists as a dirt road in some places, while most other parts have been paved over by modern streets and highways.

If you are ever in that part of Oregon and don’t mind windy, curvy roads, take a side trip for some scenery you’ll never forget.

She Who Sometimes Enjoys Getting off the Beaten Path

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