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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostSun Oct 09, 2022 10:23 am 
I am a person that likes to visit places that were created before I was. So yesterday I took my wife and a friend to visit the old toll road up on the McKenzie Pass. The road was first started by Felix Scott in 1862. His route was built to avoid the massive lava fields at the summit. As such he crossed about 1000 feet higher in elevation. It was abandoned shortly after because the heavy snowpacks made the travel season too short to be profitable. A fellow by the name of John Templeton Craig formed a group that took over the road and moved the higher portion down lower and routed it through the lava fields. We walked a portion of that old road, which is still very visible. It looks like it could accept freight wagons and livestock even today.
John Craig went on to become a postmaster. His task was to carry mail from the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon. He would carry the mail by horseback in the summer and on his back with cross country skis in the winter. Near Christmas in 1877 he was traversing the pass in a heavy storm. He had a small cabin a couple of miles west of the summit in which he put into for the night. Something happened and he succumbed to the cold and was not found till the following spring. His grave is at the site of the old cabin. For those that may have never traveled the McKenzie Pass highway, a word of caution. It has lots of curves and is a fairly narrow 2 lane with no bike lanes or shoulders. That means cars and bikes share the same part of the road. Passing a bike can be daunting as there is very little sight distance ahead so oncoming traffic is an issue. There are a lot of nice hikes off this highway, so if ever in the area, check some out. The east side of the pass has had some extensive burns over the past several years, which has compromised some of the hikes especially on hot days.

Riverside Laker, HitTheTrail
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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostSun Oct 09, 2022 1:59 pm 
I have posted a map that shows the location of the old road thru the lava fields. Also, a couple of pictures of a plaque and stone that marks the site of the Craig cabin. The dup of the grave marker was a mistake. There is not a marked trail from the parking lot to the beginning of the road. Why I don't know. I'd think there would be a lot of people that would be interested in walking it and learning some of its history. We didn't find any signage that marked where the road meets the highway on the west end either. All the information I have obtained has been from the internet. I will also add a plug for Admin Toms latest improvement, and that is to be able to save and retrieve a draft for later edits. I have used it on this post and it works great. Thanks Tom.

Anne Elk, Riverside Laker
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Anne Elk
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Anne Elk
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PostMon Oct 10, 2022 8:37 pm 
Interesting history - unknown to this Washingtonian. Thanks for posting it. up.gif

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Riverside Laker
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PostTue Oct 11, 2022 10:10 am 
This is fascinating. Iíve had a hankering to revisit McKenzie Pass for a long time. Now hereís the excuse. Decades ago I crossed the Cascades on that road, on a bike, when it was still gated. No traffic! What a day that was...

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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 8:41 am 
Here is a little more history about this road. It operated as a toll road from 1872 to 1898 when it became public. Tolls charged were: $2.00 for a team and wagon, $1.00 for a mounted rider, 10 cents for a head of cattle, and a nickel per head for sheep. $18,000 in tolls were collected during the time it was in operation. I have no idea how this would relate to today's dollars, or if it could be considered a profitable operation. The amount of revenue does indicate that the road carried quite a bit of traffic, especially if one considers that the road was probably only open from July thru October due to snow. The 2-mile portion through the lava fields does show the kind of effort it took to construct this section. It all must have been done by hand. From 1865 to 1939 there was another wagon road several miles to the north that operated across the mountains. It is known as the Santiam Wagon Road. It originated out of the Albany, Lebanon area in the Valley and made its way up the South Santiam River, over Santiam Pass, and into Sisters. Today this old road is much more publicized. US Highway mostly bypassed this road so there are several sections that are open for hiking and biking.

zimmertr
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RichP
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 9:07 am 
These old wagon roads are fascinating. I recently had the opportunity to visit a stretch of The Elk City Wagon Road in Idaho. Part of the route was originally a Nez Perce trail which was later used by miners. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsm91_055711.pdf

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Anne Elk
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Anne Elk
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 9:28 am 
Dick B wrote:
It operated as a toll road from 1872 to 1898 when it became public. Tolls charged were: $2.00 for a team and wagon, $1.00 for a mounted rider, 10 cents for a head of cattle, and a nickel per head for sheep. $18,000 in tolls were collected during the time it was in operation. I have no idea how this would relate to today's dollars, or if it could be considered a profitable operation.
$1 in 1872 equalled $24.28 in today's dollars; in 1898, $35.68. Source: CPI Inflation Calculator

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Dick B
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Dick B
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PostWed Oct 12, 2022 1:45 pm 
Anne, Thanks for the dollar conversion. If my math is correct, the average value of the dollar between '72 and '98 calcs out at roughly $30.00 (24.30+35.70=60.00/2=$30.00). $30.00 times $18,000 meant that they would have grossed, based on today's dollars, about $539,000 for those 26 years, or roughly $20.7K/year. Doesn't seem like a whole lot considering all the effort involved. Maybe that is why Craig took the mail carrier's job. Of course, people lived much simpler lives back then. Actually, when you consider that the road was only open a few months out of the year, maybe it wasn't such a bad gig after all, and it sure is pretty up there.

Anne Elk
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