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The Dalles to Sandy River Wagon Road: Overland through the Columbia River Gorge

Author(s): Tom Connolly ; Julia A. Knowles

Year: 2015

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Upon reaching the Oregon Cascades, most Oregon Trail pioneers either rafted their wagons down the Columbia River or traveled the Barlow Road overland around the south side of Mt. Hood to the Willamette Valley, both treacherous options. Following the discovery of gold in eastern Oregon, reliable overland travel became an increasing priority, and the state appropriated resources in 1872 to build a wagon road through the Columbia River Gorge. Treacherous slopes, steep grades, and construction of the first rail line through the Gorge by the early 1880s muted the road’s effectiveness, but it was an important initial step by the state to manage a multi-county transportation project, anticipating the later and more successful Columbia River Highway built between 1913 and 1922. The wagon road’s surviving grades remain as tangible examples of early road engineering, and are an important part of the transportation history in the Far West.

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Cite this Record

The Dalles to Sandy River Wagon Road: Overland through the Columbia River Gorge. Tom Connolly, Julia A. Knowles. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434001)


Temporal Keywords
AD 1870-1900

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 311

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America