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Mail Tribune 100, Oct. 18, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

Oct. 18, 1921

THE FIRST ROAD IN SOUTHERN OREGON

By Alice C. Sargent

I writing this article with the hope that the people of southern Oregon, and the Rogue River valley in particular, may become interested in learning something of the history of the first road through this valley.

The only account of this hazardous undertaking was written by Lindsay Applegate, one of the organizers of the expedition, some years after the completion of the work.

In order that all who read this little sketch may understand the motives which induced this little body of men to undertake this dangerous work, I shall quote from the manuscript written by Lindsay Applegate:

“... Our immigration of 1843, being the largest that had ever crossed the plains, our progress was necessarily slow, having to hunt out passes for our wagons over rivers, creeks, deep gullies, digging down the banks where nothing but a pack trail had been before, cutting our way through the dense forests before we could reach the valley of the Columbia, and then it appeared as though our greatest troubles had begun, for here we had to encounter cataracts and falls of the Columbia and the broad and lofty Cascades, with their heavy forests.

“At Fort Walla Walla, on the banks of the Columbia river, with our teams about exhausted, we were advised to leave our wagons and animals over winter at that place in the care of the Hudson Bay Company. A portion of the immigrants, including my two brothers’ families and my own accepted the proposition, providing we could procure boats in which to descend the river, as it was supposed we might procure them from the Hudson Bay Company. Under these considerations we made arrangements with the said company for the care of the latter through the winter. We failed in our efforts to obtain boats; having a whipsaw and other tools with us, we hunted logs from the masses of drift wood lodged along the river banks, hewed them out, sawed them into lumber, and built boats, and with our families and the contents of our wagons, commenced the descent of the river. Dr. Whitman procured us the service of two Indians to act as pilots to The Dalles. From there we thought we would have but little trouble by making a portage at the Cascades ... ”

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com