Exploring the Santiam Wagon Road

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Leader: Mary Ellen West

The Sweet Home Ranger District hosted 31 Obsidians and friends June 14th to begin our effort to discover the Santiam Wagon Road. Personal stories from the road made our day of history more fun. Marcia Morse, longtime forest service volunteer and student of the trail, shared her collection of pictures and stories including from her own family experiences on the wagon road. Lina Cheadle’s 1910 letter to her son, Richard (later Mary Lee Cheadle’s dad), told the story of a family trip on the road from Cascadia to Sisters and back. They walked a lot. Our thanks to Charlotte Skvortsov for typing the letter written to her grandfather. And thanks to Mary Lee Cheadle and Janet Jacobsen for sharing information and stories. The original road from Albany to Sisters and beyond provided commerce in both directions. Today 19.5 miles of the wagon road is developed as a trail system, starting at the Mountain House trail head to a terminus at Fish Lake. A bus stop at the Tombstone Pass entry to the wagon road had wonderful spring wild flowers and snow to enjoy. We stopped at the Cascadia Road House location, one of the most popular, now a state park. From 1900 – 1941 it was a resort where people came for the “waters”. Mary Lee Cheadle remembers folks liking the mineral water and taking some home. It’s gone now, so no sampling. Our final stop was at the most popular road house at Fish Lake. Since the mid 1800’s thousands of travelers along with their livestock, pack animals and freight passed through here. Before the settlers, the native Kalopuya and Molalla Indians fished, hunted and gathered huckleberries here. By 1905 the US Forest Service had an outpost here and last was a remount depot until 2005. Efforts at historical interpretation, preservation and landscape restoration are the focus now. Rolf Anderson, President of Friends of Fish Lake and Jim Denney, McKenzie River Ranger District summer employee shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the area, buildings and history. We concluded our day walking on the Santiam Wagon Road.

Members: West, Mary Ellen, Adamcyk, Thomas, Allen, Ethel, Arthur, Bill, Beard, Barbara, Beard, Paul, Beard, Paula, Bruns, Barbara, Cheadle, Mary Lee, Cutsforth, Sharon, Ewing, Joella, Ewing, Jack, Gadomski, Sharon, Greer, Esme, Greer, Joel, Halpern, Betsy, Jacobsen, Janet, Northrop, Jim, Payne, Don, Phelps, Judy, Prentice, Margaret, Shirk, Velma, Wallace, Barbara. Nonmembers: Dickerman, Betty, Krentz, Alice, Bolles, Shirley, Carpenter, Jane, Cross, Richmond, Kropf, Earl, Lynch, Marilyn, Skvortsov, Charlotte.

Trail down to the springs—photo by Holger Krentz
click here for more photos from this trip

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