Miner’s Trail to California (1983)

Horner Museum Tour Guide Series

The Miners' Trail to California

By Kenneth Munford

(Originally published in the Horner Museum Tour Guide Series, 1983)

Following the route of thousands of Oregonians who dashed south in 1848-49 to make their fortunes in the California gold fields.

THE GOLD RUSHERS of 1848-49 beat several trails southward through the Willamette Valley and into the mountains of southern Oregon. The one we take on this tour follows the Territorial Road of 1854.

See Pioneer Trails from Benton to Douglas County, Horner Museum Tour Guide Series, 1982, pages 5-13, for the route from Corvallis to Roseburg.

From Roseburg watch for these check points.

WINSTON-DILLARD. In the fertile valley to the west, John Dillard took a Donation Land Claim in 1852. In 1882 the railroad named a station for him. Dillard melons come from this area. Winston was named for Elijah Winston, first postmaster in 1893. An African wild-life farm has given Winston prominence in recent years.

MYRTLE CREEK is named for groves of Oregon myrtle. J. B. Weaver came in 1851. For a yoke of oxen he sold his claim in 1852 to Lazarus Wright, who sold to John Hall, who laid out the town and began selling lots. Post office
since 1854.

RIDDLE. Wm. H. Riddle settled here in 1851. The only source of nickel in the U. S. is mined and smelted here by the Hanna Mining Company. Community prosperity varies with the price of this metal. Beyond Riddle the railroad makes a big loop to the west, winding for 35 miles along the steep banks of Cow Creek. We do not see it again until we reach Glendale.

CANYONVILLE leads to Canyon Creek Pass, the bane of immigrants on the Applegate Trail in 1846, where they had to descend from 2,000 to 750 feet elevation. Note retirement home on right as we go through Canyonville. Remnants of earlier roads can be seen, as we soar up and over the pass on I-5 freeway.

AZALEA lies in the pleasant valley of upper Cow Creek. Here we leave the freeway to follow a bit of the old Pacific Highway.

GALESVILLE (also known as Levens) was an important stage-coach stop. Site is on flat area left of the road 2 1/2 miles from Azalea.

GLENDALE got its start as a station on the Oregon & California Railroad. Solomon Abraham, who was buying right-of-way for the railroad, liked the area, bought land for himself, and became a resident. He named the town for his wife Julia, but a railroad official changed the name to Glendale. Sawmills are the principal industry now. Town is too far off the main drag to attract tourists.

WOLF CREEK lies over the next range. The railroad gets there through a tunnel on Tunnel Creek. I-5 goes over Stage Road Pass at 1,830 feet. Wolf Creek Tavern has operated as a wayside inn almost continuously since 1870; now owned and recently restored by State Parks Division.

SMITH HILL, with a summit of 1,727 feet, was another barrier for early travelers. Railroad makes a loop to the west along Wolf Creek.

SUNNY VALLEY and its Grave Creek have somber historical connotations. In the fall of 1846, young Martha Crowley on her way to the Willamette Valley on the Applegate Trail died and was buried here. When James W. Nesmith (later U. S. Senator) came this way with a party bound for California gold fields, they found Martha's grave desecrated by Indians. They reinterred her remains and called the stream Grave Creek. Stage coaches made a regular stop here. On the old Pacific Highway, a covered bridge crossed Grave Creek.

SEXTON MOUNTAIN PASS has been cut down a bit from 2,046 in 1925 to only 1,870 feet. It gets its name from Widow Niday who kept a wayside inn. She married David Sexton and from him the pass and mountain get their names.

PLEASANT VALLEY gets its name from Pleasant Armstrong, early Oregon pioneer. He was killed in August 1853 while serving with Governor Lane in a battle with the Rogue River Indians on Evans Creek a few miles to the east.

GRANTS PASS has nothing to do with Lt. U. S. Grant passing when he should have made a bet in a poker game. Crews were working on the road nearby when news of General Grant's victory at Vicksburg arrived. They decided on the name at that time.

ROCK POINT, near Gold Hill and Ben Hur Lampman State Park, was a regular stop for stage coaches. The stage road left the valley of Rogue River here and turned south to Jacksonville. Lampman was a popular columnist for The Oregonian.

JACKSONVILLE had its gold rush in the early l850s. Over the mines rose the largest town in southern Oregon. It enjoyed prosperity until the railroad bypassed it and Medford became the county seat and metropolis.

ASHLAND (originally Ashland Mills) was started in 1852 by Abel D. Hellman from Ashland County, Ohio. He opened a post office in 1855. He and partners supplied flour and lumber to miners. The Oregon & California and the California & Oregon railroads joined at Ashland in December 1887. After several unsuccessful starts, Southern Oregon Normal School
opened in 1926, with J. A. Churchill as the first president. He brought Angus Bowmer to the faculty to start what has become Ashland's current claim to fame, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

SISKIYOU, the name of the mountains on the Oregon-California border and of the next county we enter, is an Indian word for "bob-tailed horse." In the winter of 1828, the story goes, Archibald McLeod, leading a Hudson's Bay Company pack train through the area, was overtaken by a snowstorm in which he lost most of his animals - including a favorite bob-tailed race horse. The lumber town of McCloud is named for McLeod.

YREKA got a rapid start as a mining camp. Gold was discovered in the spring of 1851. Miners flocked in. Tents and shacks appeared. By May, Main and Miner streets were laid out. In September the first white child was born. Yreka became the seat of Siskiyou County the next year. Among the young men who helped feed the miners was Squire Little Rycraft, who worked in a butcher's stall under an oak tree. He moved on to Oregon to become the first settler in the Alsea Valley of Benton County. He and his brother took supplies to meet incoming wagons on the Oregon Trail, traded them for worn-out oxen, brought the animals to Alsea, fattened them up, drove them to Yreka, butchered them and sold them to miners, and came home with a handsome profit. Took a bit of doing!

MONTAGUE started as a station on the railroad. Some of the early automobile travelers came this way enroute to the Shasta Valley.

GRENADA is also a new town, having been started as a railroad station in 1887.

THE BIG DITCH was built in 1852-56 to bring water for placer mining to Yreka. It tapped the Shasta River near Weed, 30 miles away, and the winding 96-mile ditch brought water to the diggings. Watch for it along the western hillside as we go from Grenada through Gazelle to Weed.

STARVEOUT, a long-time stage stop between Grenada and Gazelle, has now disappeared.

GAZELLE was named for the prong-horned antelopes which roamed the valley - mistakenly called gazelles. Some of the Big Ditch is still in use to bring irrigation to this area.

WEED on the west slope of Mt. Shasta is at the junction of U. S. 97 and I-5. Junction between the old O & C and the present main line of the Southern Pacific is a few miles south at the base of Black Butte.

MT. SHASTA CITY started as a railroad town. Now a ski resort and stopping place for travelers.

DUNSMUIR, situated in the only canyon through which north-south stage coaches, railroad, and modern highways could go, became an important railroad and tourist town. Amtrak still stops here.

CASTELLA calls attention to the unique granite peaks that stick up out of the forested mountains. A railroad museum is being assembled at the base.

LE MOINE and DELTA mentioned in early travel and railroad accounts, can hardly be identified today. They are just above Lakehead, the high water mark for the man-made Shasta Lake. Slate Creek stage stop was near here.

SHASTA DAM, a key source of water for the Central Valley Project was authorized by Congress in 1935. Now you can see the results.

READING SPRINGS, now known as Shasta or Old Shasta, bears the name of a Colonel Reading who came into the area before gold was discovered. To serve miners a camp sprang up. B. R. Biddle, who later became prominent in Corvallis and Corvallis College affairs, with partners from Springfield, Illinois, operated Biddle, Waters & Co., general merchandise in this canyon. State Parks is restoring the area.

REDDING, also named for Col. Reading, got a great boost when Shasta Dam was being built. Much of the gravel for concrete came out of the Sacramento River at Redding and was carried on a conveyor belt more than ten miles to the dam site.

Our homeward-bound route takes us through WEED and on to U. S. 97.

SHEEP ROCK, an identification point on pioneer trails.


COLLIER STATE PARK, unique out-door museum.

CHEMULT, a railroad and tourist town.

WILLAMETTE PASS, first opened as Free Emigrant Road in 1853.


The Oregon-California Question

Long ago explorers made a distinction between the two regions that lie along what is now the west coast of the United States. Spaniards at various times claimed all of it for the King of Spain, calling it Alta California. Sir Francis Drake claimed it for Queen Elizabeth and called it New Albion. George Vancouver claimed the northern part for George III and named it New Georgia.

For a while Spain and Great Britain stood cheek to jowl over who owned the west coast. Negotiators, among them Baron St. Helens, for whom Mount St. Helens is named, kept the hawks from shooting at each other. They agreed to split the territory at 42 degrees North Latitude. Spain agreed to stay south of that line; England agreed to stay north.

England still had their obstreperous former colonies, who called themselves "The United States of America," to deal with. But the line between Oregon and Alta California held firm at 42 degrees.

Spain also had trouble with obstreperous colonies who were irked over administration from Madrid. They declared their independence. The new Mexican government took over the vast grazing concessions that Spain had granted to the string of Franciscan missions in Alta California and began making huge land grants to army veterans and other individua1s who would open ranchos. They let the missions keep a small part of the land they had been using and honored claims of some other developers. Typically the Mexican Land Grants were about 45,000 acres each. This policy of giving large blocks of public land to one owner led to the current pattern in California where vast tracts are owned by individuals, families, and corporations.

In the meantime, north of 42 degrees Great Britain dominated the area through the London-based Hudson's Bay Company. Fur traders and trappers ranged the territory from British Columbia to Utah. The headquarters at Fort Vancouver was the commercial, industrial, political, and social center of the region.

A few Americans straggled into the Oregon Country. When news of the fertile grasslands of the Willamette Valley got out, a trickle and then a flood of settlers began pushing westward - by horseback, by ship, and by covered wagon.

James K. Polk was elected President in 1844 on a platform that cried "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight:" Again, negotiators avoided armed conflict. Queen Victoria's representatives met with Polk's and agreed on a compromise boundary between British and American claims at 49 degrees North Latitude.

American settlers between 42 degrees and 49 degrees were so eager to have their homesteads protected that they formed a Provisional Government. When Congress finally organized the Oregon Territory, they agreed that the property rights of both long-time and more recent settlers should be protected. But the Act of 1850 limited Donation Land Claims to 320 acres for a single man, 640 acres for a married man. The claimant had to be an actual settler who lived on and developed the land.

The contrast between the huge Mexican feudal-type land grants and the U. S. individual land grants is a basic reason why Californians and Oregonians still do not see eye-to-eye on some issues.

The Old California Trail

Before the gold rush of 1848-49 an overland route had already linked Oregon and California. Some of the men who later became prominent in California at first came west through Oregon, for example, Peter Burnett, John Sutter, James Marshall. Likewise some prominent Oregonians came west first to California, for example, Eugene Skinner, Elijah Bristow, and Felix Scott, the first settlers in Lane County.

For twenty years before settlers arrived, trappers and traders on Hudson's Bay Company business had traveled back and forth from the Willamette Valley to the Shasta and Sacramento valleys. In June 1846, American settlers in Polk County - Levi Scott, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, David Goff, and others - had scouted the old pack trail as far south as Ashland and cleared bits of it to permit wagons to pass. Covered wagon pioneers from the Oregon Trail came this way into the Willamette Valley - Alphonso Boone, Tabitha Brown, J. Quinn Thornton, and others.

So before the would-be miners made their mad dash from Oregon to California in 1848-49, there was a trail/road for them to follow. It fairly well paralleled present U. S. 99 and I-5. They looked for other means of getting through the jumble of mountains of southern Oregon and northern California, but there was no other feasible route. There were variations from the present channel of communication, but basically the way the miners went was the way the highways go today.

As travel along this western corridor grew, as pack trains and freight wagons took produce and supplies to the miner's market, as discouraged miners came north looking for more gold fields, as homeseekers moved in both directions, as agents and salesmen made their rounds, the north-south road came into more use. Lindsay Applegate improved the road over the Siskiyous and charged a toll for use of it.

A stage line carried U. S. mail and accommodated the traveling public. By 1866, daily service was offered: "Through in Six Days" between Portland and Sacramento. By this time a telegraph line from Portland through California connected Oregon with the rest of the nation.

The federal government took notice of the need for better communication between its two far-western states and offered large grants of public lands to the California & Oregon Railroad and the Oregon & California Railroad. Construction started in 1868. The California line got as far north as Redding; the Oregon line as far south as Roseburg. Then for a period travelers had to depend on a three-day stage coach service connecting the two rail heads.

After a multitude of financial and construction difficulties the two rail lines finally joined at Ashland on December 17, 1887. The next day the Portland Oregonian declared:

Through the flinty, hard heart of the Siskiyou Mountains, the road has been built, the lines of shining steel laid, and now the "iron nag" rushes through and over those frowning barriers, and its loud shrieks wake the echoes of those wild solitudes... Golden California has been wedded to her northern sister in the strong bonds of a common welfare, and the two states firmly united by clasping bands of steel.

For the next fifty years the "iron nags" on "lines of shining steel" dominated Oregon-California travel and freight hauling. The Shasta Route, said the Southern Pacific, was the most scenic in America. Publicists enticed visitors to see the grandeur of the region from the comfort of an observation car. They offered amenities such as stop-overs at spas like Shasta Springs and Boswell Springs.

Then came the horseless carriage, a marvelous new self-propelled automobile that gave travelers a new independence and sense of freedom. Applied to stage coaches and freight wagons, the internal combustion engine began taking over the duties of dray animals and the iron horse.

Gold Fever Decimates the Willamette Valley

JOHN AUGUSTUS SUTTER, a Swiss immigrant, came west to Oregon in 1838. He visited Ewing Young in the Chehalem Valley and talked of cattle drives. Sutter at that time planned to go to California and return with a herd of cattle and to encourage settlers to come to Oregon from Switzerland. When he reached California, however, he found that it was possible for him to obtain a Mexican Land Grant of 48,839 acres along the American River in the Sacramento Valley. He gave up plans to return to Oregon. In 1841, when the Russians abandoned Fort Ross on the coast north of San Francisco, Sutter bought the movable buildings and moved them and other property to the fort he was building at Sacramento.

JAMES WILSON MARSHALL from New Jersey came west overland in 1844. After wintering at Fort Hall in eastern Idaho he came on to the Willamette Valley in the spring of 1845. He decided to keep going and reached Sutter's Fort in July l845. Sutter gave him employment. Two and a half years later he was building a sawmill for Sutter 35 miles above the Fort. On January 24, 1848, he picked up a yellow rock from the millrace. It was identified as solid GOLD! The news got around and prospectors began probing the streams on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, some of them coming out with pouches of yellow dust and nuggets.

News of GOLD in California came to Oregon via two ships in the summer of 1848. A Captain Newell came into the Columbia in the fast-sailing Honolulu and began buying all of the picks, crowbars, axes, and other hardware he could find. He let it be known that he needed them for miners who were digging coal for the mail steamers. Just before he left he pulled out a sack of gold to pay for his purchases and let it be known that it had been dug in California streams. About the same time similar news traveled from a ship that had put in at Nisqually on Puget Sound and on to Fort Vancouver.

The news of GOLD in California spread rapidly throughout the Willamette Valley. At Brownsville a slate of officers had just been elected for the new Linn County government. All of them, except the Sheriff, who had been in a fight with an Indian and was too wounded to travel, left for California.

The Oregon Spectator and other newspapers had to suspend publication for a time because their printers had left for California. The Provisional Legislature could not muster a quorum to transact public business. Some accounts say that two-thirds of the able-bodied manpower left whatever they were doing and headed for California. One historian says that 3,000 officers, lawyers, physicians, farmers, and mechanics came down with "gold fever" and deserted their homes, farms, and professions.

Here are examples of how this fever affected men who became prominent in affairs of the Oregon Country:

CAPT. JOHN T. APPERSON, for whom Apperson Hall on the OSU campus is named, had come west with his parents in 1847, his father dying enroute. At age 15 young John joined the gold rush in 1849. Because of poor health he soon returned. He became a lieutenant in the First Oregon Cavalry in the Civil War, then went into steamboating on the Willamette, thereby acquiring the title of "Captain." He was a long time supporter and member of the Board of Regents of Oregon Agricultural College.

LINDSAY APPLEGATE, one of the three brothers who brought their families overland to Oregon in 1843, prospected on the river that now bears his name in southern Oregon on his way to California. He later operated a toll road over the Siskiyous to accommodate the increasing travel betweenOregon and California.

JOSEPH CONANT AVERY, first resident and founder of Marysville, went to California in 1848 and with the gold acquired there purchased a stock of merchandise with which he opened the first store in Corvallis.

BENJAMIN ROBERT BIDDLE, supporter of Corvallis College and father of its first woman graduate, went to California from Springfield, Illinois. With four partners he opened Biddle & Waters general merchandise store in Reading Springs (now Shasta) mining camp. After visiting his sister, Harriet, Mrs. Hamilton Campbell, in the Willamette Valley, he decided to move his family to Oregon. They took a Donation Land Claim on upper Oak Creek near Corvallis and later built the Jack Porter house still standing at 6th and Harrison.

ALPHONSO BOONE, grandson of Daniel Boone was a widower with ten children when he came west with nine of them on the Applegate Trail in 1846. He went to California gold fields with sons George and Alphonso D. and died there. The sons returned to Oregon and with other members of the family operated Boone's Ferry at present Wilsonville.

SAMUEL BROWN, founder of the town of Gervais, started west to Oregon but decided enroute to go to California. He came to French Prairie later with an alleged $20,000 profit from gold digging and built the Sam Brown house, once a stage stop, which still stands near Gervais.

PETER H. BURNETT, member of the Great Migration of 1843, was a co-founder of Linnton near Portland. He was active in local government. President Polk appointed him a Supreme Court Justice for the Oregon Territory, but by the time he was to take office he had left for California, where he remained to become the first Governor of the State of California.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS CHAPMAN had been a U. S. Attorney and member of Congress from Iowa before he came to Oregon in 1847. While attending court at Knox Butte near Albany, news of the California GOLD strike arrived. Judge, jury, prisoners, and spectators forthwith left for the diggings. Chapman came back to Oregon with Territorial Governor Joseph Lane. He engaged in politics and became a co-founder of The Oregonian newspaper.

COL. THOMAS R. CORNELIUS came west with his parents in 1845. He went to the California gold fields and returned in 1849 to settle at Cornelius in Washington County. He was active in business and politics.

CHARLES J. DRAIN, founder of the town of Drain, had been in the gold fields before he came to Linn County in l852 and Douglas County in 1860. He and his son donated land for station and yards to the Oregon & California Railroad.

ALBERT ALONZO DURHAM, founder of what is now Lake Oswego, came west from New York state in 1847. He went to the gold fields where, it is said, he found a bonanza.

RICHARD CHISM FINLEY had gone into debt to build a flour mill on the Calapooia River. "About the time the mill was completed," his daughter Eliza Finley Brandon later related, "news of the California gold strike reached the Calapooia. My father saw hopes of finding a quick way out of his debts and on the day the mill was finished ground wheat in the forenoon and in the afternoon mounted a horse and rode away to the mines. … He often sent gold dust to my mother to be used in paying off debts." Other settlers, curious to see the gold and touch it, carried away bits on their fingers. Mrs. Finley avoided this waste by applying the gold on debts as soon as it arrived. After he came home Finley and partners built a mill race and mill and laid out the town of Boston, two miles east of Shedd. A water-powered grist mill still operates at this location.

JOSEPH HAMILTON LAMBERT, developer of the Lambert cherry, tried gold mining in California, then returned to manage his orchard at Milwaukie and to become active in local government and various businesses.

LYMAN DANIEL CORNWALL LATOURETTE was a pioneer teacher and merchant in Oregon City. After he returned from the California gold fields he opened a store which was the first to stock school books. He helped open the college in Oregon City that eventually became Linfield College.

HENRY A. C. LEE, of the famous Lee family of Virginia, came west in 1843. He helped found the Provisional Government and fought in the Cayuse War. After mining successfully in California he returned to enter business in
Oregon City.

REUBEN LEWIS, Constable for the Provisional Government, took a Donation Land Claim near Turner. He went to the California gold fields and returned by way of New York and Wisconsin, bringing his mother to Oregon with him.

HENDERSON LEWELLING, operator of the first fruit-tree nursery in Oregon at Milwaukie, went with his son-in-law, William Meek, to the Feather River mines. Back in Oregon he was joined by his brother Seth Lewelling in the fruit-tree growing business.

MORTON MATTHEW MCCARVER, co-founder of' Linnton with Peter Burnett in 1843, had a land claim and orchard near Oregon City, but went with the gold rushers. He founded the city of Sacramento, bought a ship and returned to Oregon with a load of immigrants and a pre-cut "Aladdin House." He later founded the city of Tacoma in the Washington Territory.

CHARLES RICHARD MCKAY and family from Canada came to Fort Nisqually in 1841. He removed to Glencoe in Washington County. After returning from California gold mines he went into business in Portland.

THOMAS MCKAY, step-son of Dr. John McLoughlin, roved throughout the Oregon Country and made at least one trip to California gold mines.

STEPHEN HALL MEEK, leader of the ill-fated immigrant trail over Meek's Cut-Off through Central Oregon in 1845, twice went to California and was alleged to have amassed a fortune of $34,000. Later he piloted a party of thirty prospectors to the Malheur River mines.

JAMES WILLIS NESMITH, Oregon's first six-year Senator, came west in 1843 andbecame a Provisional Government supreme court judge. He followed the golden trail to California in 1848, returned to Rickreall, where with his wife, Pauline nee Goff, he made developments that can still be identified. He was U. S. Marshal, colonel in the Yakima Indian War.

DR. ROBERT NEWELL, who drove the first wagon over the Oregon Trail to the Columbia in 1840, followed the gold rush to California in 1849. He returned to plat the town of Champoeg - and to lose all of his property in the flood of December 1861.

NATHAN OLNEY came to The Dalles in 1847, left for California in 1848, and returned to operate a ferry over the Deschutes River. He was Sheriff of Wasco County and held other positions.

WILLIAM HENDERSON PACKWOOD, a distant relative of' Senator Robert Packwood, came to Oregon with the U. S. Mounted Rifles in 1849. He went to California and returned in 1851 to become active in politics and to mine in eastern Oregon, where he helped layout the town of Auburn.

JOEL PALMER, co-founder of Dayton and Commissary General in the Cayuse War, joined the gold rush in 1848. He returned in 1849, became Superintendent of Indian Affairs, purchased land for the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation, built a house in Dayton, still standing, and engaged in other activities.

FRANCIS W. PETTYGROVE, pioneer Portland landowner, came with his wife, child, sister (Mrs. Philip Foster), and her family by ship from Maine in 1843. He gave Portland its name but sold out his property to go to California gold fields. Upon return he helped build the plank road up the canyon from Portland into the Tualatin Valley, giving Portland the edge in becoming the metropolis.

JOHN EDMUNDS PICKERNELL, pioneer Columbia River pilot, came to Oregon in 1837. He went to California but returned in 1850 to become for many years the principal pilot for tow boats and passenger boats on the lower Columbia.

JOHN R. PORTER, pioneer nurseryman, was lured to California for gold, but what interested him more were the California sequoias. Seven years later he returned with two gunny-sacks of seeds, which have produced the huge sequoias at the site of his home, in Verboort, in Forest Grove, and in Hillsboro.

JOHN MINTO, who had been a coal miner in England and Pennsylvania, came to Oregon in 1844. He worked for Peter Burnett and in Hunt's sawmill. His wife was not happy when he left for California, with "hardly a man left in the vicinity to protect the womenfolk." But he returned jubilant with enough yellow dust to buy the finest in rare fruit trees and flowers. He became a prominent agriculturalist, writing articles for scientific journals, and as an explorer in the central Cascades.

SQUIRE LITTLE RYCRAFT crossed the plains from Indiana to California and worked in a butcher's stall under an oak tree in Yreka. He later came to Oregon and located a Donation Land Claim in the Alsea Valley in southwest Benton County. His brother George joined him. In the fall of 1853 they took a stock of provisions to meet incoming immigrants on the Barlow Trail. They traded supplies for jaded oxen, brought them back to Alsea, fattened them up, drove them to Yreka, where Squire later said, "We butchered them and sold the meat at good prices to the miners. We came back with a good stake."

FELIX SCOTT, JR., who opened the McKenzie Pass road, came to Lane County with his parents in 1846. He and his father and brother Marion tried their hands at California gold mining and returned with "considerable capital."

GEORGE SETTLEMIER, father of Jesse H. Sett1emier the founder of Woodburn, followed the gold rush west from Elgin, Illinois, in 1849 and came on to French Prairie in the Willamette Valley afterwards.

ROBERT VALENTINE SHORT, surveyor and legislator, came west with Joel Palmer on Palmer's second trip west in 1847. He started a tailor shop but left it to go dig gold. When he returned he surveyed the townsite of Portland and built a house on Third Street.

BENJAMIN STARK, for whom Stark Street in Portland is named, came to Oregon by sea in 1845. He started a mercantile business and bought part of Portland. While he was gone to California someone jumped his land claim. He went to court and received the triangle between Stark and Ankeny from 10th Street to the river. He made his fortune selling lots.

DANIEL W. STEARNS, freighter and state legislator, followed the gold rush west from New Hampshire and found profit in hauling freight in various parts of the west. He ran a store in Yreka for two years and also lived in Roseburg and Elkton before moving to Oakland, in Douglas County, where he spent the rest of his life.

JAMES B. STEPHENS came to Oregon in 1844, claimed land on the Willamette, and started the first ferry in the Tuality District. He went to the gold fields in 1848-49 but returned to lay out East Portland.

FENDEL SUTHERLIN was just out of Greencastle College when he came to Oregon in 1847 and got a job as a cook in a Portland hotel. He joined the gold rush in 1849 and returned the next year. His parents came west and brought the first turkeys to Oregon. They settled in the community that bears the family name, raising irrigated fruit and turkeys. Nearby Oakland became famous for its Turkey Show.

JAMES TERWILLIGER came overland to Oregon in 1845 and opened a blacksmith shop and tannery. He went to the gold fields and returned to buy 640 acres in south Portland. Terwilliger Boulevard, a park, a city section, and a school bear his name.

ROBERT R. THOMPSON crossed the plains to Oregon City in 1846. He went to California in 1848-49 and returned with "a long purse." He took a Donation Land Claim in The Dalles and began building boats, which he operated on the Columbia. With the help of partner Simeon Reed, he amassed a fortune.

AARON E. WAITE, first Chief Justice for the State of Oregon, came to Oregon in 1847. After digging gold in California, he returned to take up his law practice.

WILLIAM WALDO, member of the famous family that arrived in 1845 and settled in the Waldo Hills east of Salem, went to the California mines in 1849, where he worked for a time at Yreka. Back in Oregon he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and got into politics.

ARIO SCOTT WATT, who named the town of Amity in Yamhill County, said, "In the spring of 1849 I had made all arrangements to go to the gold fields in California. I had sent on by ox team my clothing and share of provisions and was to follow on horseback with my brother Joseph Watt and overtake the team at the head of the valley. In the meantime I was visited by a delegation of neighbors... Through their representations I was induced for the present to give up my proposed trip and to teach school for them during the summer." Ahio never did get to make his trip to the gold fields... but had other adventures in the development of Lafayette and other parts of Yamhill County.

LOT WHITCOMB arrived in Oregon in 1847. He helped found the town of Milwaukie. He built the schooner Milwaukie for trade with Sacramento in 1849 and bought the brig Forrest to ship lumber which sold at $250-$300 a thousand to California. On Christmas Day in 1850 he launched the Lot Whitcomb, first steamboat on the Willamette. He made his fortune in the gold rush by staying home.

JOHN WHITEAKER, first Governor of the State of Oregon, went from and returned to Missouri after the gold rush. He came to Oregon in 1852 and for many years had his home near Pleasant Hill in Lane County. He was Governor 1859-62, Congressman 1879-81. Ironically, both JOHN SUTTER, on whose property gold was discovered, and JAMES MARSHALL, who picked up the first nugget at Sutter's mill, died poor men.

Wallis Nash's Stage Coach Journey - Redding to Roseburg (1877)

Wallis Nash, an English lawyer, first came to Oregon to see about building a railroad between Corvallis and Yaquina Bay. Back in London, he wrote Oregon: There and Back in 1877 (reprinted by Oregon State University Press in 1976). In its pages, he recounts his stage coach ride from Redding to Roseburg.

Motoring to California in 1915

From the diary of Flora M. Munford, edited by Kenneth Munford

My mother kept a diary she called "On to California" for our trip to San Francisco in June 1915.

With us were my father, William B. Munford, M.D. (1873-1918), and my nine-year-old brother, Wilbert. My mother was 44; I had just passed my third birthday.

My mother and father had grown up together in Illinois and Kansas. He had attended Sterling College and Kansas Medical College in Topeka, graduating in 1905. My mother was a dressmaker in Greeley, Colorado, when he came to marry her soon after he had started practice. My brother was born the next year.

They moved to Tillamook, then to Banks, where my father was the only physician and surgeon in northern Washington County. He also owned the Banks Pharmacy. He wanted to attend the Annual Session of the American Medical Association being held at the time of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition June 22-25, 1915.

To serve his patients in his wide territory, he at first depended on horsepower; then he bought a motorcycle, which proved too hard on the back over country roads. He traded it in for $275 on a 1909 Maxwell, adding $400 in cash. Later he traded for a 1912 and believed he had it ready - with several spare tires tied on the back - for the 1915 trip.

The Maxwell had only one seat. It had a platform on the back to carry a trunk which could be taken into hotels for overnight lodging.

Traveling, I sat between Papa and Mama and my brother sat on a folding camp chair in front of my mother. The auto had a cloth cover, but I cannot tell from the diary whether or not it was raised or folded back through most of the journey.

As we were preparing for the trip, an aunt who worked in the Pharmacy is reported to have protested. "You are not going to take that baby with you!"

My father rep1ied, "If Kenneth doesn't go, I won't go."

My mother's diary was written in pencil on a thick unlined scratch pad. On the first page she noted times and distances enroute. Her narrative begins:

June 15, 1915

Left Banks at 8:30 a.m. Stopped a few minutes at Forest Grove, reached Salem at 12:30, where we had dinner. Then visited the State House. Rather a cheap looking affair in comparison with Kansas Capitol with its marble and granite walls. But the grounds are beautiful. One block in particular seemed to be for the pleasure and comfort of the public so we lay and rested under the big trees. Boys enjoyed the fountain and the fish in basin. Left about 3 p.m. Here we took the Pacific Highway, which we expect to follow to San Francisco.

Talk about roads. We thought we had good roads, but these could hardly be surpassed for country roads. Our spirits all rose to a high pitch. The boys composed "Ching Chong Chinaman" rhymes. The Dr. repeated snatches of "Sheridan's Ride":

"But there is a Highway from Winchester town,
A good broad highway leading down...
Hills rose and fell for our hearts were gay..."

Maxie sped along like he had caught the spirit too.

Before we reached Albany we came up to four girls and an Auto. Auto had a broken wheel. We carried the wheel in to Jefferson for them where a man with a motorcycle took charge of it. Stopped at Harrisburg for supper. Crossed Willamette on the ferry. Made trip from Harrisburg to Eugene in 1 hr. Roads A. No.1. Got to Eugene at 8:30. All tired but feeling fine.

June 16

Left Eugene at 9:30. Reached Drain at 12:30 - 39 miles. Roads rough most of way. Find we have a broken spring. Otherwise everything O.K.

Left Drain about 4 o'clock. Roads good again. Reached Roseburg about 8:00.

Wed. June 17

Left Roseburg 7:40. All feeling rested. Wanted to make Grants Pass by noon - 70 mi. But struck steep grades and rocked roads. Fine roads to Canyonville and Glendale. Wilbert and I got lost in Glendale. We can't go into a Saloon town and come out straight. Turned on wrong road at Sutherlin (wet town) had two extra miles to make.

From Glendale to Wolf Creek up Cow Creek Canyon (now known as Tunnel Creek road). Came over steep grades of newly rocked roads and steep grades from Wolf Creek to Grants Pass over two more Smith Hill steep grades. The three finished a tire. The children and I walked down two steep grades.

At Wolf Creek we found we might have been saved that awful hill by coming over old Stage road. Glendale fighting for new road for Pacific Highway as old State road cuts off Glendale.

(The way we went from Glendale to Wolf Creek is still passable today, but only with a 4-wheel drive vehicle.)

Reached Grants Pass about 5 o'clock. Just before we got to Central Point broke spring over aqain. Passed tourists we met at Glendale (from Everett, Wash.) with punctured tire. Reached Medford at 8:30.

Thursday morning

Will get out of Medford with new spring about 10:30.

Left Medford at 12:20. Had dinner at Ashland and left at 1:30. 14 miles to top of Siskiyou. Reached summit 2:15. Made several stops on way to view valley. Roads A. No.1.

Took about an hour coming down into Klamath valley. Roads fair, some rock stretches. Don't think much of California roads for a few miles then struck new work on Pacific Highway mostly fine. Then we got into prairie roads. Everybody gay! Roads best we have found where not paved.

Stopped at Montague for gasoline and simply flew for miles. Old Mt. Shasta in view until rain cloud covers it. By the time we reach Gazelle we are into the rain and hail. Stop under shed. Put chains on and soon go on. Hard rain. Water running in streams on the roads and fields. Regular mountain squall. Country hilly. Culverts covered with water.

Maxwell seemed gayest of gay. Really acted like he enjoyed the fight with the elements. Wilbert having new experience with rain, hail, lightning, and thunder. Wants to stop at every farm house. Make Weed at 8:30.

No one got much wet. Have quite a time getting beds arranged. Wilbert can't eat any supper. Doesn't like looks of Jap (cook) and doesn't like the way he fries steak right on the stove (griddle) and the way his sandals squish on his bare feet. Guess he is nervous and excited.

Kenneth is delighted to find Jack (his favorite doll, who came popping out of the trunk).

Friday, June 19

Everyone slept fine but me. First it was the train, then the big mill whistle, then men coming in and out, etc. all night. Don't believe I slept one straight hour.

Sun shining brightly. The beginning of a beautiful day.

Came to State Fish Hatchery a little after nine, stopped for half or three quarters of hr.

Stopped again at Shasta Springs. Went through the park. Walked down the trail to the Springs. A beautiful wonderful trail. Drink water that tastes like Sodium Phosphate. Kenneth says, Bah! at it. Train comes in while we are there; people pile out to get a taste of the water; faces show anticipation and eagerness. Get their drink and go back to the train with noses up and mouths puckered. Guess they don't like it very well.

We come on to Dunsmuir where we get a little lunch. We find a nice picnic spot where we eat our dinner and Will overhauls the Auto. Boys go in wading. Go on about three miles where we have a breakdown, gearing caught. Two men in a big Auto come along, give what help they can, then bring me and the boys to Dunsmuir where we send out a man to tow our machine in. Anxious moments as a result of last night's dream. When Will gets in it is too late to do anything to machine. We put up at Hotel Weed... See Lord Stanglish in moving picture.

Saturday, June 20

All slept fine. Will got up early to help at garage. Boys and I breakfast about 9:30. Have to send to San Francisco for repairs. Take lunch about 12 o'clock, go up the river towards Shasta Springs. Eat lunch by river. Will naps. Walk on to the Springs and come back on train about 6 o'clock. Walk is beautiful. The river is like rapids all the way. Get drink at Upper Soda Springs. Don't like it. Get picture of river and foot bridge. Moss Brae Falls is a series of falls all along the bank below the Springs. Get ice cream at Moss Brae Inn. Such a pretty quiet restful place.

Sunday, June 21

Went to Sunday School this morning. Teacher uses lecture method. Lectures mostly on her own experiences. Minister gives talk on Vacant Chair. "In my Father's house are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you." A good talk. Minister Nelson seems earnest. Surely has a hard place to work in. Children's Day.

All slept this P.M. Repairs have not come, are discussing going to San Francisco by rail so Will won't miss the A. M. A. ...Repairs come.

Went to lecture on "Peace" by Miss Ballou from Kentuck'. Three heads, Mother & House; Labor and Capital; Wa'er. Best talk on the war. If Hearst & his followers must have war, get out English naturalization papers for them and let them fight. If America sympathized with any nation at war now, all forces would join against her and be proud to carry home a piece of Uncle Sam's coattail as a trophy. Like a man interfering with Italian who was beating his wife. The wife turned on the rescuer and nearly beat him to death.

Monday June 22, 1915

Worked on machine nearly all day but did not get through. Children and I went down by the river in late P.M.

Crocheted edge on hand bag and worked on Kenneth's slipper. Went in evening to free pictures and lecture to R.R. men on Explosives and transportation. Good. Very instructive, especially to R.R. men. Movies good. "A Losing Game" (dope fiend), "A Rural Lover," "Romance of Composer," "Adventures of a Lost Wife," from Pictorial Review, October.

Tuesday 23

Kenneth sick at stomach and vomited this morning. Result of Pheno Thalen. Hope we will get on our way this morning.

Left Dunsmuir 12:30. Roads narrow, crooked, and rocky. Came to place where they were grading roads, broke back spring. Worked about 1 hr. and got to Le Moine with it. The place where we stopped for dinner was a pretty place; we got milk. They invited us to eat our lunch out in their yard under the cherry trees.

Found a very pretty place to put up at Le Moine. Box factory town, most of the town owned by the Company. Nice rooms with river roaring just outside. Big comfortable porch. Children enjoyed it so much. Idle men everywhere.

June 24, Wednesday

Had to stay all day. At 5:30 we thought we would get started on. Spring gave way where it was welded before. We got help at the store a hundred yards away.

Spring we telegraphed to San Francisco for has not come yet. Will decided that he & Wilbert will start out this morning anyway early and Kenneth and I will take baggage and go on next train to Redding.

Thursday, 25

Will & Wilbert started out about five o'clock this morning. Kenneth and I at 7:45.

My, my such a country. Desolation doesn't describe it. I am afraid Will & Wilbert will have an awful trip of it. We are at Temple Hotel in Redding. Kenneth asleep. I have had a nap and it is 12:30. Am getting anxious for W & W to get here.

3 p.m. Went out to walk off nervousness and get Red Book. For dinner had grease pork, grease potatoes, cabbage & turnips, and flies. Couldn't go it, so got some ice cream. Found Will & Wilbert had got in when we got back at 3. Spring came here and nerves can relax a little.

Left Redding about 5 o'clock and run to Red Bluff Hotel. Fairly good. Got in at 8:30.

Will & Wilbert had an awfully hard trip. Wilbert is about tired out this evening. Road bed good but narrow and winding. They met team on narrow grade and had to back down about a block. Steep climbs. Got along very well with broken spring.

Friday, June 26

Made a good day's travel today from Red Bluff to Woodland. State Highway for considerable of the way. Woodland is a pretty town. Mt. Lassen is in eruption. We stop to watch it. One place while Will is making sure of front wheel I watched the mountain. It would smoke up and up until about as high as the mt. itself then gradually fall until it was gone. It did that three times while we stopped, probably 20 or 25 minutes. It was a great sight. We watch it most all day.

Saturday 27

This has been a hard long rough ride. Have to go around so many places to avoid construction work. Come through acres and acres of fruit lands. Pass the orchards where they are sun drying apricots. Awfully hilly and bumpy. Come to Vallejo and ferry to Martinez. See trains ferrying across in largest train ferry in world. Get to Oakland about 3 p.m. and get two nice rooms at Sutter Hotel. All have bath and shampoo...

As the reader may have noticed, the delays enroute caused my father to miss AMA meetings, which closed the day we reached Oakland. Undaunted, however, we had a delightful time at the World's Fair, taking a ferry from Oakland to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street or direct to Fair Grounds.

One day we saw an Aeroplane flying overhead. We heard Sousa's band and many concerts. At the Panama Canal exhibit, we rode along a circular balcony watching tiny ships pass up and down the locks in a large model. One of my earliest memories is of horror when one of the tiny ships got stuck and whole mountain beside it raised and a huge giant came out to move the vessel forward.

After the Fair we drove through Stockton to Yosemite National Park. We saw waterfalls and the fire fall, etc., and went on to the Wawona Grove were we drove through a redwood tree. We had more car trouble and were delayed several days at Wawona Grove.

For the return trip to Oregon, my father decided to put Maxie and the rest of us on an ocean-going steamer - rather than facing the desolation of northern California and the "rocked roads" of southern Oregon.

The New Era

This 1915 trip came at the dawn of a new era in travel along the old California Trail. Maxwells, Fords, Overlands, Reo Speed Wagons, Essex Super Sixes, and other new-fangled horseless carriages - to the delight of their owners - rambled over old wagon roads, climbed mountains, and sped along dusty plains. GMC and Mack trucks hauled cargo previously pulled by teamsters and iron horses.

Motorists asked for improvements. The Good Roads movement promoted market roads and urged paving of interurban routes. Sam Hill, the inspiration for the Columbia River Highway and builder of Maryhill, as president of the Pacific Highway Association, gave dozens of illustrated lectures.

It was time to build the Pacific Highway. Construction started in World War I. By 1922 a solid ribbon of concrete ran all the way from Canada to Mexico. Bits of this old highway we can find today look like a one-lane road. It became U. S. 99. Between Sacramento and Red Bluff and between Junction City and Portland it split into 99 West and 99 East.

Realizing a new source of income, communities along the way built facilities: Camp Grounds, Tourist Courts, and coined the new word for motor hotels, "Motels."

Blacksmith shops began pumping gasoline, pouring oil, and "vulcanizing" punctured inner tubes. Auto dealers stocked spare parts so that stranded motorists did not have to wait for spring or gears to come from San Francisco.

The railroad also shared in the surge of north-south traffic. Operated by the Southern Pacific, the old O & C and C & O lines prospered. But it was a difficult route. Crossing the Siskiyous required 16 tunnels, and 100 miles of curved track in 171 miles, equivalent to 88 complete circles. In steep canyons, as along Cow Creek from Riddle to Glendale, landslides often blocked traffic.

In the 1930s, SP rerouted the main line to avoid these difficulties. Over strenuous protests from Ashland, Medford, and Roseburg, SP ran the new mainline northeast from near Weed to Klamath Falls and Chemult and over the Cascade Ranges on the Willamette Pass into Eugene. Freight for the Inland Empire - Spokane and Boise - could go on what are now Burlington Northern tracks, bypassing Portland.

SP still enjoyed generous passenger services for a time with Daylight and Starlight trains running, but competition with U. S. 99 put an end to it. Federally assisted Amtrak still hauls passengers, but only a small percentage of people movement.

The old O & C line in southern Oregon is in operation as a freight line servicing industries of the area, but except for an occasional excursion, carries no passengers.

Today U. S. Interstate 5 and air lines carry the bulk of passenger traffic along the Oregon-California connection.