The Barlow Road

Barlow Road Oregon True West Magazine
John Barlow built the toll road that served travelers as they continued overland in Oregon by traveling through Tygh Valley, around Mount Hood, and ultimately down Laurel Hill and into the Willamette Valley. Filming for the Oregon-California Trail Association documentary In Pursuit of a Dream included several days of trail travel on the Barlow Road.
— Candy Moulton —

The earliest travelers to Oregon Country abandoned their wagons at The Dalles and proceeded on down the Columbia River on rafts that took them to Fort Vancouver. But overland emigrants wanted to keep their wagons rolling, and John Barlow saw an opportunity. He cut a path over the Cascades, through a forest of massive evergreens, sweeping around the base of Mount Hood.

Barlow’s Road crossed through the Tygh Valley and turned west. Winding through a forest, and traversing small creeks and the White River, the road headed west through Summit Meadows to Government Camp before descending the precipitous Laurel Hill. Ultimately, the pioneers put the snow-capped Mount Hood behind them as they followed the Sandy River, and then struck out for Eagle Creek and a campsite at Philip Foster’s Farm. This farm served as the final camping spot for travelers on the Barlow Road, a welcome place to rest and make plans for claiming land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Foster helped build and fund the Barlow Road, no doubt realizing the strategic location of his own farm.

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Candy Moulton

Candy Moulton is a frequent contributor to the Renegade Roads column in True West Magazine. For 17 years, she edited the Western Writers of America’s Roundup Magazine; in 2012, she became WWA’s executive director. The Wyoming native leading the organization has written 13 Western history books (including the Spur-winning biography Chief Joseph), co-edited a short fiction collection and written and produced several documentary films (including the Spur-winning Oregon Trails documentary In Pursuit of a Dream).