Sep 15, 2015
Bend, OR—The Deschutes Land Trust announced today it has established a new historic interpretive trail along the Santiam Wagon Road at the Land Trust’s Whychus Canyon Preserve. The Santiam Wagon Road was built in the 1860s to connect the Willamette Valley via Central Oregon to Idaho. A portion of the historic road passes through Whychus Canyon Preserve northeast of Sisters. The Land Trust’s new Wagon Road interpretive signs provide the only interpretation of the Wagon Road east of the Cascades.
Visitors can now walk in the footsteps of Wagon Road travelers along a 1.1 mile trail that winds through juniper forest and sagebrush meadow. Colorful signs along the way tell the story of the Wagon Road east of the Cascades: its route, re-discovery, use, and place in history. Photos from the era help round out the story. Visitors can hike the Wagon Road and then connect to other trails at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Historic Wagon Road stopping points can also be seen at Land Trust owned Indian Ford Meadow Preserve and Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. The Land Trust also offers free, guided Wagon Road walks: deschuteslandtrust.org/events
“The Land Trust recognizes the important role history plays in our community. When our Land Trust Preserves contain important historical artifacts like the Santiam Wagon Road, we do our best to protect and help educate others about those resources. This project represents a great partnership between the Land Trust, local history organizations, and the Oregon Community Foundation,” said Brad Chalfant, Deschutes Land Trust executive director.
The Santiam Wagon Road served as a livestock trail and the only freight route over the middle section of the Oregon Cascades for most of the 74 years (1865-1939) it was in use. It spanned a distance of almost 400 miles on today’s roads and provided passage for around 5000 wagons during the first 15 years of its existence.
Funding for this project was provided by the Oregon Community Foundation's Oregon Historic Trails Fund. Many thanks as well to volunteer Carol Wall for helping research the road and its connection to Land Trust Preserves. Steve Lent and the Bowman Museum and the Oregon Historical Society were immensely helpful with historical photos. Finally, thanks the Bureau of Land Management for partnering with us on this project.
The Deschutes Land Trust conserves land for wildlife, scenic views, and local communities. As Central Oregon’s only nationally-accredited and locally-based land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has protected more than 8,750 acres since 1995. For more information on Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.
Deschutes Land Trust
Lands in trust protected forever
NOTE: Photos of the Santiam Wagon Road interpretive signs are available.