Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Army Builds Wagon Road from Jacksonville to Fort Klamath

by Alice Mullaly

Excitement was high on June 15, 1863, at the Jackson County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Ore. Farmers and business owners from all over Southern Oregon gathered that day to form a new company to build a wagon road across the Cascade Mountains to Central Oregon. Mining was declining in Southern Oregon and new markets were badly needed. The John Day gold fields were just getting started and would provide that market. The meeting was a great success with $800 raised and D. D. Munger [MUNG-gur] hired to manage the location and construction of the road.

But the U.S. Army built the wagon road instead, because Fort Klamath needed supplies from the Rogue Valley. Capt. Sprague and 20 men of Company 1, First Oregon Volunteers, spent the next three years surveying and building a military road across the Cascades a few miles south of Crater Lake that joined the road to Jacksonville.

Renewed prosperity came to Southern Oregon when the military road was finished in 1866. Heavy freight wagons, along with miners, and herds of cattle, sheep and pigs, used the road from Jacksonville to Central Oregon.

Later, better roads replaced the military road, which was abandoned.

Originally written January 26, 2009, for the JPR program, As It Was.

Oregon Intelligencer, June 20, 1863; “Discovery and Exploration of Crater Lake: 1853-1885”, Crater Lake National Park Administrative History, http://www.nps.gov/archive/crla/adhi/adhi1a.htm

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