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Early Tourist Describes Difficulties Reaching Oregon Caves

Good roads lead from Grants Pass to the Oregon Caves National Monument, but it wasn’t always that way.  A visitor to the caves in 1919, Howard Rose, described his difficulties getting there for the Ashland Weekly Tidings.

The Tidings story said, “There are no roads, no guide posts, no accommodations along the way, no horses to take one there after the end of the automobile road is reached … Automobiles can travel over a road that is not worth the name to within five miles of the caves, after which the rest of the journey must be made on foot. On reaching the caves, one can camp in the open, as there are no facilities other than what tourists can pack in on their backs.”

The Tidings added, “But when all these difficulties have been overcome the scene that nature has provided for those who penetrate the wilderness is one of the most wonderful spectacular attractions of the world.”

By 1922 a good road reached the Oregon Caves, and a six-story chateau spanning a gorge was built in 1934, the same year the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps began working inside, outside and around the caves.


Sources: "Oregon Caves." National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 22 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. http://www.nps.gov/orca/learn/historyculture/index.htm;  "Great National Wonder Neglected." Ashland Weekly Tidings 24 Sept. 1919 [Ashland, Ore.] : 1. Print.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.