© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Motorist Makes Portland-to-Klamath Falls Trip in 1916

The first automobile to make the trip from Portland to Klamath Falls, Ore., faced three days of rough and muddy roads more suited for horse-drawn stage coaches.  The Klamath Falls Evening Herald reported on April 22, 1916, that Harry Telford was the driver of the Michigan-built Saxon motorcar.

Telford told the Evening Herald the car covered 465 miles, averaged 19 miles a gallon and burned a quart of cylinder oil every 78 miles.  Today’s roads have cut the distance to 280 miles, about a five-hour drive.

Telford averaged 25 mph on good roads between Portland and Eugene, but encountered a muddy landslide south of Eugene.

The second day he faced muddy roads between Comstock and Glendale.  After a short stop in Ashland, he drove over the Siskiyous without trouble, and spent the night in Hornbrook, Calif.

He left Hornbrook at 10 a.m. the next day, taking the 62-mile Klamath River stage route up the Klamath River, arriving in Klamath Falls at 3 p.m. He said the road was in fair shape with some rough spots and mud holes.

The direct Ashland-to-Klamath Falls highway, State Route 66, wasn’t built until three years later, basically following the Applegate Trail.


Source: "Saxon Makes First Trip Through From Portland." The Evening Herald 22 Apr. 1916 [Klamath Falls, 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.