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Pioneer Levi Scott Becomes Prominent Oregon Figure

It’s usually called the Applegate Trail, but no one was more involved in its creation and improvement than Capt. Levi Scott.

Scott participated in the first, failed attempt in 1846 to find a southern route over the Cascade Mountains to avoid the dangerous, sometimes deadly, float down the Columbia River.  A month later he joined Jesse Applegate’s volunteers, who found a southern pass through the mountains to Fort Hall on the Snake River.  Applegate recruited emigrants and headed back to Oregon, leaving Scott to lead the first wagons over mountains and deserts to the Rogue Valley, where they headed north to the Umpqua and Willamette Valleys on the same basic route Interstate 5 follows today.

Scott retraced the Applegate Trail twice, as leader of the second wagon train the following year and again in 1849 as guide for the resupply of the first federal troops in the Far West.

Scott became a prominent figure in Oregon, serving in the Territorial Legislature and at the third   Constitutional Convention resulting in Oregon Statehood.  He also established the town of Scottsburg on the Umpqua River.

Scott died at 93 in 1890.  His reminisces were published for the first time in 2015.  

Source: Source: Scott, Levi and James Layton Collins. “Wagons to the Willamette: Captain Levi Scott and the Southern Route to Oregon 1844-1847.” Edited by Stafford J. Hazalett. WSU Press, Pullman, Wash. 2015. 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.