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As It Was: Wagon Road Offers Early Approach to Crater Lake

Dead Indian Memorial Road that leads over the mountains east of Ashland, Ore., got its start as a wagon road in the late 1850s that later connected with roads leading to the Fort Klamath military outpost. Today, it’s a well maintained, paved county route that avoids the long drive to White City for motorists headed from Ashland to the Lake of the Woods or Klamath Falls.

In the late 1800s, tourists arrived by train in Ashland, hired wagons over Dead Indian Memorial Road toward Mount Mazama, where they hiked to a Crater Lake viewpoint.  The Oregon Encyclopedia says that both the famed naturalist John Muir and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, took that route.

New, straighter roads from Medford reduced traffic on Dead Indian Memorial Road for much of the 20th century, although trucks used the road to deliver logs to mills on both sides of the mountains.

By linking with Clover Creek Road to Keno, the present-day Dead Indian Memorial Road is a few minutes faster with fewer sharp curves than Green Springs State Route 66 for travel between Ashland and Klamath Falls. 


Staley, Ann. "Dead Indian Memorial Road." Oregon Encyclopedia, Portland State University and Southern Oregon Historical Society, 17 Mar. 2018, https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/dead_indian_memorial_road/. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

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.