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As It Was: Historic Marker Locates Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road

Nearly 40 years ago the Southern Oregon Historical Society placed a historic marker on old Hwy 99 commemorating the Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road.

Some six miles east of Ashland, the marker states that the Thomas brothers built the road in 1858-1860.  It became a toll road owned and operated by Lindsay Applegate until 1869, and later by James Thornton and Jesse Dollarhide.

Travelers stopped at the Toll Station, about an eighth of a mile south of the marker, before continuing over the mountains on the dusty, bumpy road.  The State of Oregon bought the road from the Dollarhide family to build the Pacific Highway, later renamed Hwy 99.

In an article for the Oregon Historical Society, historian George Kramer, wrote, “By 1921, Jackson County was one of the first counties along the Pacific Highway offering a continuously paved surface from county line to county line." 

When Highway 99 was replaced by Interstate 5 in 1967, pieces of the old road remained, including the six-mile stretch east of Ashland.  Driving along its narrow, twisting path still gives one the sense of an 1860s stagecoach ride.

Sources:  Dollarhide, William J. "Jesse Dollarhide: A Pioneer Family of Jackson County, Oregon." Dollarhide Family Website, edited by William J. Dollarhide, Dollarhide Family, 19 Jan. 1998, http://www.dollarhide.org/histjesse.htm. Accessed 23 Apr. 2019; "Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road, Jackson County, OR." Waymarking.com, Waymark, www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMKBE4_Siskiyou_Mountain_Wagon_Road_Jackson_County_OR. Accessed 22 Apr. 2019; Edwards, Pat. Oregon's Main Street. Lorane, OR, Groundwaters Publishing, LLC, 2014.  

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.