Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society
HIGHWAYS: 1913 - 2007
ASSESSMENT Of PROPOSED PIONEER
IV.F.7.f) Highways: 1913 - 2007
This highway section addresses the Applegate Trail as the evolving highway system associated with the land of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision.
The transportation system in the vicinity of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision started with Indian Trails and evolved into a sophisticated interstate highway system. There were several land transportation systems before and after the official Pacific Highway (1913 - 1926) in southwestern Oregon: from Indian trails to pioneer trails and wagon roads following water courses and open area, and during the auto age from dirt and granite roads to macadam and narrow paved roads, two-lane paved roads, and finally the large four lane Interstate 5 (I-5) freeway (see draft document entitled, Auto Camps In Northern Josephine County: 1910 - 2001. Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society. March 7, 2002. Hugo, Oregon).
(1) Native Americans
Human occupation of the Rogue Valley is known to have begun at least 9,000 years ago. Prehistoric sites are found at all elevations and in a variety of ecological settings. American Indian habitation focused along the fish-rich rivers and their tributaries, with winter villages located along these streams. One such site at the Rogue River Ranch spans the last 7,000 years and is the oldest dated prehistoric site in southwestern Oregon.1A
The first human transportation system in Oregon was comprised of Indian trails, trails following water courses, and eventually rough-hewn roads carved out by exploring pioneer families. An 1856 Indian trail is located on an early Surveyors General Office map. The trail is generally located north of Bummer Creek and Quartz Creek from the Sexton Mountain pass to the Rogue River.1B
(2) Applegate Trail: 1846 - 1913
The Applegate Trail, as the main north-south route through Josephine County, remained stable for over 60 years on the land of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision from 1856 through c.a. 1900 - 1913 (Map 4; Map 5; Map 6; Map 8; Aerial Photo 2). Parts of the Applegate Trail in the Hugo region began as pack trails of the Hudson Bay trappers who came to the region in the 1820s.
(3) Trails And Wagon Roads Before Railroad: 1841 - 1883
(a) Provincial Government/Territorial Government: 1841 - 1859
1841 - 1849 Trails followed the line of least resistance during the time the land now known as Oregon was under a provincial government between 1841 to 1849.
1849 - 1859 Under the 1849 - 1859 territorial government landowners built local ways adjacent to their holdings in the main, farm-to-market roads established to give farmers access by horse and wagon to trading centers and rail points. Settlement began in the Rogue Valley in 1851 with the discovery of gold near what is now the settlement of Galice.
1856 There were two wagon roads in northern Josephine County in 1856 (Map 4; Map 5). The main road was the "Road from Willamette Valley to Jacksonville." Map 6. Another major road which branched south from the Widow Nidays home was known as the "Road to Illinois Valley via Van Noys Ferry."1B The Jacksonville Road was the one used to move tombstones from the tombstone quarry (1880s - 1929) and the one used by settlers of the land today known as the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision (Davis Military Warrent and Cochrane Ranch).
Some local trails carried a light surface of gravel or rock. But most were dirt and granite roads and were generally impassable during the winter months.
Early freighters bringing goods into the southern Oregon mining centers of Jacksonville and Galice Creek in the 1850's depended on mule trains to carry freight over the crude mountain trails from Crescent City.2
(b) Trails And Wagon Roads in New State of Oregon: 1859 - 1883
1859 When Oregon became a state in 1859, the Legislature established a system of county road districts.
1860 In Oregon the route of the Pacific Highway would generally follow the path established by the California Stage Company for their line between Sacramento and Portland in 1860 (Map 4; Map 5; Map 6; Aerial Photo 2).
Early accommodations available to travelers were from pioneer families or later, by 1860 from hostelries along main stage routes.
For some 20 years following construction of the first road, most of southern Oregon was supplied by freight hauled from Crescent City, where it had been shipped from San Francisco. Six heavy horses were required to pull the great freight wagons with their trailers. Merchants at Kerbyville sometimes sent wagons as far as Redding for freight during the summer season when roads were passable. This was too expensive for general practice.2
(4) Wagon Roads And Southern Pacific Railroad: 1883
1883 The Grave Creek Tunnel, better known in later years as Tunnel #9, was completed July 4, 1883. The tunnel measured 2,112 feet in length. During this time many trestles were being built in the Grave Creek area, as well as roadbeds being graded. One thousand five hundred men were reported in May of 1882 as grading between Wolf Creek and Grave Creek Tunnel with Camp #9 designated as the Grave Creek Camp.
The first through train from Portland rolled into Grants Pass amid a great celebration on Christmas Eve, 1883. From then on the railroad played a major role in the development of Hugo and Grants Pass.
After the railroad was built Grants Pass became the freight center for the surrounding territory, and the heavy wagons lumbered in from the surrounding towns for regular trips, hauling winter stocks of goods to the stores against the season when the roads would be belly-deep with mud and impassable except for light wagons and stage coaches. In those days it was a three-day trip from Kerby to Grants Pass and return in the winter season. Drivers with a "light rig" and four horses, leaving Kerby in the early morning would consider themselves lucky to be loaded and back as far as Wilderville for the second night of the journey. The roads of course were build with the least possible effort, winding around brush and trees, over hills, and fording creeks. Stage coaches would drive almost straight over Hayes hill southwest of Grants Pass, and the passengers were politely requested to get out and walk to the top of the hill, perhaps boosting the coach up the grade as well.2
1894 A note in the newspaper declared "A car load of Bain wagons, Columbus buggies, road cats, Deering mowers and binds, Tiger hay rakes, Oliver plows and Ball Center disc harrows are now ready for delivery at Cramer Bros." (May 30, 1894).
1895 The main north-south road depicted on the 1895 Official Map of Josephine County, Oregon is a near match for the 1856 Applegate Trails location on the land of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision (Map 6; Map 7; Map 8; Aerial Photograph 2).3B
(5) First Auto in Josephine County - 1904
1904 John H. Williams was to have the distinction of owning the first automobile in Grants Pass. He ordered the machine from a San Francisco firm and had it shipped by steamer to Crescent City. While making the trip to the coast to pick up his car, huge boulders in the road and a generous supply of hub deep ruts indicated his only recourse was to hire a freight wagon to haul the car to Grants Pass.4
(6) New Traffic In Josephine County: 1905 - 1913
The automobile changed life everywhere, even in rural Hugo, Oregon, at first for the rich and later for everyone. The number of cars increased in the Pacific Northwest after 1905 and many owners outfitted their vehicles with camping equipment.
1907 Arriving in Grants Pass, July 3, 1901, Dr. Walker rented a temporary office on the second floor of the old City Hall building on Sixth Street. Six years after arriving in Grants Pass, he was counted among the envied few who had purchased a new automobile. He bought a "Winton" from agent Dennis Stovall.4
1907 The "Honk, Honk" of six big automobiles as they scurried through the streets all day and even far into the night, gave Grants Pass a very citified appearance Tuesday. The occasion was a "Free Trip Around the World" gotten up by the enterprising W. B. Sherman Realty company, and at four different places receptions were extended to the guests (October 18, 1907).
1908 Henry Fords Model T greeted the masses in 1908 and revolutionized American society. With its introduction automobiles in America became available to most everyone, not just the well-to-do. It gave the people the freedom to roam and had a major role in developing mountain tourism in southwestern Oregon. The "Tin Lizzie," with its four-cylinder motor, magneto ignition, and planetary transmission, was a technically advanced automobile efficiently build at a price affordable to the masses. It, along with the soon to be developed Pacific Highway, made scenic Oregon and the Rogue River with its famous salmon fishing accessible to sportsmen of the world.
Magically feeding on each other, the Lizzie and the Pacific Highway jointly came on-line full steam in the late 1910s and early 1920s.
1909 As reported by the Rogue River Courier, Personal & Local, July 2, 1909: "Mrs. Caroline Sexton, of Hugo, is the guest of Sheriff Russells family this week. Mrs. Sexton is one of the oldest "Indian fighters" in Josephine county, she being 81 years old, and in the early days had her home burned three different times by the redskins. Wednesday, Mrs. Sarah York, mother-in-law of Sheriff Russell, and Mrs. Sexton took their first automobile ride, Cap. Verdin taking the two old ladies for a long ride in the country."5
1910 During the summer of 1910, the city owned steam roller and gravel wagons prepared a macadamized roadbed for south Sixth Street in Grants Pass, Oregon.4
(7) Pacific Highway In Josephine County, Oregon: 1913 - 1926
1913 With the slogan, "Get Oregon Out of the Mud," the 1913 Oregon Legislature established the Oregon Highway Department. At the time the state had almost no paved roads. In 1914 the Oregon Highway Commission adopted a general highway map which included a trunk identified as the Pacific Highway from Portland to Ashland and the California border.
The Pacific Highway would become a major 1,500 mile north-south transportation route constructed with the advent of automobile travel in the West. Its termini between Vancouver and San Diego covered 16 degrees of latitude and quite a variety of climate and cultures. In Oregon the route of the Pacific Highway generally followed the path established by the California Stage Company for their line between Sacramento and Portland in 1860.
The automobile era of the early twentieth century created the freewheeling roadside camping automobile "gypsy" with no particular schedule or destination (within the confines of the two week vacation from work). Early in the century private associations promoted their visions of a host of transcontinental named highways, like the Pacific Highway, a name, not a number. Numbered highways would come later.
The first annual report of the Oregon State Highway Department was optimistic. The law creating an Oregon State Highway Commission was passed at the 1913 session of the Oregon Legislature. A system of state or trunk roads was adopted and a start, in a small way, made toward the construction of this system. The rate at which these trunk roads would be built and become of use to the public was only a question of how fast the money was made available.6
1913 - 1914 The advantages or benefits enjoyed by a community which is blessed with good roads was identified in the first annual report of the Oregon State Highway Commission.7
1914 It was not necessary, as it was four to eight year prior to 1914, to argue that the motor vehicle had come to stay, and that roads must be designed to stand this new and severe traffic. The water bound macadam was the best surfacing in use on public highways in 1904.
It was found that in some districts in Oregon several kinds of decomposed rock were found which make a satisfactory surface for light traffic roads. In parts of Southern Oregon a decomposed granite was found and was used with satisfactory results on many miles of highway.8
In 1914 Josephine County had the following types and miles of road, number and types of bridges, rock quarries, and number and types of road equipment.8
That same year the Oregon State Highway Commission adopted a general highway map that had several trunks, but generally speaking didnt like the system it had.3 One of the trunks that would become famous was the Pacific Highway.
1915 Josephine Countys automobiles numbered 266 in 1915. There was one car for every 34 persons.
1916 The 1916 State Highway Commission budget for Josephine County was an appropriation of $5,000 to be expended for the elimination of the bad grade on the divide between Josephine and Douglas counties.
Oregon had no paved sections of roads outside of Multnomah, Clatsop, and Jackson counties. Gravel roads were rough and narrow, and there was no continuity in roadways from county to county. More often than not, county lines featured impassable gaps in the road system.
1917 The unusual conditions caused by World War I made it exceedingly hard to maintain engineering and construction organizations, especially where the state had highway work in outlying districts.10
Certain state highways were determined to be highways of first importance to the general public of the State of Oregon. It was determined that they, including the Pacific Highway, should be permanently constructed and finished with a hard surface.11
1918 - 1920 Through the early part of 1920 there had been no paving or macadamizing of the Pacific Highway in Josephine County, and but 11 miles had been graded.12
The work of the biennium was begun under good auspices. The continuation of the improvement of the state highway system, interrupted by the war, was made possible by the return of the service men, the release of men from the war industries, the availability of equipment, and the removal of embargoes on road building materials, a more adequate supply of railroad cars and the removal of financial restriction relating to the sale of bonds.13
For state highways the standard bituminous construction consisted of a gravel or crushed rock macadam subbase, 3-inch bituminous base, and 2-inch bitulithic wearing surface. Standard concrete construction was from six to seven inches thick, the thickness depending upon the traffic to be carried and the character of the subgrade. The standard pavement section was 16 feet wide with extra width on curves and super-elevation. Two-foot shoulders of crushed rock or gravel was constructed on all pavements. It was necessary that all new grades be allowed to settle and be open for travel for a least one year and preferably longer before paving to secure the best results, which explained why some gaps in the main highways had been left unpaved.14
By the end of 1920 the Pacific Highway had been constructed throughout its entire length with a few small exceptions, and all graded portions either macadamized or paved, making possible through travel throughout the entire year.15
There was a change in how the remote mountains of Oregon were perceived. Instead of being viewed as obstructions that stood in the way of their ultimate destinations, say to a fishing stream, travelers now saw isolated mountain areas as escapes from their urban surroundings. Nature, therefore, became a diversion from everyday life that provided an uplifting experience.
(8) Pacific Highway Paved in Northern Josephine County, Oregon: 1920 - 1921
1919 - 1920. Josephine County. For contract purposes the Oregon State Highway Commission separated the Pacific Highway into work sections. There were four work sections in northern Josephine County from Wolf Creek to Grants Pass with overlap between the Sexton Mountain section and the Sexton Mountain to Pleasant Valley section. The Pleasant Valley - Grants Pass Section covers this resource assessment section of interest from the Pleasant Valley Cemetery to the Josephine County Sportsman Park.
During 1919 - 1920 the Sexton Mountain section was graded and being macadamized. The Pleasant Valley - Grants Pass section was placed under contract for grading and macadamizing. Merlin Hill was graded and the heaviest grades in the Pleasant Valley - Grants Pass had been cut. These contracts would be completed in the spring and they would give the Pacific Highway a surfacing of pavement or macadam throughout its entire length across Josephine County, whereas two years ago, but one-third of this highway had been graded.16
1919 - 1920. Grants Pass-Pleasant Valley Macadam. The new alignment bypassed the old east-west Applegate Trail from the Sportsman Park to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, including the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision, with what would become the present day Monument Drive (Map 8; Map 10).
1921 - 1922. Josephine County. By early 1922 the grading and surfacing of the Pacific Highway north of Grants Pass had been completed and the sections had been placed under contract for paving. All the paving contracts had been completed, except for approximately 2.5 miles between Pleasant Valley and Grants Pass. With the exception of this one gap, the Pacific Highway was paved throughout Josephine County from the Douglas County line to the Jackson County line, a total of 34.7 miles.18
1921 - 1922. Pleasant Valley-Grants Pass Paving.
1921 - 1922. Grants Pass-Pleasant Valley Grading And Surfacing. The grading required was completed during the early spring of 1921, and the surface completed August 20 of the same year.20
1922 Marshal Joffre, speaking at the dedication of the Pacific highway at the inter-state bridge, today, said: "Roads are the strongest, most helpful agents of civilization, bringing prosperity, commerce and happiness. The road which is the object of todays ceremonies is the longest highway in the world, and I am happy to say that the road is now formally opened."21
With the exception of small gaps the Pacific Highway, 345 miles in length, was paved or under contract for paving from the Columbia River to the California State Line. The completion of this highway gave Oregon the distinction of being the first state west of the Mississippi to have a paved highway the entire length of the state.22
1923 The rapid gain in the registration of motor vehicles in the State, increasing from 48,632 in 1917 to approximately 193,000 in 1924, together with the great increase in tourist traffic, has added to the maintenance problem in the same proportion. Road surfaces which have carried light traffic well, rapidly disintegrate and wear out under the greatly increased traffic burden put upon them.23
1923 - 1924. Grants Pass By early 1924 all contracts of Grants Pass have been finished up and the Pacific Highway was paved throughout the county, a distance of 34.6 miles.24
1923 - 1924. Sextons To Grants Pass. On the Pacific Highway, from the Sextons to Grants Pass there was 9.8 miles of paving, type "D" 16-foot wide; 3-inch bituminous base, and a 2-inch wearing surface. This section was finally completed March 24, 1923.24
1923 - 1924. Jumpoff Joe Creek Bridge. On the Pacific Highway one 50-foot concrete span was completed over Jumpoff Joe Creek. Contract No. 645, awarded March 27, 1923 to Ryan & Catching of Riddle, Oregon. Work commenced May 12, 1923; completed August 31, 1924. Final cost, $12,192.73. Resident Engineer, Stewart Mitchell.25
(9) U. S. Highway 99 In Josephine County, Oregon: 1926 - 1946
1926 When the U.S. Highway System was implemented in 1926, the Pacific Highway #1 was assigned the U.S. Highway 99 designation.
1927 - 1928. Josephine. During the 1927 - 1928 biennium there has been no new construction work on the Pacific Highway within Josephine County as this had all been completed during past years.26
1929 It was not until the 1920s that modern graded and surfaced highways were constructed for automobile travel. The Pacific Highway and the Redwood Highway, connecting Grants Pass to the outside, were surfaced during this time. However, many years were required to bring the system of highways to present modern standard of alignment, grade, width and surface.2
1929 - 1930. Josephine. Oiled macadam on the Redwood Highway, the bridge over the Rogue River at Grants Pass and the widening of the Oregon Caves Highway was the major highway work in the county during 1929 - 1930. Surveys were made for future alignment changes on the Pacific Highway.27
1932 The Applegate Trail in the land of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision was not identified on the 1932 Metsker map (Map 11). However, it was still visible eight years later in a 1940 aerial photograph (Aerial Photo 1)
1934 Three important projects to be completed were the Siskiyou "bottleneck," the crooked highway between the base of Sexton mountain and Canyonville and the Hayes hill sector of the Redwood highway.2
1941 - 1945 World War II was disastrous from the standpoint of developing and maintaining Oregons highways. The highway departments sign shop personnel were busy in 1942 with increased work connected with defense and war activities, including marking evacuation routes through cities, marking "dimout" areas for motorists on the Coast Highway and posting military restricted zones, but little work was actually completed on the road system.3
1946 The transition from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy began in 1946, with Oregon moving from a time of curtailment in road building to one of recovery and finally expansion.
(10) Interstate 5 In Josephine County, Oregon: 1960 - 2007
1956 The interstate program began in August 1956 when Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Program Act. Oregon had 47 miles of the interstate system already completed. U. S. 99 became Interstate 5 (I-5).
1960. Interstate 5 through northern Josephine County was completed in 1960. By September of that same year about 105 miles of the 310-mile I-5 had been completed and opened to traffic.28 Just as the 1920 - 1921 realignment of the Pacific Highway was different from the 1856 - 1895 Applegate Trail location, the 1960 I-5 location design was a realignment different from the 1920 - 1921 Pacific Highway (today know as U.S. Highway 99/Monument Drive). The result is remnants of both the Applegate Trail and the Pacific Highway exist on both sides of I-5.
1966. Oregons Highway Department construction program hit one of its most significant milestones with the completion of the four lane I-5. It marked the first time travelers could enter the state at the Interstate bridge in Portland and head southbound along the high-speed freeway to California without encountering one traffic signal or stop sign. The 308-mile highway was dedicated 1966, in ceremonies at the Cow Creek Safety Rest Area in southern Douglas County.28
The transportation system in the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision started with Indian Trails and evolved from a primitive wagon road (Applegate Trail) into a sophisticated interstate highway system. There were several land transportation systems before and after the first major highway, the Pacific Highway, in southwestern Oregon: from Indian trails to pioneer trails and wagon roads following water courses and open area, and during the auto age from dirt and granite roads to macadam and narrow paved roads, two-lane paved roads, and finally the large four lane I-5 freeway
There were two Applegate Trail wagon roads in northern Josephine County in 1856. The main road was the "Road from Willamette Valley to Jacksonville." The Jacksonville Road of the Applegate Trail remained stable for over 60 years through the land of the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision Site from 1856 through 1913. The Jacksonville Road was the one used to move tombstones from the tombstone quarry (1880s - 1929) to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery and the one used by settlers of the land today known as the Proposed Pioneer Meadow Subdivision (1860s Davis Military Warrant and later Cochrane Ranch).
The 1920s Pacific Highway would generally follow the path established by the California Stage Company for their line between Sacramento and Portland in 1860. This was the 1856 Jacksonville Road of the Applegate Trail in northern Josephine County.
The new 1920 alignment of the macadamized Pacific Highway bypassed the old east-west Applegate Trail in the Pioneer Meadow Subdivision Application from the Sportsman Park to the Pleasant Valley Cemetery with what would become the present day Monument Drive. On the Pacific Highway, from the Sextons to Grants Pass, this paving was finally completed in 1923.
On the Pacific Highway a 50-foot concrete span bridge was completed over Jumpoff Joe Creek in 1924. When the U.S. Highway System was implemented in 1926, the Pacific Highway was assigned the U.S. Highway 99 designation.
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