History Spotlight: Layers of History Tell Many Stories

Layers Of History Tell Many Stories

Salmonberrytrail.org begins a series of history snapshots that highlight how the future Salmonberry Trail can explore and connect the past with the present as it travels through and along the forests, farms and waters of the Oregon Coast Range between the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast. By Doug Decker

The region traversed by the future Salmonberry Trail is rich in layers of history. For centuries before recorded time, this region of the Coast Range was transited by Tillamook, Clatsop and other Native Americans traveling between the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast seeking trade and in search of seasonally abundant salmon populations.

Military engineers and explorers crossed the eastern edge of the trail area while surveying and constructing the first road between the valley and the coast—the Salem-Astoria Military Road—in 1854.

Settlers passed this way between the 1860s and the turn of the last century looking for areas to homestead, but most were thwarted by thick timber, rainfall and steep in accessible country. 

Railroad builders moved in and towns sprang up in the early 1900s. Loggers and sawmills were busy feeding the need for lumber to build a growing state. Railcars moved tons of wood, agricultural products and passengers between Portland and the Coast.

The historic six-year jinx of the Tillamook Burn threatened in 1933 and 1939 and actually started in the Salmonberry Canyon in 1945.

So many layers of history to explore!