The Dalles To Canyon City Wagon Road

The Dalles To Canyon City Wagon Road

In “downtown” Antelope Oregon is this sign.

The Dalles to Canon City Wagon Road

“The discovery of gold at Canyon Creek on June 8, 1862, brought a rush of people and supplies into the upper John Day basin. Within a year, nearly 10,000 fortune hunters trekked to the gold fields from the nearest access and supply point – The Dalles – over a series of trails that became The Dalles to Canyon City Wagon Road.”

Much of the wagon road north of Antelope is now Highway 97/Sherman Highway. If you look closely in the hills on the south side of Shaniko you’ll see the cuts made by diverging paths of the original wagon road and stage coach roads. South of Antelope this road becomes State Highway 218. From there I’m not able to find the exact route, but would guess that it likely follows The John Day highway through the John Day Fossil Beds before ending at Canyon City.

Much of this road was an already existing road, as The Dalles Military Road linking The Dalles and Fort Boise, which was completed in 1869. The history of that road is interesting in itself, consisting of lawsuits and multiple delays.

4 Responses to “The Dalles To Canyon City Wagon Road

  • Rick, I am very interested in more specific information on current & visible road ruts for the road from Canyon City to The Dalles. I have both books on old roads in Eastern and Central Oregon but they are stored somewhere!! Can you give me directions to a place near Shaniko from which I can take pictures of ruts in winter? Thanks, Mike

    • Thank you for checking out the site Michael!

      I do not know about ruts specifically. BUT, if you go south of Shaniko to the curves before Antelope you can easily see the old wagon road(s) cut into the hill. In fact they’re visible from Google’s Satellite maps and you can fairly easily trace the old route. It looks like it has been washed out in a few places, but that is where I’d start looking.

      • Yes, I have seen the ones you refer to. I have both of Lawrence Nielson’s great books on E and Cen Oregon wagon roads (if I can just find the right box)….so I will try and get out there in January. I need winter shots. Thanks for getting back to me!! Happy Holidays….!!

  • Rick, to find the ruts elsewhere check out the BLM website that has the old GLO maps (the precursor to the BLM). They have them online, and you can see the road marked on the old surveyor’s maps. I found them on the old Big Muddy Ranch (with permission) and elsewhere south of John Day, etc.

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