Here is the way used to travel from
Longview to Toledo 1
Map from the Oregon-California Trails Association. 2
From The Morning Olympian - February 22,
The Cowlitz Trail was the overland road north of the Cowlitz River. It
was one of two Oregon Trail extensions to the Puget Sound region of
Washington Territory. The other being the Naches Pass route across the
Cascade Mountains from Fort Walla Walla.
After five months of travel on the Oregon Trail emigrants arrived in
the Willamette Valley in the late fall. For those who did not
“winter-over” near Fort Vancouver, fall and winter rains made overland
travel north to Puget Sound difficult and exhausting. Steep hills were
few but lowlands became quagmires of axle deep mud.
Most emigrants did not record accounts of travel on the overland
segment, but those who did had few words of joy about the final sixty
miles of their journey.
To the HBC fur-traders the overland route was
known as the “Cowlitz Portage” or the “Road from Cowlitz Farms to
Nisqually“. To the American settlers it was called the “Road from
to Olympia” according to early GLO naps. To satisfy the demands for
improved roads in the developing territory the U.S. Army oversaw the
construction of the “Fort Vancouver to Steilacoom Military Road“.
As the pioneers traveled north they not only passed through virgin
forests, but crossed open prairies that provided a reference for their
Today most of the land is developed to one degree or another; either as
agricultural land or for residential purposes. While the deep forests
have given way to society, several segments of the trail have been
identified on private property as well as at the Lewis and Clark State
Park north of Toledo. That historic trail was first marked by Ezra
Meeker in 1906 and later by the Daughters of the American Revolution in
The Military Road
Fort Vancouver through Olympia to Seattle is completed in
military road is completed from Fort Vancouver to Seattle. It
passes through Olympia, Fort Nisqually, Fort Steilacoom, and Fort
Puyallup. The Reverend Daniel Bagley and family are the first to travel
the road to Seattle.
authorized the road in 1853.
Myra L. Phelps, Public
Seattle: a Narrative History, the Engineering Department,
Dept., 1978), 98. By Greg Lange, November 03, 1998
Taken from the
monument at 5 Mile Lake County Park...
Centennial Commemorating Old Military Road
Motivated by the desire
to open up the Puget Sound country, King County's oldest road was first
proposed in 1852 by territorial legislator Arthur A. Denny. The
U.S. governement established this land route out of the need to connect
Fort Steilecoom to Fort Bellingham and to provide military protection
to the settlers. Unfortunately delays in funding this section
meant that no road existed through here during the Indian Wars of
1855-1856. Spurred to action by the tragic events of that
period, Congress appropriated $35,000 in 1857. Construction began
in 1858 under the Lt. G.H. Mendell and the road was complete to Seattle
in October, 1860.
Dedicated June 14, 1989
The road was completed after
the 4 bridges were completed near Marysville. 3
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