Douglas County Delays Pacific Highway Decision

Jul 21, 2014

 Highway planners had settled before 1914 on regional routes for the Pacific Highway, later known as U.S. Highway 99, from Portland to Eugene, Ore., and north from the California border through Jackson County. But Douglas County officials had refused to allocate the $15,000 it would take to survey the best route through their county.

Residents were becoming alarmed that the highway would follow the proposed new railroad route that would cross the mountains to east of the Cascades, missing Douglas County altogether.  Three possibilities were put forward. One suggested highway would follow the railroad 95 miles up Cow Creek and continue south through Glendale and continue over Sexton Mountain to Medford. Another proposed a 78-mile, water-level grade up the South Umpqua River to Tiller and follow a gentle grade to Trail and down the Rogue River to Medford and south. The third, shorter by only two miles, was to follow the stage road up Canyon Creek to Glendale and then south, a notoriously treacherous route since Applegate Trail days with steep, narrow grades. By October 1914 the route for the Pacific Highway was chosen--straight up Canyon Creek where Interstate 5 runs today. 

 Sources: "Road Location Main Question." Riddle Tribune Feb. 1914: 1. "Easier Grades." Ibid.  19 Mar. 1914: 1. "Surveyors on Canyon Road." Ibid. 27 Oct. 1914: 1.