Visionary Pushes for Highway from Canada to Mexico

Jul 18, 2014

 Motorists headed from the Rogue Valley to Northern California and beyond owe a debt of gratitude to Sam Hill, who joined around 1910 with Canadian A.E. Todd to form the Pacific Highway Association.  The association advocated for a 1,600-mile, hard-surfaced highway from British Columbia to the Mexican border.

As president of the highway association, Hill traveled widely, giving lectures, testifying in Congress and even building experimental roads on his property in Washington State. Meanwhile, Jackson County purchased the right-of-way over the Siskiyous from Dudley Dollarhide, who operated the Siskiyou Mountain Toll Road, and the county issued $500,000 in bonds for highway construction. Hill turned over the first scoop of dirt on the Oregon side of the Siskiyous in November 1913.  By 1920, a two-lane, paved road had been completed to the California border. The road’s name changed to US99 in 1926 and to Interstate 5 in 1966. The Pacific Highway attracted wide attention.  The New York Times observed in 1921, “In an era of American road-making, … the Pacific Highway, now nearing completion, is an achievement of which the people of California, Oregon and Washington may well be proud.”

  Sources: "The Pacific Highway." New York Times Archive 10 July 1921: 28. Web. 9 June 2014. "Bring on the Pavement." Living Gold Press. Living Gold Press, Web. 9 June 2014.