featured photo by Talia Galvin
Journey Through Time on Highway 97
I was halfway to the North Pole on Highway 97 before I reached Shaniko, the ghost town in northern Central Oregon. A sign read: “45th Parallel. Halfway Between The Equator And The North Pole.” Also known as the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway, this road is the passage for the journey from the all-but-abandoned Shaniko north to Biggs, at the intersection of Highway 97 and I-84.
This is a land of wide open spaces, where dryland wheat farming has taken hold. Residents along this route are mostly growers who depend upon the whims of nature to determine crop viability. Though the climate is dry, farmers have worked with what nature provides and wheat has been a staple of the economy here for generations.
On a clear day, driving through this rolling outback lets you take in views that stretch to the eastern slopes of the Cascades and across wavy mounds of rich soil atop volcanic Columbia basalts—the legacy of eruptive forces at work well before the last ice age. On a rare rainy day, it’s harder to see the broad expanse but easy to see how the occasional sprinkling helps bring the crops to fruition.
THIS IS “REAL” OREGON, but maybe not the one you’ve heard much about. The entire length of Highway 140 stretches 237 miles from just north of Medford, heading east through the Cascades, dodging south around Upper Klamath Lake, finally pointing southeast into Nevada.
photo by Susanna Risser
Highway 46 to the Oregon Caves
I SET OUT WITH VISIONS OF GOLD dancing in my head. Found some, too. Well, actually, Tom Kitchar found some. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Read More.
Bridge to Bridge
Highway 43, West Linn to Portland
THE SOUTHEASTERN PORTAL to Highway 43 begins not so much at a place perhaps but at a time in the past. The other end of the highway lies in the world of tomorrow.
In the 1840s, Dr. John McLaughlin—known as the “Father of Oregon”—built a homestead at the end of what was the Oregon Trail, in Oregon City. Today the site marks the eastern foot of Conde McCullough’s Oregon City-West Linn Arch Bridge, spanning the Willamette River. On the other side, West Linn is the southern portal to today’s Highway 43, also known as Pacific Highway. >>Read More
Three Capes Scenic Drive
Cape Kiwanda – Cape Lookout – Cape Meares
How Oregonian are you? Willing to brave gale-force winds and hard-driving rain to visit the Coast? Willing to spend a night with hearty people who are accustomed to coastal flooding? Ok with drives through murky woods?
Sometimes that’s what you get here. Despite these hardships, the elements of nature on the Oregon Coast create quite the impressionism painting. On this tour, lashing rain came down in sheets and the wind propelled the drops like hail. There were many places to visit but few to clearly see in the rain. Read on>>
The Fruit Loop
There’s something almost magical about this drive. Oregon Highway 35 offers an escape from urban noise and congestion, into the colorful and fruited hills of Hood River Valley. Here, east of Mt. Hood, Oregon’s crowning peak, savor sweeping views and Mother Nature’s bounty. Green apples, purple pears and red cherries ripen—depending upon the season.
Evergreen trees dot the landscape beneath a blue sky and white mountaintop, all coming together in a kaleidoscope of color. If there were ever a Shire or Hobbiton in Oregon, surely it would be along Highway 35, under the gaze of the north face of Mt. Hood. Read on>>
Bridging two lands on the Wapinitia
I got up with the sun and on the road with coffee in hand. Destination—Grass Valley, a beautiful little mark on the map that serves as the eastern portal through wheat country, timberland and into Oregon folklore.
There’s no highway in Oregon that takes you closer to the famed Barlow Road of pioneer days than this one, and its trail of folklore doesn’t stop there. This is a highway that bridges time. From tall timberlands in the west to amber waves of grain in the east, this highway can take you on a jaunt between two worlds. Read on>>
An architectural journey up the Amtrak Cascades line
All the things I’ve missed by driving this route are now gliding by in new context. There are loading docks for staging wheat, stone and lumber bound for Japan by way of the Port of Portland. There are stacked pallets, the underpinnings of economic growth. There are long-necked conveyor belts drawing grains from trucks and depositing them up and into railcars, like brontosauruses that modernity forgot. >> Read on
Parson Red Heads
Oregon Wind Ensemble