Cascade Geographic Society’s
Christmas Along The Barlow Trail
(Sunday) December 2nd, 2012
• “Oregon Trail Christmas Village” •
• “Pioneer Christmas Spirits Along the Oregon Trail” •
• “Christmas Tales From Old Oregon” •
• “Santa Claus” •
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Meeting Place: Oregon Country Settlement (living history village),
73370 East Buggy Trail Lane [behind the Still Creek Inn (formerly the Alpine Hut Restaurant)],
in the Village of Rhododendron on the Western Foothills of Mount Hood
Free Admission! ---- Free Parking!
The year 2012 marks the Cascade Geographic Society’s 28th Annual Christmas Along the Barlow Trail. This is a free festive gathering held on Mount Hood that features the history of the Oregon Trail, where it traversed around Mount Hood’s southern flank. Held on Sunday afternoon several weeks before Christmas, to help kick-off the holiday season before the first fall of snow in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, this is an event that is ideal for the entire family.
For the past 28 years, the Cascade Geographic Society has held their Christmas Along the Barlow Trail to help people remember Samuel Kimbrough Barlow and his party’s attempt to get the first covered wagons over the Cascade Mountain Range. Completely ignorant about the difficult journey upon which they were about to embark, they cut down just enough trees to squeeze their covered wagons through, and traversed an ancient Native American trail that followed a difficult route over Mount Hood’s southern flank. They failed. They were forced to construct a crude log cabin and stash their possessions inside, leave their prairie schooners parked outside, and then either ride their horses or walk out of the mountains all the way to Oregon City on the banks of the Willamette River.
The “Oregon Trail Christmas Village” is the main feature of Christmas Along the Barlow Trail and is a festive Sunday afternoon gathering for adults and children alike. With the addition of the “Christmas Village”, this year’s annual festivity will not be the typical holiday event sponsored by the Cascade Geographic Society in the past. Instead, the tales of the frontiersman and pioneers during this holiday season will merge together with the stories of those who traveled the Oregon Trail.
The emigrants had to cross over the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, and then underwent a life and death struggled as they traveled over the horrible Barlow Trail segment that crossed over Mount Hood’s southern flank. Representatives of these pioneer characters will situate themselves in various buildings of the Village where they will tell their stories.
Another main feature of Christmas Along the Barlow Trail is “Christmas Tales From Old Oregon”, a unique storytelling program that takes you from the days of the Lewis & Clark Expedition at the rainy and cold Pacific Coast in 1805, to the days of the Oregon Trail and pioneer settlement, and concluding on the slopes of Mount Hood around 1906. Storyteller Michael P. Jones will allow the audience to venture back into time, as his tales make this holiday history come alive with these little known tales that seemingly have been forgotten by the passage of time.
There will be free Christmas goodies and hot drinks available for those who attend. And, then, naturally, there will be a delightful visit from Santa Claus, who will brave the inclement weather of Mount Hood’s infamous Oregon Trail, known as the Barlow Trail, and provide a touch of sparkle and magic to the festivities.
For additional information on Christmas Along The Barlow Trail, please contact the Cascade Geographic Society at Post Office Box 398, Rhododendron, Oregon 97049; or, call (503) 622-4798. Also, please take the time to check out our website: cascadegeographicsociety.com for any last minute changes or updates. Or, prior to December 2nd, email us at: email@example.com.
Why do we Celebrate a Barlow Trail Christmas?
Christmas Along The Barlow Trail commemorates the anniversary of the Oregon Trail on Oregon’s Mount Hood. The year 2012 represents the 167th year since 55-year-old Oregon Trail emigrant Samuel Kimbrough Barlow and his party decided to develop an overland alternative to the expensive raft trip down the Columbia River. They attempted to cross this Mountain’s southern flank with their covered wagons over an ancient Native American path and establish an alternative route to the “New Eden” (the Willamette Valley). It is also the 166th anniversary of this pioneer “toll trail” --- since it was never, ever, really a road --- that appeared the following Spring.
From September 15th until Christmas Day, Barlow and his party risked their lives to establish this land route to the Willamette Valley. The weary Oregon Trail overlanders struggled with this seemingly-impossible terrain while being plagued by hunger and physical and mental exhaustion, with the always-present-companions of either rain, snow, or bone-chilling cold escorting them over this rugged section of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Barlow and his party, however, failed to conquer Mount Hood that year. Nearly being trapped by the heavy Winter snows, they had to cache their supplies in a quickly and crudely-fashioned log cabin that they called “Fort Deposit”; they parked their prairie schooners outside, and then they continued the rest of their journey to the New Eden either on horseback if they were lucky to have any alive or well enough to ride, or else on foot. One woman who had literally walked all the way from the Missouri River to this dangerous place in the Cascade Mountains, vowed not to walk another step, and so hopped on the back of her faithful dairy cow and rode her all the way to Oregon City in the Willamette Valley.
By the time the last individual from this first attempted crossing of the Cascade Mountains had reached Oregon City on Christmas Day, the future of Mount Hood had already been established. Barlow had received a charter from the First Provisional Government of Oregon to build the first supposed toll road over the Cascade Mountains, plus $4,500 to accomplish this feat.
When Spring came in 1846, Barlow was already building a toll gate, getting ready for the first Oregon Trail travelers, who would be arriving by September. For $5.00 a wagon they had the privilege of clearing any downed trees, rock slides, and other debris, maneuvering seemingly bottomless swamps and steep grades, fording countless and dangerously-swollen streams, and even having to lower their wagons with ropes down the steep cliffs of the infamous “Big Laurel Hill”. Samuel became the most hated man in the Old Oregon Country, proclaiming that an Indian trail was a toll road, and even having the nerve to charge an outrageous fee “to travel through hell”.
Cascade Geographic Society’s Christmas Along The Barlow Trail is a free festive gathering held on Mount Hood, featuring the history of the Oregon Trail, where it traversed around the Mountain’s southern flank. Held several weeks before Christmas, this is an event for the entire family.
The “Oregon Trail Christmas Village” will be a Sunday after-noon gathering for adults and children alike, featuring historical re-enactors. And, of course, Santa Claus will be there to meet the children of all ages.
One main feature, however, is “Christmas Tales From Old Oregon”, a unique storytelling program that takes you from the days of the Lewis & Clark Expedition at the rainy and cold Pacific Coast in 1805, to the days of the Oregon Trail and pioneer settlement, and concluding on the slopes of Mount Hood around 1906. Storyteller, Michael P. Jones, will take the audience back into time and make history come alive with these little known that has been forgotten by the passage of time.
Another very special contribution to the festivities is “Pioneer Spirits Along the Oregon Trail”. Visitors to the Oregon Country Settlement will be guided through various historic buildings where the spirits from the past will tell their stories pertaining to their struggles to get over the ancient Native American path that crossed over Mount Hood and became known to the emigrants as the Barlow Trail in 1845.
Pioneer Christmas Spirits Along The Oregon Trail
A recent addition to Christmas Along The Barlow Trail will be a unique portrayal of lingering spirits of pioneers who traveled over Mount Hood’s Oregon Trail. Not only that; these are the same emigrants who camped at a collection of lush meadows that now comprise Cascade Geographic Society’s property where the holiday event is held and where several sections of this historic trail passes through.
This portion of the festivities is known as “Pioneer Spirits of the Oregon Trail”, and will take place at the Christmas Village --- the Cascade Geographic Society’s living history village known as the Oregon Country Settlement. Visitors will be guided through three restored, historic, 1880s buildings where they will be introduced to the lingering spirits of emigrants who made the difficult journey over Mount Hood’s rugged Barlow Trail.
Within the glow of the firelight, visitors will learn about the personal history of the individual pioneer, as well as gain an insight into that very difficult section of the Oregon Trail that passed over the southern flank of Mount Hood --- the Barlow Trail --- that served as a cheaper but far more dangerous route into the Willamette Valley than rafting down the Columbia River. Being the Winter holiday season, the spirit of the pioneers will also share how they spent their first Christmas in Oregon.
“Pioneer Spirits of the Oregon Trail” will be entertaining, educational, and fun for the entire family. It should prove to be a great addition to Cascade Geographic Society’s Christmas Along The Barlow Trail.