This cyanotype from the Dewitt family album shows the old road up and over Mitchell Point before he construction of the tunnel of the Columbia River Highway. This image is circa 1912. It's hard to believe, but this was the only land route in those days, and early automobiles sometimes ventured out this way.
Doesn't surprise me, as Daisy Dewitt was quite a horseman. She was a good friend of Mary Sydney, who resided up Fir Mountain Road approximately 4 to 5 miles from the Pine Grove School. She would ride clear from town to the Sydney Ranch up there to ride with Mary and visit. I would assume that when she made these treks that she would remain a couple of days and they would have great riding adventures together. Mary was a very accomplished rider herself and had a number of very high quality horses. She had grown up in a wealthy Philadelphia family and had quite a stable. Supposedly that is where she met her future husband, as he worked as a trainer or something in that stable. I know that the family was NOT impressed with their relationship and that is why they basically took off. How and why they ended up in Hood River is a mystery I have not been able to solve.
I know I would not wish to be riding in a vehicle along this road. This might have been what they called "the convict road" that was built by prisoners, I suppose from Salem. I know a portion of this road can still be seen at Shell Rock, way up high, but you have to know where to look and most certainly at the speed of traffic this day in age you might be wise if you wished to try and locate portions, pull over and stop.
Charlott on 1st October 2015 @ 7:09am
The convict road is at Shell Rock, pictures are available.
Portions of the road pictured here are in the saddle between Mitchell Point and Little Mitchell, there are remains of an old car at the summit. At one time a Hood River lady (name I believe was Ruth Guppy) had a picture taken of her with others in the car when it was intact but abandoned. Old power poles in this picture remain on Little Mitchell as well as footings for an airmail beacon.
Kenn on 1st October 2015 @ 8:02am
This is interesting!
So... before the railroad, if you wanted to haul a wagon load of apples or strawberries down river to Cascade Locks you would have taken this route?
L.E. on 1st October 2015 @ 12:24pm
Can we tell which side of Mitchell Point that we are looking at?
Bill Seaton on 1st October 2015 @ 2:30pm
Before 1883 most commerce moved by riverboat. These land routes might have been used for very local transportation but east/west movement was on the river.
Arthur on 1st October 2015 @ 3:15pm
Kenn is probably correct on this being the road over the shoulder between Little Mitchell and upper Mitchell point. Parts of this road appear to have been wiped out by landslides and other parts by dozer cuts when later power lines were put in. The parts of the road that remain are quite beautiful. There are also remains of old trails over the saddle that likely pre-date the roads.
Longshot on 1st October 2015 @ 5:27pm
Bill, they are traveling uphill westbound just east of the saddle or summit.. Behind them down toward the Galligan house there is about 200' excavated out , going down the west side there is also about 200' missing. This is part of the 1850's military road between the Sandy River and Ft The Dalles. This grade and the ones on Shell Rock, Tooth Rock and Latourelle are even grades where most wagon roads looked like a wet noodle across the landscape.
Kenn on 1st October 2015 @ 5:39pm
From the July 2, 1948 HR News, Warren Miller says:
Before the Mitchell point tunnel was constructed, he recalls, the road over the top was so narrow that only one vehicle could navigate the pass at a time. A man at a telephone at the top sent messages to the travelers on either side, telling them when to proceed over the difficult ascent. In fact, he had a bad job himself for a time.
L.E. on 24th July 2017 @ 5:58pm
You may already know about this, but I just found it on another Oregon History site. Very interesting historically with many great photos of Mitchell point in the early 1900s. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/About/Documents/Elliot1914.pdf
Susan Turner on 4th February 2018 @ 8:41am
Thanks for the link Susan. Great information.
L.E. on 4th February 2018 @ 4:39pm