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Take a Stroll Down the Oregon Trail Toll Road

Discover why everything in Clackamas County is named after the old Barlow route.

Highway 26 is lined with references to Barlow Road throughout Clackamas County—everything from a mobile home park to a veterinary clinic and even an old-timey log cabin saloon bear its name. But to discover the significance of this route, you’ll need to visit the Sandy Historical Society Museum (39345 Pioneer Blvd., 503-668-3378, sandyhistory.com), a two-story time capsule that tells the city’s origin story. Before Sam Barlow led his wagon train through Mount Hood’s foothills in 1845 in search of an alternative path westward along the Oregon Trail, pioneers had to wait in The Dalles for barge operators to float their belongings down the Columbia River, essentially turning the place into a busier, smellier version of Penn Station. Fortunately, Barlow successfully blazed a new trail that became a toll road for emigrants—a section of which bisects Sandy. The museum has life-size, immersive exhibits of what the stretch used to look like, along with tributes to the town’s timber industry, including a donkey engine diorama, every type of ax head and saw you can imagine, and a chart of the era’s slang (cougar milk, donkey puncher) that’ll help you talk like a logger. And if you want to pretend you’re Indiana Jones, inspect the historical society’s hunk of hemlock carved with the words “Crawford’s Camp.” Dated 1808, it’s the oldest artifact in the collection, and despite years of research, it still remains a mystery.