Bad Ride at Barlow Road

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Bad Ride at Barlow Road

Barlow Road ghost

Rhododendron Village is a tiny, unincorporated community in Clackamas County Oregon.  The village makes up the Villages at Mount Hood.  Named after the mass amounts of Rhododendron bushes found in the area, the village began as a summer resort colony, stemming from a history as an old logging camp.  Thankfully, due to the popularity and availability of skiing in the area, tourists have necessitated making the village available year round.  While the imagery painted of a summer resort colony is one filled with families and fun, the history of the area is not so fond for families past.

(images:tysasi/flickr) Mount Hood and Barlow Road

(images:tysasi/flickr) Mount Hood and Barlow Road

In the early 1800s, the village served as a camping site for pioneers on the Oregon Trail.  A famous part of American history, the Oregon Trail was a two thousand mile wagon route used by emigrants spanning east to west across the United States.  Over four hundred thousand settlers, miners, ranchers, business owners, and families trekked across the treacherous and grueling trails to find their stake of the American Dream, laying claim to the thoughts of gold and land.

The area now known as Rhododendron Village made up one of the most dangerous parts of the Oregon Trail, then known as Barlow Road.  Barlow Road served as an overland route for Oregon Trail emigrants.  In order to pass down Lauren Hill, travelers paid five dollars, a great sum at the time, in order to pass down the hill.  Lauren Hill on Barlow Road was so steep that wagons had to be lowered down with block and tackle.  The casualties were great but alternatives were small.  Emigrants could either pass through Barlow Road or alternatively, they could pay everything they had to take a ferry  or make an attempt to caulk their wagons and float down the Columbia River.

No option was great and many times wagons were sent hurtling down Lauren Hill, taking great hits until being destroyed upon reaching the bottom.  Many times the block and tackle was poorly fastened or just gave way under the enormous pressure.  Unfortunately, many times families were sent hurtling down the hill with their wagons.  Those lucky enough to survive the great feat rested at the bottom of the hill for many days, attempting to gather supplies and recover.  Many families spent that time in mourning over the great losses of both humans and livestock.

(images:cocoabeachjoe/flickr)

(images:cocoabeachjoe/flickr)

Although the Oregon Trail and days as a logging camp are long past, people report seeing lights and orbs, especially in photographs later reviewed.  One of the most alarming accounts includes a photo of a great piano.  Photos have been seen to show a woman in the mirror, playing the piano, despite not being seen at the time the photo was taken.  Others report hearing unexplainable sounds and witnessing doors opening and slamming shut on their own.

One explanation given for the events was due to a discovery during the restoration process.  Wanting to give visitors a more accurate look of what life would have been like in historical days, crews worked to dig the area and restore buildings and fixtures.  During one project in 2001, volunteers unearthed two graves, covered by rocks.  One was a pioneer and the other a Native American.  While taking photos to show their team, they noted the familiar orbs hovering the photos, over the graves they had uncovered.

Reports of seeing residents, dressed in clothing of past times suggests Rhododendron Village is still haunted by its past residents.  They are often seen walking amongst the village and in nearby forests.  Buildings are reported to shake as if affected by giant footsteps, even while residents report being alone.  Although the Oregon Trail and days of logging camps are long passed, many visitors and villagers still report strange occurrences in Rhododendron Village.  It seems changing the name and purpose as a family resort are not enough to erase the history of the past.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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