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The Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road 

Wagon Road is completed over Snoqualmie Pass by October 7, 1867
By Greg Lange, November 04, 1998
HistoryLink.org Essay 174

On October 7, 1867, the Seattle Weekly Intelligencer announces that the first wagon road is completed over Snoqualmie Pass through the Cascade Mountains. The importance of this route was realized as early as 1855, but it was not until 1865 that a group of Seattle men located and surveyed a route for the road. Snoqualmie Pass is located on present-day Interstate 90 in east King County not far from North Bend.

The surveying party consisted of William Perkins, L. V. Wyckoff, Arthur Denny (1822-1899), and John Ross. Seattle residents raised $2,500 for the project and William Perkins and a crew of 20 men was hired to construct a road from Rangers Prairie (the future North Bend) to Snoqualmie Pass. While the road was being constructed during 1865, a train of six wagons made the first traverse of Snoqualmie Pass.

The King County Commissioners and a number of King County citizens wanted to extend the road to Seattle. A road already ran from Seattle to the Black River (near the future site of Renton). King County Commissioners set an election in June 1866 to raise $2,000 to extend the road from Black River to Rangers Prairie. King County passed it overwhelmingly with a vote of 115 for and 4 against.

In June 1867, King County hired Henry Manchester to extend the road at the rate of $130 per mile. The following year, Jeremiah Borst (1830-1890) continued the roadwork. On October 7, 1867, the wagon road was completed from Seattle to Ellensburg. Additional funds were expended to maintain and improve the route so that by 1870 about $15,000 in public funds and $5,000 in private funds had been spent on the road.

The first to take advantage of the wagon road were meat dealers, who conducted many cattle drives through Snoqualmie Pass.

Thomas W. Prosch, "A Chronological History of Seattle From 1850 to 1897," typescript dated 1900-1901, pp. 178-180, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Library, Seattle; Yvonne Prater, Snoqualmie Pass: From Indian Trail to Interstate (Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1981), 29-32; James Oliphant, "Cattle Trade Through Snoqualmie Pass" Pacific Northwest Quarterly Vol. 38 (July 1947), p. 195.


The map above shows the start of the Wagon Road trail.

The map above shows the wagon road in relation to the switch backs.

Road Planking Photos

The start of the one mile hike up the wagon road.

Wagon road on left and the 1915 Sunset Highway on the right


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