The Siskiyou Road
The Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road and the Dollarhide Toll Road. For the predecessor trail, see here, here and here. For the Pacific Highway, see here.
After I'd sold all the cattle from the Rogue River Reservation and returned to the Umpqua country, the mill was worth a very large sum, while I also had other considerable interests. So I sold out my share to Father and brothers and started a-horseback to the south to look up a location for cattle raising. The Applegates then were all at Yoncalla.
I went as far south as Yreka, happened to be at Sheep Rock when they had cimarron to eat, and, finding no good location, started back north.
After crossing Siskiyou summit and descending a quarter of a mile or such matter, I came to a camping place where a bark spout led the water of a spring into a half barrel. I went to it to water my horse and then saw a long table in the underbrush, the affair made by forked stakes driven into the ground and cross sticks, laid in the crotches. On those cross sticks were the boards, and that was the table! About fifty men were there eating, and they bade me, 'light, stranger, and have a bite.' I did so by first tying my horse to a brush. As I passed up I said, 'Good things up here?' 'Yes,' replied they, 'proud to have a guest.'
In earlier days an old miner who had never before seen a ship and had gone down to 'Frisco with an immense 'pile,' said to the skipper of a nice vessel, who asked how he liked it, 'I guess I'll buy it.' Hence when anyone on the coast was pleased his expression was almost invariably, 'Guess I'll buy it!' Of course the campers wanted a compliment, for they were discussing the 'toll road' which they were making, many asking 'will it pay?' I remarked, 'Boys, I guess I'll buy it!' Their response was, 'Do so, for we believe our bosses will go broke soon!' Their worst work was nearly done. I was in downright earnest, nevertheless, and when I got back they were ready to sell or burst. I did buy, and after I took possession the man at the toll house planned to squeeze me by asking $1,500 for his interest. Myers had a compass with which I 'located' the quarter upon which stood that identical toll house, and then wrote the Register, who replied that it was U.S. property, which I at once entered with my Dragoon land warrant, got in 1853. The toll man had been abrupt and said, 'You'll come to my terms if you get my house.' After I entered the place I learned that nothing scarcely belonged to him; hence I answered by the words, 'You'll come to my terms if you want to sell.'
As soon as my receipt came I went to him and he wilted. I did pay for the little that was his, and he went. But it was diverting to see the fellow's airs! When I first demurred to his demand he raised to $2,000, and said, 'You'll be glad to take my next offer, for I intend to put up a gate and collect toll!' After I sent off my land warrant I retorted upon him without divulging the situation, 'You'll be glad to take my next offer,' and he was! That spring spoken of above was just about the present north end of 'Siskiyou Tunnel' of the Southern Pacific.
When I was ready to take possession and needed a good steward I heard of a Catholic priest lately relieved at Jacksonville, under orders from the Pope to repair to Australia as soon as he had got the necessary funds. Neither knew how long he should wait, and so I hired him--his principal care being toll collection, and his weight about two hundred and twenty-five. I told him my ancestors were Catholics, which seemed to give him some pleasure. We located the toll tent three-quarters of a mile above the old toll house at the 'Tub Spring.' He did not cook all the time, but delighted in it, and was indeed as good as I'd wish to see. His and my books were there, and so we had abundance of reading matter. The company's mortgage was $45,000, at 5 percent per month! Yes, I assumed it and kept part of their force of laborers. About the time we moved up the mountain the 'California Stage Co.,' which had been using the old trail, began to drive on ours, and soon we had all the travel practically. Our sign was a toll board with all the rates, and "Father Murphy" was collecting most of the time. After in operation about ten days and we were one evening sitting at the tent door with a lamp on the table back in the tent, and the moon shining, we saw what looked like a covered wagon coming up the road; but when it came on nearer Father Murphy said, 'It's a bear; what shall we do?' Said I, 'Keep still.' He raised his eyes to heaven and solemnly crossed himself. The animal came to the tub and took a drink, then looked at the tent, then drank again, lifted up his head and quietly went on his way up the mountain, except the snuffling that a bear always makes when breathing. At 4 o'clock we heard another snuffling and I looked out the crack of the door flap to behold apparently the same huge fellow returning. We were at the tent about three weeks, and that bear performed the same every night! Each time he was watched and failed but two or three times to drink at the tub! Then we trailed him up the mountain in daylight and found where he turned off the road at the summit and went to a clover patch to fill up on the grass, returning to the canyon to sleep. That creature was a monster and must have weighed 2,000! Seven miles of road were in my charter, but Jacksonville and Yreka contributed largely to other parts of the route--they were both liberal places and did beautifully for all public and benevolent purposes. Sir? Yes, we had all varieties of travel; even an Italian stopped and ground out his doleful organ! Peddlers? Plenty of them! The spring did not furnish enough water, and so I set a force at work to bring a stronger stream around the mountain to the toll house, and turned it into a tank twenty feet long, two feet wide and the same deep, and that watered everything that came along. Looks like a big sum to pay? Oh, no; the investment paid and the road was soon out of debt. The largest day's collection? One thousand and twelve dollars. The smallest? I don't recollect.
Three sharpers played off on Father Murphy by drawing their pistols three different times. One day we saw them coining, and I went behind the fence put up to prevent horsemen going around. As soon as they came they began the same antics, when I jumped out with my double shotgun and yelled at them, 'Down with your weapons!' They not only paid for that time but for the others, and declared that they were only joking every time! Father Murphy would not 'draw' on any man, nor would he talk abruptly. They came along several times after, but never more gave trouble.
Yes, paid out the whole business and then spent profits to build up the Republican Party!
But in tune Father Murphy's remittance came along. With much regret I parted from him, for he was certainly an unusual man, and I shall always cherish his memory. He did not forget to give me his blessing.
Then Snyder tried to run the kitchen awhile. Up in the mountain I always had a big company at work on the road, and was hundreds of feet above any mere fog. Yes, it was always clear as crystal--the air was--except in actual storms.
Jacksonville was one of the most liberal places you ever saw, and projected a road to Crescent City. (J. S. Howard surveyed and leveled the track and says it's the nicest in Oregon. K.) It is also a historic town, for it has the oldest stone sidewalks in Oregon; actually laid down before anything now in existence in the Willamette! In the early fifties her trade was immense and she handled more money than the rest of the Territory! It was also a cosmopolitan town where everybody was welcome. Representatives of almost every nation were there, and hospitality was all but unbounded. All were social and sociable to the highest degree compatible with self-respect. The I.O.O.F. expended fabulous sums for the unfortunate, and the population was less affected with class distinctions than any place I have ever seen. The Odd Fellows detailed guards to watch all night for drunk men to bring them in and see them made safe; and such a condition continued for years. It was a refuge for 'went broke' men in a sweep of territory hundreds of miles in extent and miners was its specialty! It sent a force to the middle of the Umpqua Canyon to improve the trail so that the U.S. mail stage could travel securely.
As soon as roads and weather were good in the summer of 1859, people volunteered from all directions to improve the stage route so that before fall the coaches were flying through daily, and folks began to feel civilized, beyond frontier, above crudeness and--top notch!
Elisha Lindsay Applegate, quoted in Reese P. Kendall, Pacific Trail Camp-Fires, Chicago 1901, pages 264-270
A PANTHER STORY.Ashland Tidings, July 2, 1886, page 1
Poodle Dog Memento, and Suspicious Evidence of a Dude's Sad Fate.
SISKIYOU TOLL HOUSE, June 14, '86.In the summer of '84 a party of ladies and gentlemen were stopping a the Toll House for some time, enjoying the salubrious mountain air, and among them was a young lady who was quite romantic and took long walks accompanied only by a little black and tan poodle dog. There was nothing remarkable about the dog but a fine gold chain of a peculiar make around his neck. One afternoon this young lady was taking a walk accompanied by her dog as usual. I was sitting on the porch of the Toll House and there was quite a crowd of gentlemen present, when we were startled by a shriek up on the hill above the house. We all started at once and after running about three hundred yards we came upon the young lady on the edge of the road, senseless. It was some time before she recovered consciousness. She said that she was gathering flowers when a large cat-like animal sprang at her. Her little dog, Gyp, rushed at the brute and the animal grabbed her poor little dog and bounded off. She must have fainted and fallen where we found her. From her description of the animal I judged it to be a panther.
Three or four of the boys got their guns and searched for the panther but could not find any traces of it or the dog. I remember it caused quite an excitement amongst the ladies here, but died out like all such frights do.
Every once in a while since, the panther has been seen at different places in this vicinity. Last week a panther visited Mr. Oviatt's calf pen and picking up a six-month-old calf jumped a fence seven rails high and carried the calf about a mile. The next morning John Dick, who is living with Oviatt, came up to the Toll House after a gun and help to go after the animal. Archie Grieve went with him, taking his shepherd dog, Old Cap. They put Cap on the panther's trail, and after about two hours they trailed him to where the dead calf lay. The panther, being hard pushed, took to a tree. Both boys concluded to fire together, but being a little excited did not kill the panther, only slightly wounding it. The now thoroughly enraged brute jumped out of the tree and made direct for Johnny, but Archie's dog, quick as a flash, jumped in and tackled the panther, probably saving John's life. The dog and the panther were locked in a deadly embrace, and went rolling down the hill, first one on top then the other. Archie did not like to stand by and see his dog killed, yet he could not get a chance to shoot for fear of killing Cap. He drew his hunting knife, rushed in on the panther and succeeded in driving the knife into its heart. Poor old Cap was badly lacerated, and it will take several bottles of liniment to fix him. The panther measured 10 feet from the end of his nose to the tip of his tail.
The boys skinned the large animal, and in doing so their knife slipped and cut into his stomach. They then concluded to examine that receptacle, and see what kind of diet he had been living on. Among other things, they found a pair of sleeve buttons with moss agate sets, and the initials J.B. on the underside, also a gold chain of odd and peculiar pattern. As soon as I saw the chain I recognized it as the one that the lady's pet dog had around his neck when he disappeared two years ago, and it was, of course, conclusive proof that this was the panther that had caused the commotion then. The cuff buttons are not so easily accounted for. Possible they may be a clue to the fate of some poor dude who strayed from Ashland in a fit of ecstatic melancholy and was caught and devoured by this ravenous panther.
Yours, OX DRIVER.
COUNTY SECURES DOLLARHIDE ROAD
L. D. Dollarhide today accepted the proposal of the county court for $300 for that portion of his toll road needed in the new Pacific Highway right-of-way, instead of the $3000 originally demanded. The county secures the right to the use of the toll road for construction purposes.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 7, 1913, page 2
Fifty-three years ago I drove my ox team over the Siskiyou toll road at the end of my 2,000-mile drive from Illinois, and I found the almost impassable grades that I experienced on the trip, and when part way down from the summit I saw a man extending his glad hand, and my heart leaped with joy at such a greeting, but my exuberations were soon changed when he said $3.50 toll please, and I paid him my last dollar, leaving me 50 cents in my pocket. I said then and there that if I lived long enough I would change all those conditions, and I have never forgotten, and after waiting fifty-three years I have had my chance, for last spring I went to the county seat of Jackson County and asked them to give to C. F. Rhodes and myself the assignment to lay out a Pacific Highway across the Siskiyous, which was granted, and the order so made.
In about 1880 I had run the first line for the Oregon and California Railroad from Rogue River across the mountains and over to the Klamath River near Hornbrook. In so doing I had cross-sectioned the Siskiyou Mountains thoroughly and knew the ground as a man would know his own door yard. From the information thus acquired I drew an approximate map of the Pacific Highway, and with this equipped Mr. Rhodes as county engineer in the field, and myself as consulting engineer, undertook to make the survey of the highway with a maximum grade of six percent. Mr. Rhodes finished this preliminary survey about August 1 last, when Major Bowlby, state highway engineer, took charge, running the final detailed locations. So the old adage, all things come to him who waits, came true, and my fifty-three years' waiting is about to be rewarded during the new year. On November 28, with Mr. Sam Hill as chief, we celebrated the breaking of ground for the road, a cut of which will be found elsewhere in the New Year number of this paper.
James Sullivan Howard, "Road Building in Pioneer Days," Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1914, page E3
When this valley was dotted with beautiful farms and Ashland called Ashland Mills, Phoenix known as Gasburg, and Jacksonville was the hub of the universe (so to speak), my father moved his family from Douglas County where I was born, to southern Oregon, and we lived for two years at the toll house on the Siskiyous.
FREIGHT OVER SISKIYOU TOLL ROADLooking back to that time, I realize that it was a wonderful experience for a child. Every day the road was thronged; there were immense freight wagons drawn by six and eight yoke of oxen, towering Marietta wagons drawn by six span of horses; these we called the "bell teams." The leading span had, fastened to the collars, bows of iron which were hung with little bells. These bells were worn to warn other teams, as there were only occasional places on the narrow mountain grade where these teams could pass one another. When the driver of a team came to one of these places he would stop and listen. If he heard the faintest sound of bells there was nothing to do but wait until the other team passed. Then there were the long trains of fifty, sixty, and eighty pack mules all following the bell mare in single file.
Twice daily the great red and yellow stage coaches went swinging by, drawn by six splendid horses. Unless a horse weighed so many hundred pounds and was so many hands high, the Oregon and California Stage Company would not so much as look at him. They were all matched horses and I recall especially the sorrels and the grays. There were long trains of travel-stained immigrants with their weary ox teams. Think what the feelings of these people must have been when they crossed the Siskiyou Mountains and beheld far below them the promised land, the Rogue River Valley, lying like a beautiful garden between the mountain ranges.
FORESTS FULL OF GAMEI must not forget the wagons loaded with apples on their way to the mining towns in California. The wagon boxes were lined with straw and the apples piled into them. These apple peddlers advertised their fruit in a unique way by having a pointed stick fastened to a corner of the wagon bed on which was stuck an apple.
When winter came and the snow fell deep on the Siskiyous, as it sometimes does, Father used several yoke of oxen and a big bobsled to keep the road open to travel. Sometimes the snow would fall steadily, filling the road behind them, and all day long the weary oxen would have to travel back and forth over the long mountain grade. The forests were swarming with wild animals, panther, wildcats, black, cinnamon and grizzly bear, and great gray timber wolves which would howl in a blood-curdling way in the forest at dusk.
Alice Applegate Sargent, "A Sketch of the Rogue River Valley and Southern Oregon History,"
"That'll be $1.25 please. Hope you find the road good over the summit."
That's exactly what would have happened to you if you drove your buggy over the Siskiyou summit after 1859 and up to about 1913. It seems hardly possible that the old roads were financed in such a way with the current more indirect methods now in use. But it worked and was one way, at least according to records, to keep roads in fair shape and still make some money for the person that "owned the road."
It seems hardly possible in a time of great public road projects that private persons controlled the roads on an original "pay as you go" basis. According to Jacksonville Museum records of the Siskiyou Wagon Road Company, the road was first opened for toll charges on Aug. 28, 1859, and two horsemen were the first customers at 25 cents each. The Lindsay Applegate family operated the road after moving from the Umpqua to the toll house near the present railroad location of Steinman.
Business wasn't half bad. Everybody paid, evidently based on some index of road wear and tear. Prices started with 25 cents for a horseman to a drove of 700 sheep for $20. The most consistent revenue was the stage company, which paid a monthly rate, averaging about $80. At the end of the Civil War, this was just about the only revenue during the bad winter months. However, a year's total for 1864 was $3,738--a tidy sum in those times.
Road maintenance was extremely hard work in those days. The Applegate cash journal and "Diary of the Weather," which is being presented by Mrs. Myrtle Lee at the museum, reports that during the particularly stormy winter of 1871 the drifts were quite deep. On Feb. 21, 1871, the diary stated that the company "broak (broke) snow all day with three men and two yoak (yoke) of oxen pulled the stage to the summit." They also reported "blasting" rocks out "of the canyon" on numerous occasions. The road in use at this time was evidently not the first road in entirety, as a diary entry of Dec. 28, 1868 reports of a trip to the summit of the mountain on "the old (1848) road" on which they "got two deer killed there yesterday by Frank French."
Lindsay and Jesse Applegate made their first trip from Yoncalla in a party of 15 men over the Siskiyous (Boundary Mountains) into Mexican territory about 1846, according to a short essay by Frank L. Applegate, prior to the above-mentioned road. A path very near to the toll road was evidently used by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841. A group led by Lt. Emmons passed over the Boundary Range into Mexican territory and passed by Pilot Rock. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., who recorded the adventure of the Naval expedition [Wilkes was not on the overland expedition], said that in places the group traversed ". . . a steep and narrow path, where a single horse has barely room to pass." Indians impeded their progress, he related, with the burning of trees to fall across the path "and many other impediments placed to prevent the party from advancing."
Such were the hazards of early travel over the Siskiyous. The Applegates sold the toll road privileges to James Thornton in 1871, and Thornton in turn sold to the third and final owners, the Dollarhide family.
A well-known native of the Ashland community, Clarence E. Lane, remembers many trips over the mountains. He related that in the early days the road "was traveled quite a bit. The Ashland band and ballplayers would often go over the mountains to Yreka."
He remembers the old stage route, which went from Ashland, with as many as six stages leaving in one morning. First stop was either Casey's or Barron's, he related. They would then climb a small hill over to Wagner Soda Springs, where the road forked for the Greensprings route to Linkville (Klamath Falls) or over the Siskiyous. "Depending on the weather, the stages would then leave the station. If it was snowing, sleds would be used from this point," he continued.
The Siskiyou stage road would then wind up to a point beyond the present Steinman on the railroad right of way, where the toll gate was located. According to the Applegate toll book and diary, various travelers would spend the night at the toll house. The road then wound up to the summit, where the stages would meet in a widened area just this side of Cole's, the next stage stop, Lane said.
Harry Nordwick, "Highway Over Siskiyous Oldest Route in County," Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1953, page 14
Culvert Last Sign of Dollarhide Toll RoadThe last toll road in Jackson County is nothing more today than a rocky culvert and a faint clearing through the brush. It last saw service before women were allowed to vote.
Service Stopped in March, 1915, in Siskiyou Route
By DON ROBINSON
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
The Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road, later the Dollarhide toll road, wound its way painfully from the big Barron ranch house at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains four miles south of Ashland, through rocks and scrub oak southwest over the top of the mountain and down to the canyon floor, turning south again to the California border, halting wearily at what was known as Cole's Station.
It began as a familiar path for Indian ponies. That was in days when Indians, missionaries, and a few scattered trappers were the only humans in the Rogue River Valley.
It ended in 1915 as a well traveled 56-year-old "public road." The new Pacific Highway, predicted by the Mail Tribune in 1913 to be ". . . one of the scenic boulevards of the world," had sliced disrespectfully over the toll road and pushed it into history.
Today, even that highway is outdated. Too many "Sharp Curves" signs mark its path for 200-horsepowered travelers. Highway 99 is the present "boulevard" over the mountain.
An act of the Territorial legislature establishing a Siskiyou Wagon Road Company passed the House Jan. 14, 1858. It gave Michael Thomas and associates a 20-year franchise. to a road from Southern Oregon into California. Thomas sold the next year to Captain Lindsay Applegate.
Three Applegate brothers, Lindsay, Charles and Jesse and their families, had come to the Oregon Territory in the great wagon train migration from Independence, Mo., in 1843.
The Lindsay Applegates built a toll house halfway up the mountain . . . a log cabin with stone fireplace and heavy plank doors.
In 1861, [a] new house went up in its place. Ivan D., son of Lindsay Applegate, hauled lumber by freight wagon from a mill in Butte Falls for this large two-story frame dwelling. Rocks laden with seashells were gathered from in back of the building to make a pair of giant fireplaces inside.
Operated Nine Years
The Applegates operated the road and collected tolls for nine years.
Each day men on foot, in buggies and wagons, and droves of sheep, hogs and cattle moved along the road. Rates of toll ran from 25 cents for "one horseman" to the 40 to 80 dollars per month paid by the stage company.
The construction of the road made possible the organization of the Oregon-California Stage Company in 1860. The big red-and-yellow coaches carried mail from Sacramento to Portland the year around.
Jim Bell and Joe Leach were the pioneer stage drivers. They whipped their six-horse teams expertly around the narrow curves with never an accident.
On cold winter days, they would stop at the toll house, lead the team to the water trough outside, and go in to warm themselves by the perpetual fireplace blaze.
Bells on Horses
Always the lead span of horses on teams drawing wagons and coaches wore small bells on their harnesses. These "bell teams" were halted at each wide spot in the road. Drivers cocked an ear for twinklings on down the mountain. If they caught the sound of another team's bells, they waited until it had passed so as not to meet it on narrower, impassable stretches.
Trains of as many as 80 pack mules sometimes plodded through the toll gates behind a bell mare.
Ivan Applegate's "Cash Journal and Diary of the Weather," now being preserved in the Jacksonville Museum, is a handwritten, day-by-day account of toll payers and weather on the mountain for several months.
On a typical winter day, Dec. 22, 1868, it was noted "Today is cloudy and pirty cold at 3 o'clock it commenct raining and raind very hard until 6 o'clock when it broak off again."
Mrs. Emil C. Peil, first white baby born in Klamath County, daughter of Ivan Applegate, and now a resident of Ashland, tells this story of her father and his brother Oliver which happened at the toll house:
The two young men found a cow freshly killed by a bear which had been bothering cattle on the place for some time. They brought a rope from the house and perched themselves in an oak tree directly above the carcass.
Several hours went by. Then, rambling out of the brush, came a mother bear and her half-grown cub. When the bears were about to make a second meal of the cow, Oliver dropped a noose around the cub's neck and pulled the rope tight.
Ivan leaped onto its back. The Applegate dog, trained for hunting but not necessarily wrestling bears, tore into the fray. The blur of fur and buckskin rolled down a small hill, and Ivan said afterward it seemed as though the bear "turned right around in his skin."
Cub Tires Out
The cub was eventually tired out and quieted down. The boys tamed it and sold it to Woodward's Gardens in San Francisco, where it grew to be one of the largest bears ever known there.
Bad weather and like men caused the workers at the toll station to be constantly alert and laboring.
When winter came to the mountain, maintenance crews equipped with a team of oxen and heavy timbers spent the daylight hours clearing snow from the grade. It reached depths up to 16 feet at times. [The timbers were more to compact the snow than move it.]
On days when toll money amounted to a sizable sum, one of the men would be chosen to take it into the woods and sleep with it overnight. There were no banks nearby and holdup tries were not infrequent.
Ivan was once collecting toll when a "desperado" rode up on horseback and swung his rifle around at the young man, meaning to collect some toll himself. Ivan's father, Lindsay, saw the action from inside the house. He lifted his rifle to the window and fired into the air, sending man, horse and bad intentions galloping down the mountain.
After nine years of Siskiyou life, the Applegates sold to the Thornton brothers, James and Henry, and James Laughlin. The Thorntons operated the road until 1875, when corporation stock was transferred to Henry Clay Dollarhide (named after the famous U.S. Senator from Kentucky) and two Patterson brothers.
Henry owned 99 shares of stock. Joseph Patterson had 99, and George Patterson had only two. On Oct. 3, 1876, Henry's father, Jesse Dollarhide, joined the corporation and was elected its president.
In the meantime, the Oregon Territory had risen in political status. Oregon entered the Union as the 33rd state in February, 1859. Old roads created under [the] Territorial legislature became county property, with the provision that toll roads might be leased for periods of ten years, after which they could be purchased from their operators by the counties.
Jesse and Henry Clay Dollarhide signed their last Articles of Agreement with [the] Jackson County court on Oct. 6, 1880:
"The Siskiyou Wagon Road Company agrees to put down sixty rods of corduroy--also lessen the grade on the first hill this side of the state line on the toll road one-half inch to the foot less than it is at present.
"And agrees also to keep in good repair said road from Hugh F. Barron's to said state line for a term of ten (10) years at the same rates of toll as allowed under the present act."
The 10 years passed. The county, unwilling to spend money it did not have, moved not a finger to acquire the road. The Dollarhides consequently kept it open and the company operating.
L. Dudley Dollarhide, later known as "Uncle Dud," brother of Henry Clay, then entered the road business and bought out his father and brother. He moved with his wife and three children to the old toll house in 1897.
Dudley and his family cooked for the gangs putting through the first telephone, postal telegraph, and Western Union lines over the Siskiyous.
As the years wore on and a new century began, the traveling public grew more and more unfriendly toward paying toll each time it wanted to cross the mountain. "Uncle Dud" didn't return its unfriendliness, but neither did he return its money.
In 1913, a "better roads" movement in Jackson County culminated in the decision to build a Pacific Highway over the mountain, taking almost exactly the same route followed by the toll road. Negotiations with contractors and the state took time.
But on Nov. 28, 1913, in the presence of Governor Oswald West, the state highway commission, and "hundreds of prominent citizens," as the Mail Tribune phrased it, the first shovelful of earth was turned.
Dudley held tight to his road. He sold the rights from Barron's place to the Steinman railroad tunnel, but kept the section from Steinman to the border. Highway crews kept digging and finally dug straight across a part of the grade still legally in Dollarhide hands.
Dudley's lawyer, C. B. Watson of Ashland, protested in a series of four Mail Tribune articles of October, 1914: ". . . Dollarhide gave the county the right to cross his toll road in constructing the Pacific Highway with the express understanding that they were not to block or obstruct it. Yet they have constructed a fill directly across his road from side to side that is 16 feet high on the downhill side and eight feet high on the other side.
"The contractors have also, without leave, license, or consent, appropriated 600 feet of the toll road and forced travel out of the road and among the rocks."
In September, 1914, the Mail Tribune's front page told of a restraining injunction ordered against Dudley when he was ". . . alleged to have made threats backed by a shotgun against workmen employed on the road."
Dollarhide's grip loosened rapidly. On March 8, 1915, he sold all of the road to the county for $1,000.
"Uncle Dud" kept his toll house and continued to live on the mountain, running a few cattle and farming. When the new highway was completed, he noticed that the horseless carriages rolling over it were replete with ailments--notably flat tires and boiling radiators.
With his eye for opportunity as sharp as ever, Dudley built a service station several hundred yards down the highway from his house and did a healthy business there until Highway 99 was put through. He died in October, 1939.
The toll house, two barns and a blacksmith shop on the toll property were destroyed in a forest fire on a Sunday in December of 1929.
The toll road today is in a state of sad disrepair, difficult to find and more difficult to follow.
Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Presley, the former Dorothy Dollarhide, granddaughter of Dudley, bought several acres of the old corporation land, including what used to be the toll house, in 1946. They built a temporary house near the edge of the property's stand of virgin timber and moved in last July with their three giant St. Bernard dogs, Drifted Snow, Swiss Robe and Frosty Dawn.
Mrs. Presley and her husband intend to keep the quarter-mile of toll road that runs through their land cleared as a landmark.
They have erected a gatepost over the entrance to it painted "Old Wagon Road." Mrs. Presley derived this from the two names given the old route, "Mountain Trail" before 1856, and "Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road" after the corporation was formed.
Below the Presley place the road can be traced as a yellow culvert littered with rocks. Above, it is a faint but distinguishable path up to Highway 99, crossing the highway at milepost 334 two miles from the summit, crossing the Southern Pacific tracks near the Siskiyou station, heading up the eastern slope of the mountain, down the other side and along the rails to the border.
The Daughters of the American Revolution, Ashland, at the instigation of Mrs. Peil, plan to put up a marker on the Presley place near the old toll road, commemorating the Dollarhides, Thorntons and Applegates.
Mrs. Peil and Mrs. Presley are two of at least 34 children raised by the three successive families at the toll house: 12 by Applegates, 6 by Thorntons, and 16 by Dollarhides.
An amateur historian with several scrapbooks filled with clippings of her famed pioneer family, Mrs. Peil has the toll road as one of her historical interests.
She has notes and clippings about it, including a short essay written by her aunt, the late Mrs. Alice Applegate Sargent.
Mrs. Presley is also fond of her grandfather's old road, and is the possessor of the official records of stockholders' meetings held by the Thorntons and Dollarhides.
In finishing her essay, Mrs. Sargent wrote of the toll road: "Time has brought great changes, with the grade in ruins, the railroad circling the mountain slopes, and the great Pacific Highway, like a silver ribbon, winding its way where sure-footed Indian ponies used to go."
The pride of the Pacific Highway has now been transferred to Highway 99. But history at least will not forget the father of them both, the Siskiyou Mountain Wagon Road, later the famous and sometimes controversial Dollarhide toll road.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 5, 1956, page 12
Last revised May 22, 2019