Floating the Columbia by yourself was risky. Commercial ferrymen set up shop, but their prices were outlandishly high. One man who was particularly angry about high ferryboat prices was Sam Barlow. And so he devised a plan to build a road from The Dalles to the Willamette Valley, avoiding the Columbia altogether. Just one thing stood in his way: Mt. Hood. But Barlow was determined--and in 1845 he and a few men began hacking and cutting their way through the forests of Mt. Hood. The thick pine and steep hills proved to be difficult obstacles, but Barlow was determined. By 1846, the Barlow Road was finished, complete with toll gates. The charge: five dollars per wagon. It was an immediate success. Emigrants willingly endured the steep inclines and sheer descents because it certainly was better than the ruinous rapids of the Columbia River--or was it?
"The traveling was slow and toilsome; slopes were almost impassible for man and beast. As night was coming on, it seemed we all must perish, but weak, faint and starving we went on. I could scarcely put one foot before the another. I weighed less than eighty pounds at the time. My own party had been 14 days with only nine biscuits and four small slices of bacon. "