“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Ione in Morrow County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

Willow Creek Campground

Willow Creek Campground Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 1, 2017
1. Willow Creek Campground Marker
Inscription.  The Oregon Trail crossing of Willow Creek was an important site on the trail. There was water and forage for the pioneers and their livestock. This was often a location for a layover to rest and equipment repair before pushing on to The Dalles and a decision about rafting down the Columbia River or taking the Barlow Road around the south side of Mt. Hood to the Willamette Valley. The trail continues westward up the side canyon across Willow Creek from this point. It is marked by posts installed by the Oregon-California Trails Association.
Oregon emigrant John Murray camped at Willow Creek September 16, 1853, and wrote: "camped about a mile up Willow Creek above where the road came to it ... good running water here & first rate grass." The next day he continued: "There was another trading post half a mile below where we camped where the water stands in pools -- Willow Creek has a bottom from 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide & about the half of it has even covered with rye & some fine grass -- The rest with greasewood -- among the greasewood is an abundance of alkali again. ... The bottom is enclosed by high rolling hills & the country near is very
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abrupt -- a few lodges of Indians live just above our camp. ... We stayed in camp this morning till 10 o'clock & let the cattle rest & take their fill of the fine grass up the bottom. ... We filled up with water & took wood along intending to make a dry camp. ... We drove down the bottom over a mile and then out the valley by an ascent about a mile and a half long. ... Saw two dead horses & 1 ox. Saw 18 graves yesterday in Willow creek bottom."
Of the eighteen graves Murray saw at Willow Creek, three can be identified. Elizabeth Toney died September 9, 1852, in childbirth; Mary Moore, age 34, died September 12, 1852, of mountain fever; Katie Rice, died September 13, 1852, of mountain fever.
The next campsite on the trail was at Fourmile Canyon, about seven miles to the west. The Cecil Store, 3/4 mile to the south, was constructed in 1862 and provided supplies to travelers and area residents until 1974.
Willow Creek Valley was used extensively by Native Americans as a travel route between the Columbia River and the Blue Mountains for hunting and gathering prior to the entry of Europeans into the Pacific Northwest.
Remnants of the Heppner Branch railroad line are visible at various locations in Willow Creek Valley. The railroad was instrumental in the development of the valley and south Morrow County as it provided transport for timber and agricultural products.
Willow Creek Campground Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, July 1, 2017
2. Willow Creek Campground Marker
The rail line was completed in 1888 and was discontinued in 1994.
The Cecil area has been active agriculturally since pioneer times with sheep, cattle, hay, and grain being the main farm commodities raised.
Erected 2007 by Oregon California Trails Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Oregon Trail series list.
Location. 45° 37.842′ N, 119° 57.144′ W. Marker is near Ione, Oregon, in Morrow County. Marker is on Oregon Route 74 near Cecil Lane, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ione OR 97843, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Rocks, Sand & Wind (approx. 4˝ miles away); Fourmile Canyon (approx. 4˝ miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on December 27, 2017. It was originally submitted on December 27, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 781 times since then and 383 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 27, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Jul. 18, 2024