Vale—Burns—Bend — Sisters — Albany; 370 m. State 54. Santiam
Paved or gravel roadbed. Between Burns and Bend route traverses 138 miles
of almost uninhabited country. Sufficient gas and water should be provided.
Service stations at Hampton, and a few other points. Snow occasionally blocks
road at Santiam Pass on the summit of the Cascades. Sudden winter blizzards
in the desert country an added hazard.
Union Pacific Railroad parallels the route between Vale and Juntura; Oregon
Short Line between Juntura and Burns; Southern Pacific Railroad between Al-
bany and Lebanon. Motor stage service between Burns and Bend, also Bend and
Sisters; summer stage service over the Cascades.
Tourist accommodations range from excellent to very limited; hotels in cities;
Through central Oregon State 54 crosses a comparatively unsettled
country, about which cluster the traditions of the Old West, when the
range was free, herds uncounted, and ranches small principalities, with
the latch-string out for strangers. But the cowboy of tradition has van-
ished, and a modern, less picturesque type has taken his place. The red
men who drove off the cattle and burned the buildings of the ranchers,
doze on the reservations, and the rustlers live only in memory or on the
picture screen. The open spaces are tamed by the invading homesteader.
The cattle kings of the Old West are gone, and their vast empires lost
in a mesh of barb wire.
Between Burns and Bend lies the High Desert, graveyard of home-
steaders' hopes. When the better lands of Oregon had been taken up,
land-hungry settlers swarmed into this, one of the most inhospitable
regions of continental United States. High, arid, treeless, and chill,
the country baffled the utmost labors of the homesteaders and destroyed
their dream of a new wheat empire. It has reverted to what it was
before the unhappy pioneers went down to defeat. Beyond the Cascades
is the more densely settled Willamette Valley.
State 54 follows approximately the route of the old central Oregon
Emigrant Trail. In 1845, a wagon train piloted by Stephen H. L.
Meek, brother of the famous Col. Joe Meek, came through this region,
in an attempt to find a short cut to the Willamette Valley, instead of
following the established route of the Oregon Trail. The country was
unknown to any of the party other than Meek. Bewildered by the maze
of similar ridges, canyons, and washes of the region, he was soon lost.
For weeks the migrants struggled across the sagebrush desert, suffering
intensely from the lack of water and food, but finally won through to
the Deschutes, which they descended to The Dalles. More than 70