History & Culture

Brief Timeline Tracing the Establishment of the Willamette National Forest

Year What Happened


(March 3) – Forest Reserve Act


Cascade Range Forest Reserve was established, extending from the Columbia River nearly to the California border. Thirty-six Forest Reserves were established in the west at this time.


Organic Act


Authority for National Forests was transferred from Dept of Interior to the Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Appropriations Act changed name to Forest Service.


Changed names of Forest Reserves to National Forests.  The Cascade Forest Reserve was divided into the Oregon, Cascadia and Umpqua National Forests


Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, was fired by President Taft


Santiam and Cascade NF were established out of the former Cascadia National Forest, covering the same general land area as the future and current Willamette National Forest. Headquarters for the 2 forests were in Albany and Eugene, respectively.  Acting Forest Supervisor for the Santiam was FH Brundage, until he was replaced by CC Hall as the official “first” in 1916. CC Hall enjoyed his summer headquarters at Fish Lake Remount Station.  At the Cascade NF, Smith Bartrum was the first Forest Supervisor. 


(July 1) The Willamette National Forest was established.  At 1,666,998 acres it was the largest national forest in Oregon and was comprised of 5 Ranger Districts:  West Boundary, Oakridge, McKenzie Bridge, Detroit, and Cascadia.

More Resources

History of the Willamette National Forest: This comprehensive book written by Lawrence & Mary Rakestraw covers history of the Willamette National Forest from 1891 to 1988. Electronic version courtesy of Forest History Society

The Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region Flickr site: historic photos from across the region, including from the Willamette National Forest.

Forest Service Historical Photograph Collection

National Forest Service Historic Photo Archives


Santiam Wagon Road: Linking Landscapes and Livelihoods

Photo of group horseback riding along the Santiam Wagon Road

The Santiam Wagon Road holds an interesting and unique place in Oregon’s history. Unlike other wagon roads that were built to bring settlers to the Willamette Valley, this road was designed to lead settlers and their livestock eastward to the rich pasture lands of Central Oregon and to markets throughout eastern Oregon and Idaho.

It served as the primary means of transportation across the central Cascade Mountains for most of the 74 years (1865-1939) it was in use. The road served as a livestock, freight and stage route facilitating trade, commerce, and communication, which significantly contributed to the economic enhancement and settlement of both regions.

Today it is a valued treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Along the route you can explore what early travelers experienced on their journey through the central Cascades. Many access points can be found along Highways 20 and 126, which follow the original route of the wagon road.

Santiam Pass Ski Lodge

1938 Enroute to Hoodoo Butte

The USDA Forest Service is entrusted with the responsibility of preserving cultural resources, and have nominated the site to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.   On May 10th, 2018, the Willamette National Forest signed the operating plan and special use permit for the restoration of the Santiam Pass Ski Lodge. The new permittees, Sue and Dwight Sheets will be working with community members and foundations to renovate the CCC-built lodge to its former condition...Learn more.

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