Barlow ‘Pioneer Camp’ is Sept. 7-15

The Barlow Ranger District of the Mount Hood National Forest will be sponsoring its 21st annual Pioneer History Camp Sept. 7-15.

This living history camp, attended by more than 600 children last year, provides many unique hands-on activities to give visitors an inside view of life along the final stretch of the Oregon Trail in the 1840s.


The camp will be held at White River Station Campground located along the historic Oregon Trail in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. Admission is free. The camp is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The pioneer living history camp is along a river crossing on the Barlow Road, the last overland section of the Oregon Trail, and is designed to give visitors a glimpse of life for pioneers back when the Barlow Road was just being established as a designated route along the Oregon Trail. The campground will be set up to look and feel like an 1840s pioneer camp complete with a covered wagon, trunks full of everyday goods, tin ware, period dishes, cast iron Dutch ovens, bags of dried foods, and much more. Interpreters, mainly volunteers, dress in pioneer clothing, live in tents and cook their meals over a fire during the week-and-a-half experience, and conversations with the interpreters will bring the pioneer story to life for visitors.

The display is outside and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. There is plenty of room for parking and the road is passable for school buses. Schools can visit for one-day organized field trips during the week. Scout groups are also welcome. To sign up for an organized field trip, call 541-467-5137.

“There will be five stations full of pioneer activities highlighting pioneer life from wool carding to flint and steel fire making,” said Cora Lee Groce, the program’s creator and coordinator. “Everything is hands-on so the kids can really experience pioneer life.”

Pioneer camp has fun activities for visitors of all ages, but most camp activities are designed for kids aged between 8-12. There will be a collection of children’s toys from the period to try out, Dutch oven cooking, a tree that was 100 years old when the pioneers passed by, butter making with a dasher churn, rope making, and an actual archeological dig that shows genuine pioneer artifacts that have been found at this site.

“Some of my ancestors came through on the Barlow Road, said Groce. “So this camp means a lot to me and is just a good thing to do. The kids are always so excited.”


The White River Station campground is located along Forest Service road 3530. For more information or directions, contact Rachel Drake at the Barlow Ranger District at 541-467-5152.

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