Historical Marker

Elizabeth Krambeal, left, and regent Judy Wheeler of the Coos Bay Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, pose with a monument on State Highway 42 commemorating the  Overland Trail. The monument was recently moved to a more visible location across from Confusion Hill Road.

COOS BAY — When the road moves away from a roadside monument, what can you do?

That was the question the Coos Bay Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution pondered for 61 years.

In 1930, they’d worked with the Oregon Highway Department to place a monument along State Highway 42 at a locale called Overland, on what is now Roderick Road, near where the present highway crosses the railroad tracks.

According to the Coos Bay Times of Oct. 21, 1930, “Mrs. Hugo Quist, regent of Coos Bay Chapter, in presenting the marker, reviewed the pageant of history which had crossed at that spot.”

Native Americans were the first to use a trail near Overland to get from the from Beaver Slough in the Coquille Valley to the head of Isthmus Slough on Coos Bay.

When settlers arrived, they widened the trail, then put down logs to form a so-called corduroy road over which oxen pulled freight on a sled. Later, wooden rails topped with iron were laid, and a mule could pull a freight car over the divide.

Around 1874, the Isthmus Transit Railroad was started. Track was laid for a steam locomotive that could haul freight and the newly discovered coal between the two waterways.

The 1930 ceremony installed a marker reading “To commemorate the old trail, Coos Bay waters to Coquille waters, 1850-1874.”

The monument consisted of a bronze tablet cast in Portland, mounted on a concrete slab poured by Hugo Quist and Soren Jensen. Local lumber, cement, gravel and trucking companies donated supplies and labor for the project.

After the historical reminiscences and patriotic speeches had died away, the marker remained by the roadside until 1950, when State Highway 42 was realigned to the west. Travelers could still see it, but they had to get off the road to read it.

About a year ago, DAR members contacted the Oregon Department of Transportation to request that a sign be placed along the highway to direct motorists to the monument.

Sam Dunnavant, ODOT’s regional environmental coordinator, visited the site.

“I found the monument sitting in a trailer park, in the front yard of the park’s manager,” Dunnavant said in an article about the marker that appeared in ODOT’s internal newsletter. “I immediately thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to direct state highway traffic to that destination.”

Dunnavant suggested moving the marker, and he and Tony Martinez, ODOT’s Davis Slough maintenance manager, came up with the idea of moving it about a mile north to the pullout on the east side of the highway across from Confusion Hill Road.

Martinez’ crew wrapped the monument in plywood and strapped it to a loader for the move.

Last Monday, DAR members looked on as an ODOT sign paid for by the DAR chapter was installed to guide motorists to the marker.

These days, the chapter focuses on sponsoring Indian schools, rendering assistance to wounded veterans and distributing scholarships, said Elizabeth Krambeal, a member.

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