Over the past two centuries the Western United States has lured settlers. Some were modest prospectors and others wildly ambitious speculators. However, most were in search of financial opportunity or making a fresh start. Out west they found richer soils and free roaming land, and the toil of these early settlers largely shaped the West into what it is today. While venturing into forests and along streams, in search of waterfalls or mountain vistas, you may find remnants of the various ways man struggled to tame nature, both successfully and with complete failure. For good or bad, numerous artifacts of these projects of western expansion still remain and have become part of the story of the places we explore for outdoor recreation.
We have compiled a list of 10 very unique adventures in Oregon and Southern Washington in which this legacy can be explored. In the Opal Creek Wilderness, gold was pursued up until 1992, and in the Ochoco Mountains, mercury was successfully extracted until the 1950s. Throughout the West, failed mine shafts are sprinkled in the mountains, evident at Sweeny Falls, Henline Falls and at Pike Creek. In the coastal range of Northwest Oregon, countless miles of tunnels were cut to make way for logging operations, now accessible along abandoned railroad lines. Also, along the tributaries of the Clackamas River, more tunnels were used to divert water for power generation.
Each of these 10 adventures offers a chance to get a first-hand and up-close look at how the Western U.S. was settled. Whether seeking history or outdoor adventure, exploring these areas will get you to think about the West a little differently.