Buck Rock Tunnel 10-29-21

Photos by Mike and Valerie

Eleven of us spent the morning on a pre-Halloween quest to the Buck Rock Tunnel in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. We hiked up the fire/forest road, staying to the right at each Y, to find a collection of small rocks placed in the shape of an arrow to indicate the spur trail up to the cave. We had climbed 600’ elevation for 2 miles.

We found the result of herculean efforts by Chinese laborers who worked in the early 1880s to dig 13 tunnels through difficult terrain, following the prescribed route of the Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad to reach south to the California border. The O&C became financially extended and was acquired by the Southern Pacific Railroad which charted a shorter, less expensive route and abandoned the work.

The Buck Rock Tunnel was 2/3-completed and remains intact after 140 years. It is the largest of the 13 tunnels begun by O&C. The opening on the opposite side of Buck Rock Tunnel can be found (with difficulty) by returning to the fire/forest road and trails. We did not do this. The route has no signs and many forks. We advise having someone along who knows the way. We hiked just 4 miles RT and 600’ elevation gain today.

A YouTube link showing a hiker visiting both sides of the Tunnel:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Buck+Rock+Tunnel

A YouTube link showing SOU archeology professor Chelsea Rose on the history of this railroad effort and the people involved:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46Uf0s7q1lg

Once in the tunnel, we celebrated Halloween with our costumes and spooky imaginations of critters and goblins in the cave (there were none). The sun had emerged and views were lovely from the mountain over the tunnel, so we lunched there and finished with Halloween sugar cookies.

The return route was all downhill, accumulating more sticky mud and grasses on our boots. Forewarned, there were not complaints on the anticipated chore cleaning up boots.

Elisabeth

Ashland Hiking Home

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