Buck Rock Tunnel: East Portal (Ashland, Oregon) 23-Jan-2021

Two weeks ago, we journeyed just south of Ashland to explore a tunnel started by the long-defunct Oregon & California Railroad. Their tunnel under Buck Rock was only partially-completed and has been abandoned since 1884. We climbed Buck Rock and found the tunnel’s West Portal but not its East Portal. Today was one of The LovedOne’s volunteer days at the library, so I headed out solo to visit the East Portal and bring closure to our Buck Rock saga.

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Buck Rock Tunnel: West Portal (Ashland, Oregon) 07-Jan-2021

In the early 1880s, the then Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad was trying to extend its tracks south to the California border. So they surveyed a route that looped around Buck Rock south of Ashland. This particular route crossed difficult terrain that would require multiple tunnels and tall bridges. The O&C had just started on the tunnels (including the Buck Rock Tunnel – O&C Tunnel No. 13) on their route when they were acquired by the Southern Pacific Railroad. That railroad’s civil engineers had a different, shorter, less expensive route to California in mind. So the half-completed Buck Rock Tunnel was abandoned where it was in the ridge south of Buck Rock. It’s still there and intact after 140 years and has recently become something of a popular local hiking destination, accessible mostly on abandoned roads and an obvious use trail. It now lies within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) built a small parking lot at the end of the dirt road you can use to access it.

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Buck Rock (Trail, Oregon) 03-Jan-2018

Buck Rock Fire Lookout Trail Oregon

Well, we’ve started into the New Year with the weather repeatedly threatening snow and rain but not producing much of either. So, the check is in the mail and it’ll snow next week…promise! In the meantime, I’m occupying myself with visits to odd, but interesting, places that are probably not worthy of a full dayhike. Last year it was the old fire lookout site atop Tallowbox Mountain. This year, I went for a similar old lookout site on Buck Rock near Trail, Oregon.  Meanwhile, The LovedOne is spending more time volunteering at the library.

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