When the state of Oregon was in its infancy, farmers on the coast desperately needed a way to transport their products to the Willamette Valley. After a failed attempt to construct the road himself, local businessman James Quick turned to the state legislature He convinced them to approve the sale of bonds to pay for the construction costs.
Road construction began sometime in 1870, and the first stagecoaches took the journey over the Coast Range in 1872. By 1874, the road was being used every day except Sunday.
The journey from Yamhill to Tillamook County took two days. Passengers arrived in Yamhill, usually by train, to begin the first leg of the trip. They stopped for the night in hotels in and around the historical town of Fairdale, which lay east of where 5Rock Ranch sits today.
An Unforgettable Journey
At six in the morning, the arduous leg of their journey began. If the passengers were lucky, they arrived at their destination by four in the afternoon. If they were unlucky, they faced rain, mud, or mudslides; snow, ice, or freezing temperatures; or high winds which meant fallen trees or branches blocking their path.
All passengers endured a swaying coach as they traversed the steep curves, narrow ridge tops, and those oh, so scary, steep downhill grades. Some drivers put poles through the spokes of the back wheels. This allowed the coach to slide down the hills, but kept it from overrunning the horses. One passenger in 1889 told the McMinnville Telephone-Register that the journey was, "The most awful ride in the world."
The Pacific Rail and Navigation Company started train service to the coast in 1911. Over time, traffic on the Trask River Toll Road began to diminish, and the hotels in Yamhill and around Fairdale closed down. The final stagecoach left Yamhill in December of 1911.
Road construction in Tillamook, c. 1920.
Tillamook County Roads and Bridges
The Undeniably God Part of the Story
In 1922, the Mitchell family bought the land where one of the toll road hotels, the Travelers Rest, once stood. Almost fifty years later, the next generations of Mitchell’s started the Flying M Ranch. The original lodge was built in 1971, and destroyed by fire in 1983. With the help of family and friends, the lodge was rebuilt and reopened in 1984.
In 2006, the Mitchell family sold the lodge and the land surrounding it. The family that bought it wanted to use it as a sanctuary for men and women in need. They worked with Scott and Christy Bradley to establish 5Rock Ranch Ministry. Today, they provide the ranch to the ministry for a dollar a year in rent.
Barnes, John. Trask Toll Road. https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/trask_toll_road. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Mitchell, Bryce & Barbara. About Flying M Ranch: A Little History. https://www.flying-m-ranch.com/flying-m-ranch.html. Accessed November 8, 2020.
Tillamook County Oregon. https://www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/pw/HistoricalPhotos.htm. Accessed November 12, 2020.
Tillamook County Historical Society. Map. 2011. http://lazeut.com/genweb2/showmedia.php?mediaID=980. Accessed November 11, 2020.
Tillamook Headlight Herald. Rewind to the time of stagecoaches on Trask River Toll Road. May 13, 2015. https://www.tillamookheadlightherald.com/news/historical-society-to-offer-tour-of-most-awful-ride-in-the-world/article_dcdb4528-d9b4-11e0-b752-001cc4c03286.html. Accessed November 7, 2020.