Philip Foster Farm

OTCC Interpretive Panels

First Signs of Civilization

Philip and Mary Foster emigrated from Maine by ship to Ft. Vancouver in 1843. After exploring several locations in the Willamette Valley, the Fosters settled here in a log cabin--the current house, built in 1883, is the third to occupy this site. In 1846 Foster joined Samuel K. Barlow's effort to build and operate a toll road for Oregon trail emigrants over the cascade Mountains from The Dalles. foster succeeded Barlow as primary owner of the barlow Road in 1851 and operated under charter from the territorial legislature until 1857. In July of 1846 Ruben Grant became the first among thousands to drive a wagon over the Barlow road and stop here at what Rev. Neil Johnson in 1851 considered, "the first signs of civilization since I left St. Joseph." Weary emigrants enjoyed gracious hospitality at the Foster's farm--some enjoyed themselves too much.  

"...we arrived at Mr. foster's about 10 a.m., and camped by a creek near the Foster home...and then engaged in dinner at the house at a rate of fifty cents per meal. Our dinner consisted of hot biscuits, cold slaw, fresh beefsteak, and boiled potatoes, served with hot coffee or tea. this meal tasted very good and sweet to us after our long trip of five months across the continent...One young man took a chair at the table with us and continued eating after the thirs table was served. finally Mr. foster, fearing the young man would kill himself by eating too much, ordered him from the table. He very reluctantly obeyed, went out to camp...and laid down in the grass. He soon became a sick young man, and for the next three hours writhed in great agony..."
E. W. Conyers; September 23, 1852

Journey Well Nigh Ended

Thousands of Oregon Trail emigrants trekked the Barlow Road. Many crested the east ridge, caught their first glimpse of Philip Foster's farm, and along with John Tully Kerns found, "Our spirits lifted at this sight...as if our journey was well nigh ended." Most emigrants stopped here to rest, graze livestock and purchase necessary supplies before continuing toward new lives in the Willamette Valley.

"Mr. Foster has accommodations for emigrants and their sick. he has a store to supply them with provisions and he booards a great many of them at his own table. He also has pasturing for stock, an abundance of hay, oats, in short everything that the emigrant needs when stopping. Nearly everyone stops for a short time...He has a very comfortable frame house, barn, storehouse, and other out houses. He has a fine young apple and peach orchard, which are both bearing very well. We had a good supper on potatoes and beef. The potatoes raised here are very good indeed, being very dry and rich. The bread is very white, so that the wheat and flour must be good. The house and supper table are crowded like a hotel..." Esther Belle Hanna; September 16, 1852

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