Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, March 01, 2017, Page 4A, Image 4

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Life in the
Valley y
Bill Sullivan is seen at the edge of Hogg Rock.
Skiing the Hogg
Across from Hoodoo ski area is a trail that leads past
Santiam Lodge to an abandoned railroad and up Hogg Rock
Hogg Rock, the cliff-edged plateau
you skirt as you drive up Santiam Pass,
has been an obstacle to navigation since
Colonel T. Egenton Hogg attempted to
build a transcontinental railroad
around its slopes in 1877. In winter, the
icy-walled mesa looms more forbidding
than ever.
But a relatively easy, if unmarked,
snowshoe route from the Santiam Pass
Sno-Park allows adventurers to explore
the circular summit. Along the way, you
can expect breathtaking views,
snowed-under ponds, gnarly snags, a
derelict lodge, a vanished railroad tres-
tle and the faint growl of tractor-trailer
rigs grinding up the grade below.
Like Hayrick Butte on the other side
of Santiam Pass, Hogg Rock is a lava
flow that erupted underneath a glacier
in the Ice Age, leaving a flat-topped
Most of the winter traffic to Santiam
Pass these days heads for the Hoodoo
ski area or the neighboring Ray Benson
Sno-Park. That’s where the groomed or
marked snow trails are.
Adventurers, however, prefer the
Santiam Sno-Park, almost directly op-
posite the Hoodoo entrance road at the
top of the pass. This plowed parking
area has a restroom and a snow play
area where kids careen on sleds and
Boy Scouts build snow caves. It is also
the jumping-off point for treks into the
snowed-under Mt. Jefferson Wilder-
ness and Hogg Rock. Remember to
bring a Sno-Park permit, available at
outdoor stores.
Santiam Lodge is covered in snow at Santiam Pass. This boarded-up, shake-sided relic was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 and
plans are in the works to restore the building.
fighters quickly wrapped the entire
wooden building in Kevlar sheeting.
Abandoned for decades, Santiam
Lodge would cost millions of dollars to
restore, and yet spunky developers are
now planning with the Forest Service to
do exactly that.
An old lodge
A railroad gamble
Most people begin at the snow play
area at the east end of the parking lot.
For Hogg Rock, start at the west end.
No trail signs or markers guide the
way, but if you parallel Highway 22 to
the west for about 0.2 mile, you’ll dis-
cover Santiam Lodge.
This boarded-up, shake-sided relic
was built by the Civilian Conservation
Corps in 1939 at the same time as the
original lodge at Hoodoo. When I was a
child, I recall Presbyterian Church
retreats at Santiam Lodge, with voices
echoing in the bunkrooms, crowds lin-
ing up for dinner in the low-ceiling
dining hall and fires blazing on huge
stone hearths.
Santiam Lodge survived the 1968
forest fire that burned the lodge at
Hoodoo. Santiam Lodge also withstood
the B&B Fire of 2003 because fire-
From Santiam Lodge, a snowmobile
trail heads briefly west alongside High-
way 22 before turning north at the base
of Hogg Rock. Where the trail turns
away from the highway, you might
bushwhack left a few hundred yards on
a route that traverses the slope of Hogg
Rock just above the highway. This is
the railroad grade built by Colonel
Hogg’s legions of Chinese and Italian
The rail bed is most obvious at a
roadcut blasted through rock. To the
west of this cut, the grade vanishes in a
rockslide. To the east, it leads to the
embankment of a vanished trestle.
Hogg had dreamed of building a
railroad from Newport to New York.
But he ran out of money after building
the line east from the Willamette Valley
as far as the hamlet of Idanha. His gov-
ernment contract required that he com-
plete a crossing of the Cascade Range
before he could claim land grants along
the right-of-way.
In a desperate gamble, Hogg
stopped laying track at Idanha and
instead built 11 unconnected miles of
track here at Santiam Pass, around
Hogg Rock. Then he hauled a disas-
sembled boxcar through the woods, put
it on the track and hitched 14 men to
pull it back and forth across the sum-
Straight-faced, Hogg announced to
the government that he had succeeded
in running a train over the pass.
But he went bankrupt anyway.
View from the top
After inspecting the abandoned
railroad grade, return to the snow-
mobile trail and follow it up to the north
for 0.2 mile to a rock quarry. Snow-
mobiles sometimes zoom about this
rock amphitheater. But they can’t get
up to the summit of Hogg Rock. To do
that, zigzag up the steepish slope to the
left (south) of the rock quarry. After
about 300 feet of elevation gain, the
route opens up onto the summit plat-
My skiing partner insisted that I
should warn readers not to venture too
near to the cliffs that surround Hogg
Rock on three sides. I think this warn-
ing is unnecessary. Any healthy person
who snowshoes or skis to the lip of this
precipice will recognize that the world
ends here. You cannot lean out to see
the trucks on the highway below be-
cause then you would plummet down to
join them.
Instead, stand back from the cliff
edge and admire the peaks along the
horizon. The view sweeps clockwise
from Black Butte in Central Oregon to
the spire of Mount Washington, the ski
lifts of Hoodoo, the distant fire lookout
atop Sand Mountain’s double cinder
cone, the corniced ridge of Potato Hill
and the hoary crags of Three Fingered
The only way to return from this
viewpoint is the way you came. Be safe.
Remember Santiam Lodge and Colonel
Hogg’s railroad — dreams that have
struggled and sometimes failed at
Hogg Rock.