Cutoff Fever

Cutoff Fever (HM20T0)

Location: Vale, OR 97918 Malheur County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 58.962', W 117° 13.968'

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Oregon History

Eager to save time on the Oregon Trail, emigrants often attempted shortcuts. Between 1845 and 1854, three wagon trains left this campsite seeking a cutoff to the Willamette Valley.

The Meek Cutoff of 1845

Frontiersman Stephen Meek persuaded over 1,000 people with 200 wagons to avoid the notorious Blue Mountains, Cayuse Indians, and Columbia River by turning west up the Malheur River into Central Oregon. Unable to find water west of Wagontire Mountain, the train turned north and rejoined the Oregon Trail at The Dalles. Hunger and illness led to 23 deaths on the trek.

The Elliott Cutoff of 1853

Elijah Elliott convinced over 1,000 people with 215 wagons to attempt a shortcut over the partially completed Free Emigrant Road which had been explored in 1852. Elliott's party followed Meek's route as far as the Harney Valley before striking a different course around Malheur and Harney Lakes. Continuing westward, they became disoriented and desperate. Scouts eventually found the Free Emigrant Road in the Cascade Mountains and reached the Willamette Valley settlements. The settlers soon organized a rescue party to help the stranded emigrants.

The Macy Cutoff of 1854

In 1852, the road districts of Benton,
Lane, and Linn Counties had jointly hired William Macy to find a route between Skinner's (now Eugene) and the distant Malheur River. Macy crossed the Cascade Mountains and followed the Deschutes River north until he turned east on the Meek Cutoff. A skirmish with Snake Indians in the Harney Valley forced the party to abandon the search. The venture led to the eventual construction of the Free Emigrant Road. In 1854, Macy led 121 wagons over much the same route as Elliott's without recorded difficulty.
HM NumberHM20T0
Placed ByOregon Travel Information Council, Malheur County Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 at 7:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)11T E 481330 N 4869977
Decimal Degrees43.98270000, -117.23280000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 58.962', W 117° 13.968'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 58' 57.72" N, 117° 13' 58.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)541
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 979 Washington St E, Vale OR 97918, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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