Anywhere where there are animals or people; there are trails. The trails tell a story about the place. The trails are the arteries of a network that bind people into a societal patterns – a social contract of sorts. The trails reveal the rhythm and priorities of the place.
Long before Europeans had even conceived of a place like Oregon, there were routes crisscrossing the Pacific Northwest. People walked from the Puget Sound all the way up the river to Chehalis, and from there it was downhill to the Columbia River. Near Kalama, they either canoed across or swam the shallowest portion – crossing over to Sauvie Island’s eastside beaches. From there it was the long climb up the Tualatin Range on what later became Logie’s Trail. I suspect that Logie’s trail may indeed be one of the oldest routes of human North-South travel given it’s strategic location at the southern end of the “great Columbia River ford”.
Of course, our early European accounts of this region omit the terrestrial details since they were primarily water-borne explorations. The early texts quote Captain Gray, Lieutenant Broughton, and Lewis and Clark, but their perspective was from the surface of the river. Cruising up the river they had no clue of what lay even a few miles back, and certainly not what lay across the summit of the Tualatin Range.
The Logie Trail may be the oldest trail in Oregon and may be part of a primeval north-south migration pathway leading from the Puget Sound across the Columbia and down the west side of the Willamette Valley. Sometimes referred to as the Indian’s West Side trail this route originated in the Puget Sound and crossed the Columbia River at Sauvie island. From there it crossed to the western bank of the Columbia River and ascended what is currently called the “Logie Trail”. No doubt, James Logie did much to improve the route, but the pathway must have predated him by thousands of years. The ascent climbing out of the Columbia River Valley would have been quite steep, traversing a rocky slope to the top of the escarpment. The far side was heavily wooded with occasional open patches ideal for hunting and growing huckleberry bushes. On the western side of the Range the trail emerged near the present-day Glencoe. From there it crossed the Tualatin River , a bit south of Forest Grove, near the village of Dilley. According to Robert Benson, an earlier researcher, the trail eventually reached the upper Siuslaw at Lorane, and from there entered into the Umpqua valley where it dissolved.
No doubt this was one of the most important north-south arteries that for almost 15 thousand years had been carrying people south from where they had crossed into this continent. James Logie was really only a recent caretaker of one miniscule portion of the path. But then again that too is a great honor, to support for just a short time, one of the primal movers of civilization!
Another name is associated with this trail, and that’s “Chief Cowanich”, who had settled with his band near the Helvetia Rd. Like so many others, he had signed on to work in the Pacific Northwest and had been shipped in from the Hawaiian Islands. But he’d either tired of working directly for the HBC, or had retired and created his own community in Washington County. The Hawaiians lived in a tidy community outside the fort, and they constituted the fort’s main source of reliable manpower. This practice of importing Hawaiian began with the earliest shipments of spars delivered from Fort Vancouver to Oahu in 1828. Indeed, even on the first voyage in which the Columbia River was positively identified, a Hawaiian prince stood alongside Captain Gray as they finally crossed the bar – he was an honored guest aboard a ship that depended on the goodwill of the Islanders. They were shipped in from the islands by the hundreds during the 1830’s and soon became adept at working with the local tribes. Not surprisingly some Hawaiians went native and built their own communities.
One such settlement grew up around the Hawaiian chieftain, Cowanich. About two miles north of Helvetia Rd, on the Logie trial is the location of “Cowanich’s Schoolhouse” – the place where his people gathered in the winter. In the fall of 1859 the news of that Chief Quarterly’s Klickitat marauders were operating in the area spread quickly. Cowanich, whose own claim lay squarely athwart the raiders path wasted no time and assembled a posse of local Indians and several of his white neighbors to repel the raiders. They rode up the western slope of the Logie Trail looking for the horsemen. Near the top, close to present-day Bishop Road, they caught up with the retreating Klickitats. Wild shots were exchanges at some distance, and surprisingly Cowanich’s horse was hit, throwing the chieftain to the ground. But the Klickitat’s had seen enough and weren’t about to stick around for a gunfight involving white settlers. That marked the last of the infamous Klickitat raids south of the Columbia River using the Indians’ Westside Trail.