Battle Axe Inn

Historic Battle Axe Inn

Government Camp began in 1849. This was when the first U.S. regiment of Mounted Riflemen crossed the plains into Oregon country arriving at the Dalles. Most of the troops and their equipment were transported downriver to Vancouver, Washington by boat. The remaining troops expected to follow when boats became available. Plans changed, however, and the troops were ordered to proceed to Oregon City by the Oregon Trail. Bogged down by mud and snow, with half of the livestock lost or dead and soldiers near total exhaustion, Lt. David Frost abandoned 45 Cavalry wagons in October, 1849, before starting down Laurel Hill. Their noted presence beside the Barlow Road became the namesake of the alpine village – Government Camp. The Barlow Road allowed thousands of Oregon Trail emigrants to travel overland to the Willamette Valley rather than risk floating the dangerous Columbia River. The route skirted today’s Ranger Station, located just across Highway 26, and passed within feet of this location. Travelers went on through what is now the village of Government Camp, proceeding west toward the infamous Laurel Hill.Located two miles west of Government Camp, the challenging Laurel Hill descent earned a reputation among pioneers as a troublesome part of the Oregon Trail. Emigrants had to lower wagons down a series of steep rocky chutes from ropes snubbed to trees, or drag big logs behind them in hopes they wouldn’t careen down the ravines.”Come to Laurel Hill. The is the worst hill on the road from the states to Oregon…” Diary of Absalom Harden, 1847.