Before Euro-Americans arrived, Native people crossed the mountains on rugged trails to visit relatives, trade with other tribes, and gather food for winter. Later, prospectors, sheepherders, settlers and early Forest Service rangers used the same trails on foot or horseback. In the late 1800's, engineers explored this area to find a route for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The mountains were too steep. Not until 1951 was Highway 12 completed across the mountains.
Present: Travel through a geologic wonderland
Today, highways provide easy access to many fascinating sites to see and things to do. Highway 12 passes through one of the most interesting geologic landscapes in Washington. Here, travelers can see volcanoes of many kinds, shapes, and sizes.
A ??Cinder cones are smaller with steep sides, usually basalt from a single eruption.
Spiral Butte is an example of a cinder cone.
B ??Large strato-volcanoes, layered cones of lava, ash and rock tower above surrounding peaks.
Strato-volcanoes include Mt. Ranier, Mount St. Helens and Mt. Adams.
C ??Shield volcanoes, named for their low, flattened shape, form from thin basalt lava flows.
Shield volcanoes are difficult to see because of their low profile.
D ??Intrusions were formed when lava solidified underground and surrounding material eroded away.
Goose Egg Mountain was formed from an intrusion.
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Beautiful coiled baskets made from cedar roots and dyed ryegrass were used to carry roots, berries and as trade items.
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White Pass was named for Charles A. White, one of the engineers who explored the area in 1877 to find a railroad route. The drawing above illustrates the difficult conditions an early survey crew may have faced.