They called it Fort Deposit!

Mt. Hood Fall & Winter 1845 - 1846
The story of Oregon's first self-storage facility

Our name, FORT DEPOSIT, is an authentic Oregon original, straight out of Mt. Hood's History. Fort Deposit was the first Self-Storage facility in Oregon. In the winter of 1845-46 Sam Barlow and wagon train members built a log house at Summit Meadows. They stored provisions and wagons on this Barlow Trail segment of the Oregon Trail. Later, when the snows had melted on Mt. Hood they brought them on the Oregon City.


Samuel K, Barlow was a leader of an Oregon Trail wagon train - destination the Willamette Valley. He was from Kentucky, 51 years old and had a family of grown children who came with him and his wife, Susanah Lee Barlow. When the wagon train reached The Dalles, Barlow learned that the Hudson Bay Company shuttle boats were not available to float the Columbia River. He inquired about a land route over the Cascades, but was told it was impossible to take wagons over the mountains. He then made his claim that "God never made a mountain but he made a way for a man to go over or around it." He proposed to find a way for his party to blaze a road south of Mt. Hood.


In late September, Barlow, and his friend William Rector and other families totaling 19 adults and several children packed their goods into seven wagons. Their dogs help drive livestock, probably following an ancient trail as their route journeyed through the towns of Boyd, Dufur and down into Tygh Valley. Wagon train members made camp while Barlow and Rector rode on to find a possible route west.

While the scouts were away, wagon train leader Joel Palmer with fifteen families and twenty-three wagons joined up with Barlow's Train. The decision was made to send surplus cattle over the trail north of Mt. Hood into the valley. Several men returned to The Dalles to buy food and several men remained to secure the camp from the Tygh Indians who were nearby. Other men began making a road.


Vera Martin Lynch, in her book Free Land for free Men A Story of Clackamas County: tells us" Further scouting for a road made the men realize that to find a way before winter through the labyrinth of ridges and gullies would be impossible. Palmer recommended building a cabin to store their goods so that they could proceed to Oregon City by horseback. His judgment prevailed and the plan took shape on Barlow Creek just beyond Summit Meadows. They called it Fort Deposit!

After winter camp was arranged Barlow and Rector started westward on horseback. They wound up on foot and were found by Phillip Foster's sons in the woods near Foster Farm. When they returned to Fort Deposit Mrs. Rector was too ill to travel through the mountains so they returned to The Dalles and rafted down the Columbia. Vera Martin Lynch tells us "the others struggled out of the mountains on horseback. The Barlows and Caplingers were last to leave the fort. William Berry remained through the winter to guard the property."

William Berry, William Barlow, Samuel's son, and John M. Bacon volunteered to remain at Fort Deposit with the wagons. But, because provisions were limited, Berry consented to remain at Fort Deposit alone. He received $10 per wagon for his services. William Barlow came back later from Oregon City with supplies and stayed the remainder of the winter.

CLICK HERE to read more about the history of The Barlow Trail.