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Oregon Route 36


Twisting its way far through the Coast Ranges and along the Siuslaw River (among other bodies of water) between Mapleton and Junction City, Oregon is Oregon Route 36, also known as the Mapleton-Junction City Highway. For much of its length of 51.58 miles, OR 36 is a quiet, winding road, weaving its way through logging country, farmland, and small communities across Lane County, Oregon. The highway passes through places on its way between OR 126 and OR 99, such as Swisshome, Deadwood, and Triangle Lake before reaching the Willamette Valley. OR 36 also comprised part of the routing for former US 28 west of Eugene. Before modern-day OR 126 was built west of Eugene, what is now OR 36 between Brickerville and Junction City was part of the way to travel between Eugene and the Oregon Coast. 

I found OR 36 to be a quiet, enjoyable drive going through an often overlooked area of the Coast Ranges. I also found a few surprises along the way which were interesting and helped tell the story of the life and the times along the highway. I took the highway going east from Mapleton to Junction City.

OR 36 begins in Mapleton, named for its bigleaf maple trees.

Early on, you'll find that OR 36 goes through some pretty countryside.

OR 36 can be a pretty narrow road, as it is sandwiched between the hills of the Coast Ranges, the Siuslaw River and a railroad (I believe the rail line is part of the Southern Pacific Railroad).

I took my drive in March, but I'm guessing that when leaves are on the trees, it provides a fun canopy to drive under.

OR 36 is hugging the real estate between the Siuslaw River and the railroad again.

A beehive burner found just west of Swisshome. A wood waste burner, known as a teepee burner or wigwam burner in the United States and a beehive burner in Canada. Wood waste burners went out of general use in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s, and are prohibited from operation in Oregon. Wood waste used to dispose of waste wood in logging yards and sawdust from sawmills by incineration, but due to creating poor air quality, their use has fallen out of fashion. You can still find intact wood waste burners here and there.

Entering Swisshome.

Railroad bridge over the Siuslaw River.

Continuing east, we have a sign showing distances to Triangle Lake and Junction City. Triangle Lake is roughly the halfway point of OR 36.

Continuing east, OR 36 remains a quiet country drive.

Siuslaw River on the right.

Crossing the Indian Creek at Indiola.

At times, OR 36 felt narrower than some country roads. This was one of those times.

Entering Deadwood. On the other side of Deadwood is Deadwood Creek Road, which you can take to the Deadwood Covered Bridge a few miles away.

Crossing the Siuslaw River. In Deadwood, the Siuslaw River veers away from OR 36, and the road starts following Lake Creek instead.

I just liked this photo along with the mix of deciduous and evergreen trees in the background.

As we get past Deadwood, we encounter some pastures for a change.

The Nelson Mountain Covered Bridge (or Lake Creek Covered Bridge) is just off of OR 36 on Nelson Mountain Road near Deadwood. The 105 foot long covered bridge was built in 1928 at a cost of $3,155.

The pastures are a bit of a contrast to the riverside drive that OR 36 followed west of Deadwood.

Crossing Greenleaf Creek. The community of Greenleaf is actually west of Greenleaf Creek.

Now we get into the twisting curves again.

A nice rock wall to our left as well.

That might be Triangle Lake in the distance.

Turn right to go to Triangle Lake Park, which is a Lane County park with a small beach on the lake.

Driving along Triangle Lake.

The Sumich Round Barn along OR 36 in Blachly, Oregon. While the round barn is in disrepair now, this particular barn has an unique design for barns in the state of Oregon, and was built between 1946 and 1949.

Continuing east on OR 36 through the Lake Creek Valley.

But we are starting to climb through the eastern stretches of the Coast Ranges and towards the Willamette Valley.

OR 36 tops off at just under 1,100 feet in elevation.

Descending towards Low Pass and the Long Tom River.

Back to pastures mixed in with trees.

The road to Noti will take you to OR 126.

The curiously named Poodle Creek Road is to your right.

OR 36 really starts to straighten out east from here.

As OR 36 descends into the Willamette Valley, we have reached the communities of Goldson and Cheshire.

The Territorial Highway is actually a long north-south road, going from OR 99W in Monroe south to Curtin, near the intersection of I-5 and OR 38.

But closer by locations along the Territorial Highway are Elmira and Veneta, both around where the road meets OR 126.

OR 36 may be the way to go if you're headed towards parts of Eugene. Upon looking at a map, OR 36 to OR 99 is a fairly direct way to get to Eugene from places like Cheshire and Junction City.

Speaking of Cheshire, Oregon.

Once we pass Cheshire, we get back into the farm country of the Willamette Valley.

The foothills of the Cascades are off to the distance, on the other side of I-5.

Approaching OR 99 and the end of our journey along OR 36.

At OR 99, you have options at OR 36's eastern end. You can go north to Junction City and then continue on OR 99E or OR 99W, or venture south to Eugene, which is one of Oregon's largest cities.

How to Get There:

Sources and Links:
Motorcycle Roads Northwest - Oregon State Route 36 “Mapleton-Junction City Highway”
US - End of US Highway 28
ORoads - US Route 28
Oregon Department of Transportation - 2020 Oregon Mileage Report (PDF)
Ride With GPS - Eugene-Florence One Way


Vizier said…
Also minorly of note is that one of the flight paths into Eugene Airport flies relatively low over OR-36 about a mile or two west of the Eastern terminus. Whenever flying into Eugene, even from the South, planes will usually go past the airport and loop back, making a low approach over Junction City and OR36.

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