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Oregon State Route 38



Following the Umpqua River for the clear majority of its travels as a highway, Oregon State Route 38 connects US 101 at Reedsport, Oregon with communities such as Elkton and Drain, and eventually I-5 along its 56.5 mile journey. The Umpqua River Scenic Byway joins OR 38 from Reedsport to Elkton, then parting ways with OR 138 as it makes its way to Roseburg. OR 38 makes its way through lush forests, riverside vistas and even an elk refuge. I tend to find OR 38 as one of the faster and straighter highways that I've taken between I-5 and the Oregon Coast, as I find that there's a mixed bag as far as the state routes are concerned in terms of how the roads were engineered through the Coast Ranges. The following photos are from a collection of photographs I took during a trip in September 2009 after spending the day visiting the Oregon Coast from Newport to Coos Bay, visiting Cape Perpetua and the Oregon Dunes on the way.

OR 38 is part of the Umpqua River Scenic Byway from Reedsport to Elkton, then the scenic byway follows OR 138 to Roseburg.

One of many wood carvings that can be found around Reedsport. Founded in 1919, the town of Reedsport is considered to be the gateway to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.

One of two swing bridges that cross the Umpqua River in Reedsport. This bridge is for a railroad line.

In the distance is the Umpqua River Bridge on US 101. One of many Conde McCullough designed bridges that can be found around Oregon, this bridge over the Umpqua River was built in 1936.

Looking upstream at the Umpqua River from the harbor in Reedsport. The Umpqua River is the largest river between the Columbia River to the north and the Sacramento River to the south.

Totem pole carving at the Umpqua Discovery Center in Reedsport.

I thought that this building in Reedsport was pretty neat. Then it was time to hit the road again.

Heading east on OR 38 just east of Reedsport. The Umpqua River is to our left and lush forests are all around.

But to our right is the O.H. Hinsdale Interpretive Center and the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. There is a herd of Roosevelt elk that makes its home here year-round.



Crossing the Dean Creek at its confluence with the Umpqua River.

More Umpqua River to your left.

This is a part of the drive which I find to be quite scenic and peaceful.


A cliff to the right of the eastbound lane.

Scottsburg Bridge over the Umpqua River, built in 1929. This bridge will soon be replaced with a wider bridge over the river. The replacement bridge is expected to open in 2022.

Scottsburg, Oregon, about 20 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean along the Umpqua River.

Back to the open road, with a passing lane thrown in for good measure.

Probably cows grazing instead of elk this time.

I just like how the two tall evergreen trees are framing the road in this shot.

An old barn is in view as we continue east towards the next town.


Entering Elkton.

OR 38 intersects with OR 138, which heads to Roseburg and Crater Lake. The Umpqua River also parts ways with OR 38 in Elkton.

But we soldier on, heading eastbound towards Drain.


OR 38 crosses the Elk Creek here.

An approaching tunnel through the hill is a nice surprise.

After crossing the tunnel, a mix of trees and pasture land surrounds the highway.


Watch out for road hazards!

In 1997, the stretch of OR 38 between Drain and Reedsport was designated the "Jason Boe Corridor". Jason Boe was an optomerist from Reedsport who also served in the Oregon State Senate.

Entering Drain, named for its first mayor and has a burgeoning timber industry.

OR 99 joins OR 38 in Drain, although you wouldn't know it from the above sign. The two highways run concurrently from Drain to I-5 in Anlauf.

A wigwam burner can be found to the right of the highway. Wigwam burners, also known as tepee burner or beehive burner, are steel structures used in logging mills to dispose of waste wood and sawdust. Wigwam burners were once commonplace at lumber mills in throughout the Pacific Northwest, but have since been outlawed. Once numbering in the thousands, only a few wigwam burners remain.

Signage for the concurrency of OR 38 and OR 99 was inconsistent in 2009. A recent check of Google Street View showed OR 38 shields predominately.

OR 38 follows the historic route of the Applegate Trail here. The Applegate Trail was a southern alternative to the Oregon Trail, starting in Rickreall in Polk County, Oregon, then working its way south through southern Oregon, northern California and into Nevada to meet up with the California Trail.


Last time I checked, OR 99 was a north-south route, plus no mention of OR 38.

OR 38 ends at I-5. Continue on I-5 north to go to Cottage Grove, Eugene, Salem and Portland.


Sources and Links:
Mile by Mile - Oregon State # 38 Highway Guide
Travel Oregon - Umpqua River Scenic Byway
The Bandon Guide - How to Get Here

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