Snow Job: Plowing the historic McKenzie Pass Highway

Snow Job: Plowing the historic McKenzie Pass Highway

EUGENE, Ore. - Snow closes Oregon Highway 242 over McKenzie Pass each winter.

Before the road opens to traffic again, likely in June, Oregon DOT workers spend an hour per mile removing snow.

For a story set to air Tuesday, May 6, Chris Liedle and Loren Ruark from KVAL News tagged along with a plow crew for a firsthand taste of what it takes to thaw out a mountain road in the spring.

The McKenzie Pass route dates back to 1862. The road was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

The Oregon State Highway Commission improved the original wagon road in 1917.

From 1921 to 1924, the Forest Service and the US Bureau of Public Roads in Oregon designed improvements to the road to encourage tourism by offering motorists sweeping views of forests and mountain and volcanic vistas from McKenzie Pass as they travelled through National Forest lands.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the Dee Wright Observatory in 1935 to provide outstanding views of mountains and volcanoes, still a popular attraction more than 75 years later.

The route climbs through the Oregon Cascades, passing within yards of both the Mount Washington and Three Sisters wilderness areas.