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Barlow Trail Roadhouse To Air on “Destination Oregon”

By Amber Ford

Barlow Trail Roadhouse To Air on “Destination Oregon”

While the Mt. Hood corridor is known for its historical highways, hillsides, natural beauty and legendary ski resorts, the old log buildings nestled along highway 26 hold some of the more unique and timeless stories associated with this beautiful area. Many of these historical buildings were used to host and house miners, loggers and those who helped build and create our current highway. From the Zigzag Inn to The Barlow Trail Roadhouse, history enthusiasts flock to these locations for a glimpse into what life was like long before the Mt. Hood National Forest became the popular tourist destination it is today.

These landmarks and buildings have become so fascinating that many travel media outlets have reached out to business owners, like Rick Exley of The Barlow Trail Roadhouse, for interviews that reflect upon the rich history and culture that has shaped their businesses over the years. On Friday, March 1st, Exley met with the production crew of “Destination Oregon,” (a media group out of Bend, Oregon) for an interview addressing the history of his building and restaurant for their television program.

“This wasn’t my first interview about my restaurant,” Exley said. Having owned The Barlow Trail Roadhouse for 20 years, Exley is no stranger to interviews, articles and programs focusing on the history and legends that have surrounded not only his historical building, but the Mt. Hood Villages as a whole. “The producer met me early that morning and we discussed a lot of the history of the building as well as our menu and some of the local food favorites,” Exley said.

According to Exley, many of these travel media outlets are interested in the stories associated with buildings such as his. Constructed in 1925, the current Barlow Trail Roadhouse once served as a general store for loggers and miners working in the area and by 1926 became a restaurant with a bordello operating on the second floor. Exley claims that when the city of Portland began to crack down on illegal prostitution, many of those in the industry relocated to places like the Mt. Hood Villages, looking for clients among the crews stationed here while building the current highway.

While brothels and booze may primarily comprise the historical lure, other unique mysteries also reside within the walls of the Barlow Trail Roadhouse. According to Exley it’s not just his staff and patrons that can be seen and heard throughout the building, but ghosts of residents past who also call The Barlow Trail Roadhouse home. Exley claims that over the 20 years he has owned the restaurant, he and his staff have witnessed everything from apparitions to items flying off the walls and shelves. “I’ve seen a television come flying off the wall and shortly after that happened I heard pots and pans being knocked over in the storage closet while no one was in there,” Exley said. Legends of these mysterious beings have become so popular that several paranormal investigative teams and shows have set up cameras and other recording devices to catch what Exley claims has been haunting his restaurant for decades. “One of our resident ghosts, Jean, has her own booth that she regularly sits at and has been recorded by one of the paranormal teams as saying ‘don’t touch me.’” Exley added.

The official air date for the episode on Destination Oregon is yet to be determined but those interested in more on the history of The Barlow Trail Restaurant and the interview with Destination Oregon can visit

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