By Marcy Stamper
Methow Valley news 

Route more than a century in the making


Last updated 9/23/2022 at 11:47am

Courtesy Shafer Museum, Charles McCallum Collection

One of the earliest routes considered for the highway would have gone over Cascade Pass to Stehekin and the Twisp River, but the terrain proved too steep.

Even before the North Cascades Scenic Highway opened on Sept. 2, 1972, after 13 years of actual construction and many more of surveying, the road had been the dream of entrepreneurially minded visionaries for a century.

"[The opening of the highway] may well have been the final great break-through in the western movement that had been surging against the last Pacific Coast barrier since emigrant days," wrote Charles Kerr in a history of the highway published in 1972 in Okanogan County Heritage, the journal of the Okanogan County Historical Society.

For people accustomed to awe-inspiring views of the Liberty Bell and Early Winters spires, waterfalls and aquamarine reservoirs, it can be hard to imagine another route through the Cascades. But in the hundred years of petitioning for a northern road across the mountains, backers and engineers considered half a dozen routes.

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