The Dalles was named by fur trappers for the French word for gutter. Here emigrants floated down the Columbia River in rafts through the stony river gorge.
The passage, with emigrants and their wagons crowded onto a small wooden raft, was often perilous. As N.M. Bogart described in 1843, "When trying to pass some of the Cascades their frail craft would get caught in one of the many whirlpools, the water dashing over them, and drenching them through and through."
The Barlow Toll Road opened in 1845, offering emigrants an alternative to the Columbia River route to Oregon City. The wagon ride along the toll road took a long route around Mount Hood, but it was a much safer method than rafting.