Columbia County’s segment of Lyons Ferry Road follows closely the original military road as surveyed and built by Lt. John Mullan. “Mullan Road” was the first wagon road to cross the Rocky Mountains to the Inland of the Pacific Northwest. It was built by U.S. Army troops under the command of Lt. John Mullan, between the spring of 1859 and summer 1860 and traversed from Fort Benton at the navigational head of the Missouri River (being once farthest inland port in the world), through the present site of the City of Walla Walla, then west to ‘old’ Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River at Wallula Gap near the mouth of the Walla Walla River.
Modern Lyon’s Ferry Road accesses the middle of Walla Walla County at State Road 124 and intersects with another Major Rural Collector coming from the south and the City of Walla Walla.
Lyons Ferry Road provides access to Lyons Ferry State Park, Palouse Falls State Park (The State’s official Waterfall) for boating, fishing, access to millions of bushels of wheat from the Lyon’s Ferry Grain Barge Terminal and for the new “Columbia Pulp” processing plant at Lyons Ferry near Starbuck.
The old road was narrow, steep, lacked guardrail for protecting long drops off the edge. The road crossed the UP train tracks at a nearly 90 degree curve, which experienced at least one fatality. If one Googled the shortest way from either the Tri-Cities or Walla Walla to Lewiston, Idaho the result would be Lyons Ferry Road. This became very apparent when the county closed the road during construction. The finished reconstructed roadway is a wider, smoother, and much safer road.
The new roadway will continue as an important part of infrastructure in the new 'Columbia Pulp' truck haul route.