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  1. Vigilante Trail In 1915, Yellowstone National Park was opened for automobile traffic, and in the first 10 days, 321 cars entered the park; 151 at the west entrance, 86 at the north entrance, 83 at the east entrance and 1 car entered at the south entrance. Vacationers who were traveling from the Pacific Northwest on the Yellowstone Trail could use a cut-off road southeast of Butte, Montana, which was the shortest and most direct route to the west entrance of the park. This cut-off road was also a shorter distance than the main route to Livingston and the north entrance to the park at Gardiner that was promoted by the YTA. To capitalize and to increase the traffic on this cut-off, the commercial interests of Butte organized a meeting on October 22, 1919, where 250 citizens from Silver Bow, Jefferson and Madison counties attended. The result of the meeting was the formation of the Vigilante Trail Association. The route was touted as a road, where almost every mile was the scene of a robbery, murder or hanging. The trail began about 20 miles southeast of Butte at the junction of the Yellowstone Trail, at Cedar Ridge, and ran through the towns of; Twin Bridges, Sheridan, Nevada City, Virginia City, Ennis and terminated at the west entrance to Yellowstone Park. The sign adopted for the route was a circle painted with red, white and blue stripes and included the mystic figures, "3-7-77." which was used by the Vigilantes to warn the criminals that their presence in the country was no longer desirable. Near this junction of the two trails was the reputed spot where Sacagawea was captured by a hostile tribe and had to be rescued from her captors. Years later, she guided Lewis and Clark up the Jefferson River and they passed near the spot where she had been taken. The trail ran on the old Ruby Valley Road through the historic gold mining district, of Alder Gulch and Virginia City. Virginia City is located 7 miles west of Alder Gulch and is one of the oldest settlements in the West. In the 1860s, it was the temporary home for thousands of placer miners. This was a lawless place, where robbery and murder were the order of the day. The Road Agents, as the organized desperadoes were called, had control of the sheriff and the justice of the peace, and the good citizens were left without any protection for their rights, their property or their lives. It all began with the discovery of gold on Grasshopper Creek near Bannack and at Alder Gulch near Virginia City in the spring of 1862. Word of the discovery reached the masses by the summer of 1863, which triggered a stampede of thousands of prospectors rushing to the region. Among the later arrivals were desperadoes and outlaws, who scenting the prey from afar, flew like vultures to the carcass. From the west came a gang of thieves who would become the "Road Agents" and would terrorize and rob people who were traveling between Virginia City and Bannack. Between these two mining camps, a correspondence was kept and the roads throughout the territory were under constant surveillance of the agents. They devised a system that would mark the horses, men and coaches that were worthy of robbing, and that information would be passed to the highwaymen in time before their victims could escape. The road agents, who were also known as the “Innocents,” levied toll on every traveler by robbing and murdering with the greatest impunity. At every turn from Bannack to Virginia City, they held up stages, pack trains and individual miners, killing those who resisted, and beat those who had nothing. So complete their sway, so stern their rule, more than 200 lives were lost along that road. Sheriff Henry Plummer was the chief and everyone knew it. He and some of his men eventually were hung at Bannack in 1864. In 1870, the first chief justice of Montana Territory Hezekiah L. Hosmer had said; "The attraction brought those who came to work and those who came to profit off the labor of others. Had the convicts been set free by the approach of Napoleon, on the condition they burn Moscow, and had instead been thrown upon these new settlements, it could not have been worse than it was with the crowd that entered and took control of Bannack and Virginia City in 1862 and 1863.” If a man brought suit to recover a stolen horse, he would be apt to meet in court with a band of dishonest witnesses who would swear that the contested property belonged to the thief. Thus the man was not only robbed of his property but had to pay the expenses of the suit as well. Gambling and wild women were the main features of every mining camp and these activities were another place for the miners to lose their money. Ladies of the evening plied their trade in the open daylight and the brothels were the lures where many a man was entrapped for robbery and murder. Dance houses sprang up and everyone who visited these establishments were in some way relieved of the money they brought with them. Many good men who dared to show any signs of disgust were shot down by a member of the gang at the first opportunity. The headquarters of these desperadoes was at the Daley ranch otherwise known as the “Robbers’ Roost.” The old inn was located beside the road 4 miles southeast of Sheridan. Of all the villains and criminals who rested at the roost, the most renowned and despised of them all was George Ives, a ruthless servant of the devil. This state of affairs could not go on forever. All of the friends of justice were relentlessly, threatened and watched by the agents. Things began to change when Virginia City and Nevada City formed a Vigilante Committee. The committee was approved and supported by all those who had anything to lose, or who thought their lives were at risk. Merchants, miners, mechanics and professional men alike joined in the movement until, within an incredibly short space of time, the Road Agents were in a state of constant fear George Ives was the first victim of the newly formed vigilante committee. They captured him not far from Robbers’ Roost. Ives was transported to Nevada City where they put him on trial. Ives begged to be taken to Virginia City claiming that the populace of the lower town must, be prejudiced against him, for he had once killed a dog that had bit him while he was there. He was loaded with logging chains, hauled into court and on December 21, 1863, he was hanged. His companions in crime, Red Yager and G. W Brown, the bartender at the Robbers' Roost, were rounded up and hanged within the next two weeks. The Vigilantes, now warmed up to their work, roamed up and down the trail, seeking desperadoes to devour. They traveled south to Bannack where they hanged Sheriff Plummer and his two deputies, Ray and Stilson. They then rode over the pass to Deer Lodge and down to Hellgate, and on their way they hanged a half dozen assorted thieves and highwaymen. In all they executed extreme justice on 32 desperadoes. They left one poor soul dangling from a tree that had the governor’s pardon. They hanged him with all of the official seals and ribbons sticking out of his pants pockets. The Vigilantes soon rid Montana of the Road Agents and were the saviors of Montana. On July 9, 1922, Frank Bell had just returned from a trip to Yellowstone Park and reported that the Vigilante Trail is the best road leading to the park. "The Vigilante Trail is a boulevard all the way," said Mr. Bell "It's no trick at all to leave Butte early in the morning and make the west Yellowstone entrance to the park the same day. That's a jump of about 200 miles, but with the excellent roads it is not a tiresome drive.” “I am sorry to state that the very opposite is true of the Yellowstone Trail. This transcontinental road is in very bad condition, and its main artery, the section on which the Yellowstone Trail association makes its effort to concentrate all travel from Livingston to Gardiner is a disgrace to any trail association and to the counties which are supposed to take care of the trail.” “The road between Livingston and Gardiner is treacherously rough, badly cared for and in many stretches should be resurveyed before it can properly be designated as a road inviting the travel of all the country.” The day Mr. Bell left Butte, he met a tourist who wanted to go to Yellowstone Park via the Yellowstone Trail through Bozeman and Livingston. He had by mistake turned onto the cutoff road for the Vigilante Trail at the top of Cedar ridge. Bell told him he could get to the park that way and it was shorter, but he did not know the condition of the road. They both traveled all the way to West Yellowstone and before they got there, the tourist thanked Bell for putting him on the best road he had traveled for many miles. Today a trip from Butte to West Yellowstone on the modern highway will take you about 2 hours and 24 minutes and a trip from Butte to Gardiner will take you about 2 hours and 28 minutes, a 4 minute difference. Google Map https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=16FNHbdE1MEM2B_P9_ZevlrGu0mIsbcOj&usp=sharing
    2 points
  2. Midway Park was once a campground which included an old Signal gas station. The park was located on top of Easton Hill about 12 miles east of Snoqualmie Pass and about 5 miles west of Easton. This is where the old 1915 highway diverged from the 1927 highway. Once automobiles could make it over the pass without refueling, the need for this gas station faded. It is unknown when it was first established, although it is said that the building was still there in 1952. Happy Trails Curt
    2 points
  3. Hi Becky, No problem on the delay…… It is kind of you to reply!! I have plenty to keep me out of trouble in any event. BTW, our old friend Denny Gibson was in the Puget Sound area a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great time recalling our Forum adventures. I’ll keep an eye out for any replies to my Forum inquiry. I celebrated my 81st in mid July and I want to tell you that American Road Magazine (I was a charter subscriber, pre publication!), you folks, and the many friends I made over my 14 years (so far) on the Forum were life altering. Truly. I have never tried to count the many many road adventures prompted and encouraged by American Road. It must run into the hundreds, a rich and treasured part of my golden years. I have more in the future, but I owe the Repps enormous gratitude now. My road trips have engaged, entertained, educated, and enlarged my perspectives. I have met and gotten to know a wide range of my countrymen and country women, in towns and villages spread across America. Images and appreciations that began in my grammar school readers came to life as I met cowboys, small town mayors, loggers and fishermen, college professors and waitresses and shared their pride in their community and an interest in what was down the road. I have spent many nights in historic hotels, learned the real history of real people, taken tens of thousands of photographs (some enjoyed by others), written volumes (some that has been read), met wonderful people, and much much more…...thanks to a post card I got years ago about a new magazine that would deal with the Two Lane Roads of America. My great appreciation goes to you folks for many great years of wonderful road trips, with more to come! David
    2 points
  4. Becky, Thanks for the encouragement! I have nothing against Facebook, but you are absolutely correct. I can certainly contribute to the Forum. As you might suppose I have tons of road trip experiences over a 60 year period. I would enjoy putting a few stories together with photos. But by and large they will not be too current. I’ll give a shot, and if it appeals. Here are a couple of ideas. Any preferences? I have a stack of Ford Times magazine from the late 40’s. This was the peak of post WWII road travel, when we could again get on the road. I could probably pull something together from them. We took a road trip a few weeks ago to a fishing port on the Washington coast….boats, lighthouse, etc. As you know I have tons of road maps, Automobile Blue Books, Hobbs Grade and Surface Guide, from 100 years ago, etc etc. I can always do a piece on something about almost anywhere in America in 1917 or 1920. I am probably the “world expert” on the National Parks Highway, and no slouch on the Yellowstone Trail and the Yellowstone Highway. Anyway, that is just a sample. If something might sync with upcoming issues, I’d give it a try as well. Dave Keep the Show on the Road.
    2 points
  5. This is a reply to a friend here, but it may turn into a thread of interest to all. Hutch, Are you still with the red Jeep? Yes, forums have declined in popularity in the face of alternatives like Facebook. I operated a Forum for one of our major auto trails for a while, but when I stopped running it, it was abandoned. No fault, it was mainly used by serious roadies, and that isn’t a huge number. It sounds like you are headed for some of the most spectacular country in America. It has been a couple of years now since I was in Moab, Bluff, Monument Valley. The Arches, Zion, etc etc. I was meeting up with the son and daughter of pioneer trail blazer, Dolf Andrus, who blazed the Monumental Highway in that area. I think if you search the Forum for Monumental Highway or Andrus you may find some potentially rewarding stuff I posted a few years ago to enrich your trip. I threw in below a few of my “scenics” of the area mostly 50 years old, with a couple of new ones. Post some of yours if you have time. I would love to see them. If you intend to spend a little time, I can probably guide you to some interesting sites and road stories in and around Bluff and Monument Valley. And we should share that on the Forum. I am now in my early 80’s and my wife is limited in her travel ability, so I am mostly enjoying my 70 years of slides, movies, videos, stories, maps, and terrific road adventures gathered over the years. We may get another RV she can be comfortable in, but as you would appreciate, it ain’t like a Jeep! Oh, I saw Denny Gibson the other day. He is still the premier roadie!! Dave Keep the Show on the Road!
    1 point
  6. Excellent--love this!
    1 point
  7. Just south of Madera, 1.75 miles south of Ave 12, and 2.1 miles north of Ave 9 (or more specifically at 06-MAD-99-05.7), there lies a pine tree and a palm tree in the median of Highway 99. It has been there since the 1920’s and marks the former halfway point in California. The Palm Tree, a Canary Island Date Palm, represents Southern California and the Pine Tree, a Deodor Cedar, represents Northern California. In 2005, the pine tree fell down but was replaced by Caltrans in 2007 as this is a somewhat historic marker. We, the Historic Highway 99 Association of California, intend to have signs placed in both directions at this location to mark the historic site. While it might not exactly be the “halfway” point in California, it is close enough and has been there since the 1920’s. We are looking to work with local agencies such as the County of Madera, Caltrans District 6, City of Madera, and others to gain support and assistance with this effort. We already have a design for the sign and cost estimates for its fabrication. If you would like to be involved in this project (03-MAD21002), let us know! We can use help either through donations of labor or money. Any donations are likely tax-deductible as we are a 501c3 organization.
    1 point
  8. We have some great news! After speaking with officials with the City of Madera, they have agreed to post our Historic Route signs along Gateway Drive. This is the first new signage we will be placing, as Calexico was replacing existing signage. Getting approval in Madera is a significant accomplishment for us and I look forward to many more in the future. We don't have a date yet for the installation but we anticipate it within the next couple months. I want to thank Andrew Maximous, the City of Madera, and all our members and donors for helping make this happen. https://historic99.org/historic-route-signs-madera/
    1 point
  9. I wanted to thank the staff of American Road Magazine and Becky Repp for the inclusion of the Historic Highway 99 Association of California in the most recent American Road magazine. We are small, but we are growing. We have members now in CA, OR, WA, and BC. We are working on getting historic route signage up in various cities. We also host monthly meetings with presentations on various topics about US 99. In August, we had a representative from Mentryville, an old oil boom town just west of Santa Clarita and the birthplace of California oil, talk about its history. Things are moving, even if slowly. There is much to do. Thank you again for including us! We really appreciate it and intend to return the favor.
    1 point
  10. Hi everyone. II hope you are doing well. apologize for being MIA. We've been dealing with flooding and short staffing due to Covid issues, etc. I was just taking a quick peek on the Forum and saw this string. Dave, I apologize for not responding to your message: Here are a couple of ideas. Any preferences? I have a stack of Ford Times magazine from the late 40’s. This was the peak of post WWII road travel, when we could again get on the road. I could probably pull something together from them. We took a road trip a few weeks ago to a fishing port on the Washington coast….boats, lighthouse, etc. As you know I have tons of road maps, Automobile Blue Books, Hobbs Grade and Surface Guide, from 100 years ago, etc etc. I can always do a piece on something about almost anywhere in America in 1917 or 1920. I am probably the “world expert” on the National Parks Highway, and no slouch on the Yellowstone Trail and the Yellowstone Highway. Anyway, that is just a sample. If something might sync with upcoming issues, I’d give it a try as well. Truthfully Dave, I would be interested in any and all of the subjects. But I'd like to hear what everyone else wants to read about. Preferences anyone?
    1 point
  11. * Been another long while since I have visited. Hope everyone is well. Posting now because I am excited to share some news! OC,SH CRUISE DAYS & NIGHTS Start July 11 & July 14 respectively @ Mozzafiato along historic US 20 in Elgin IL. Official announcement, with a personal note about US 20: https://www.oldcarsstronghearts.com/2021/07/06/announcing-cruise-days-nights/ Website page with full details (dates, times, etc), plus a list of events including at least 1 in every U.S. state: https://www.oldcarsstronghearts.com/ocsh-cruise-nights/ Will you join us? IN OTHER NEWS: Still researching options for a new radio show home, but details of my past shows, including some you can still hear online, are here: https://www.cdshowcase.com/radio-show-history/ Also, 02/20/2021, I posted a vent-rant, which includes some rather personal news, on Facebook. The status is probably similar to the thought-provoking threads I used to post on the boards, if anyone remembers those. Anyway, I decided to make the status public, so check it out if you are interested in a discussion. Cort, pig & cow valves with pacemaker 2003 MGM LS + 1981 cmc SC; need 1975 Chrysler Cordoba "Getting there is half the fun" | The Muppets, Kermit & Fozzie | 'Movin' Right Along'
    1 point
  12. Still kicking here. You should find a way to post that video. I'd certainly love to see it. I've been working on adding more videos to our YouTube channel. Our Historic Highway 99 Association of California is now a 501(c)3 and things are slowly moving along.
    1 point
  13. Glad to see there is still life on here! Been many years since I posted anything. I was just looking at the National Road U.S. 40 Forum and the old brick road road in Norwich, Ohio. In 2017 our Ohio/W Penn Region of the Dodge Brothers Club hosted a meet in Cambridge with side trips. One trip was to go across the brick road in Norwich with our cars. I have a 2.5 mb video of a 1926 Dodge Brothers touring car driving most of the length of that section. Les
    1 point
  14. Good to hear from all of you. Maybe this pandemic can prompt us to exchange more information about our past and future road trips on the Forum again. The short one and two sentence posts on Facebook and Twitter just aren't very fulfilling.
    1 point
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