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Keep the Show on the Road!

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Keep the Show on the Road! last won the day on February 13 2017

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  1. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Richfield Oil Eagle

    On my travels recently in Central Oregon I located and visited an abandoned town with a store and Richfield Oil dealer. As is always the case, the store windows are smoked with age and the interior is full of assorted junk. Wonderful because I don’t really appreciate or enjoy restorations in most cases, and because I know the place is intact. Is the eagle I photographed through the window a version of the famous Richfield Eagle? I know of two versions of the eagle. This one is similar to one of them which has spread wings, but the neck of this cast is not elongated. So for you service station pros, any thoughts? Dave Keep the Show on the Road
  2. Bend and Central Oregon have grown enormously in the past several years, but many historical roads have survived the growth. I made 8mm movies (1967) of Bend when I lived there over 50 years ago, and one is posted here. But this new post and the ones that I hope to follow deal with the roadways of Central Oregon much longer ago, in about 1910. We are going to drive where the first automobilists drove at the turn of the last century. We will travel sections of the old California Banff Bee Line highway, and drive in the tracks of the first ever transcontinental auto race! We may visit a stage station or two, and provide some vintage road maps from the period for your perusal and interest. I am posting this as an introduction. The story will evolve as I re-explore the old roads, and I will try to keep you posted as I learn more. But here I want to to provide a quick and perhaps interesting insight into the development of roads and automobile travel in and around Bend, Prineville, Redmond, Madras, and into the surrounding area including Shaniko, Maupin, Dufur, and several tiny villages in what is called Central Oregon.. When I finish I hope you will be encouraged to drive the roads and see sights you might otherwise miss. In 1900 the first railroad tracks reached the outskirts of Central Oregon, ending in Shaniko, a little over 80 miles north of Bend on our modern roads.. This “end of the line” was the beginning point for transportation into Central Oregon. Virtually all goods and people coming or going, went through Shaniko. The other way to go was over the high Cascades or on a very long steamer and overland ride via The Dalles, and believe me, a rail coach was much preferred! So freight wagons and people converged on Shaniko, and wagons pulled by teams of horses left and returned to Shaniko. It so happened that the area around Bend was also being promoted as the new mecca for agriculture, with irrigation projects and dry land farming offering the promise of a prosperous future for those who got there first. It was not long before eager land developers and boosters realized that transporting boomers, newcomers, and land seekers in an automobile beat a long, slow, and muddy or dusty ride in a horse and buggy. And a ride in an automobile was a novelty for many in and of itself. Practically overnight, between 1909 and 1911 the automobile took over Central Oregon roads. According to the Prineville newspaper, in 1909 there were less than half a dozen auto stages operating in Central Oregon, and by 1910 there were 35, and as many as 50 automobiles a day were on the roads!! Unlike other areas where long distance road travel by automobiles grew out of a tourist and recreational interest, in Central Oregon the impetus was land, not primarily fun and “seeing the sights.” My copy of the Weekly Oregonian of June 2, 1910 (above) shows the gathering of the auto stages at Shaniko, and one on the grade between Antelope and Shaniko to or from Prineville and Bend. Note that they competed with the horse drawn freight wagons for passage!! And note the road bed, with several inches of mud, and the chains on the automobiles in Shaniko. Such were the travel conditions when the roads dried out enough for travel in the spring. Ah, the good old days. Finally, the building in the background in Shaniko is the Columbia Southern Hotel, opened in 1901-02. It is still there! As a young man I remember eating there for lunch at the long community table with the retired sheep herders who were the hotel residents. They were a polite lot, but if you didn’t reach fast, you might not get any mashed potatoes from the big red serving bowl. The photo here was taken on my last visit in 2007….my how time flies! I think one aging sign on the side of the Hotel then still advertised “family style” meals. I’ll check if it still is there when I visit. I hope I can make the trip next week, so as they say “Stay tuned.” Dave Keep the Show on the Road!
  3. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Us 99 News?

    Mike, Thanks for the info!! The newspaper uses aggressive push advertising so it was a little hard to stay with the story on my laptop, but it is worth the effort. That section of old 99 is enormously evocative of the 1950s when I used to ride or drive it on occasion….two lanes through rural countryside, across small bridges, and under the overarching branches of roadside trees. Thanks Dave Keep the Show on the Road
  4. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Ice Age Floods Sweep The Land. A Two Lane Road Leads You There!

    Curt, Spectacular!! I enjoyed your Then and Now of entering the Coulee, but I confess that shot with the steam shovel takes the prize!! It is on the curve shown in my photo. Thanks!! Dave
  5. Keep the Show on the Road!

    First Road From Fall City, Wa To Snoqualmie, Wa

    Curt, No one tops you in finding the old roads!! Dave Keep the Show on the Road!!
  6. Keep the Show on the Road!

    American Road Favorite Fifteen Photo Contest

    Sue, Sounds exciting!! The Link does not work. Try (until it is fixed above): http://americanroadmagazine.com/photocontest Dave
  7. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Ice Age Floods Sweep The Land. A Two Lane Road Leads You There!

    32Vid, Thanks! I appreciate the come back! The land forms created by the Ice Age Floods are truly spectacular, and all the more amazing when you appreciate how they were formed. The old Yellowstone Trail and to a lessor extent the National Parks Highway passes by, or very near, many sites, but they were seen as mysterious and unexplained formations. Today the story is still developing, but several experts are on the trail, and many like myself have a growing interest. Thanks again! Dave Keep the Show on the Road
  8. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Ice Age Floods Sweep The Land. A Two Lane Road Leads You There!

    Mike, With your background in Geology you are the expert, and your descriptions are right on. Thanks for the comment! If we get enough interest, I will be filling the story out with more examples. As you know as well as I do, our two lane roads lead us to fantastic locations and discoveries. i will probably be describing more of the gems on the Yellowstone Trail Great Circle Route soon. Dave Keep the Show on the Road!
  9. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Ice Age Floods Sweep The Land. A Two Lane Road Leads You There!

    This is the 1948 picture (looking south) taken on old US10 (Old Vantage Road) as it winds its way down the Frenchman Coulee cliffs to the Columbia River. Beyond the fact that I am in the picture , fans of our two lane heritage should note the line of yellow posts with black caps securing the safety cables. These are still there!!! Seventy years later!! Notice the mighty Columbia before it was dammed. Sand islands and dunes along the shore were characteristic of the River in those days. Another feature. If you look closely you can see the old Vantage high bridge, long ago replaced by a new interstate bridge a mile south. But the old bridge lives on. It is now the high bridge at the Lyons Ferry crossing of the Snake River on the Yellowstone Trail, shown in the third photo, which by the way is on the route to Palouse falls, also a major site of the Ice Age Floods. More on that in another post. The second photo was taken almost 70 years later. I have aged a bit, but the cliffs are still the same. The bridge is gone and the mighty Columbia is now dammed. But the 1940’s posts are still there minus their paint job!!! Odds are they will outlast me . If by chance you enjoy base jumping, here is a video of a jump from about where the first photo was taken in the first post. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7c-auqf7ps Keep the Show on the Road! Dave
  10. Many years past, but just a moment ago in the story of our planet, vast floods were repeatedly unleashed from a lake with a volume as great as Lakes Erie and Ontario combined!! The torrents scoured the landscape and created massive waterfalls, ten times greater than Niagara. The destruction to the landscape was so massive that it was not understood until the 1930’s , despite the fact that The Yellowstone Trail and the National Parks Highway wound across and through the enormous canyons, sheer cliffs, and vast scab lands. I refer to the Ice Age Floods of about 13-15,0000 years ago, which left their mark across three states (Montana, Idaho, and Washington) on a scale so large its full extent can only really be seen from 30,000 feet in the air or from a satellite.. But you can get up close and personal on our two lane roads, and marvel at land forms so awe inspiring you will be astounded that water could be the cause. In fact it took most of 100 years of speculation and study for humans to understand and appreciate what they were seeing. That is one of the stories I want to tell here later, but for now I want to simply introduce you to some of the roadside scenery to peak your interest. Understanding will follow. This example is little known today, but was a familiar sight in my youth. Turn off at exit 143 (Silica Road) on Interstate 90 in my home state of Washington. You will either make the turn while heading east after climbing out of the sheer walled Columbia River canyon filled side to side with water backed up by the Wanapum Dam, or headed west past George, Washington (clever name ?!) after crossing miles of rich irrigated farmland. From the interstate travel northward on Silica and then turn west on the old Vantage Road. (See map below) For old roadies like myself, this is a road with a great history. Again I will elaborate on that later. But now lets visit the site of a cataclysm. Almost immediately you start to drop into a deep and massive canyon with sheer cliffs on each side. Note the weathered wooden safety guards with their steel cables, typical of the 1940’s when my family first wound our way down this cliff face in our two tone green 1941 Chevrolet Coupe. The road is almost abandoned today except for rock climbers and boaters headed for the River You are dropping into Frenchman Coulee. Stop at a pullout. If you are squeamish about heights, park below the cliff face on the left. Walk to the edge of the canyon on the right, just a few feet away. Now imagine this in your mind’s eye if you can. A torrent of water 300 feet deep and traveling at 80 miles an hour is bearing down on you and over the cliffs you see across the canyon. Deeper than the height of the cliffs you see, as it rushes toward the west it erodes the cliff face toward the upstream side, clawing out massive blocks of solid rock and creating the canyon below. Rocks bigger than houses are tumbling in the torrent. Your perch on the pullout isn’t safe, and in a few moments you are swept away in that flood. Sorry, I should have warned you. But what a view!! The old road followed this paved track, and I remember it well. I even have a photo of myself and my sister taken where the road overlooks the Columbia. In those golden days of yore there was a bridge about a 1.2 miles north of the modern bridge that crossed a much narrower Columbia River. It had massive sand dunes on each side, now buried under water. As a small aside my wife and I ventured down the old road on the other side of the Columbia River where as a boy we had crossed on the old bridge. The old two lane road leads all the way from Ellensburg 29 miles and through a large wind farm with its massive windmills growning in the sky, down to a dead end at the Columbia’s edge. And there to greet us were two Big Horn Sheep! Have you seen any lately on the interstate? Believe it or not, Frenchman Coulee is not the most impressive of the Floods creations, but it is easy to reach from the interstate. Most sites will require ending your dance with 18 wheelers and the charm of rest stops, and leaving behind the beauty of scenery rushing past in a 70 mph blur. Get on the two lane roads. 1. Frenchman Coulee looking west at 47.030393, -119.958240°. Can you spot the pickup truck on the road? Right green dot on # 2 below. 2. Old Vantage Road and Frenchman Coulee. Green dots represent photo sites. 3. The Feathers in Frenchman Coulee. A Flood remnant. 47.028642°, -119.965373° Left green dot on # 2 above. 5. A Big Horn at the old Vantage crossing of the Columbia. 46.957175°, -119.987799° 6. The Extent of the Ice Age Floods If we get some interest, I will continue this tale of the massive Ice Age Floods. And for those who love videos, here are some fantastic aerial views by the pros from the Ice Age Flood Institute Some excellent aerial views from the pros on You Tube. HERE. The books shown at the end are a terrific source of information and road trips. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUyxRWSYTgM
  11. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Cajon Pass Tour - August 12, 2017

    Mike, It may be that having only one participant was a disappointment, but that is actually encouraging. It would have been double that if I lived anywhere within 100 miles! If I may make a suggestion to consider for your next tour. Link with a worthy non profit, collect a modest donation, and give most or all of it to the non profit. Suppose your next tour is on US99. Choose a non profit. Perhaps one along the route or with some affiliation of some kind with US99. Historical societies, Boy Scouts, car club, churches, etc. Have them handle registrations and promotion to their members. You can still promote it yourself, but channel the details through them. The obvious benefit is that they do the promotion to their members and handle the registrations in return for proceeds. Participants are making a donation to a worthy cause, have some reason to participate, and you are a good guy helping them. There are lots of variations. One I like is the production of a tour guide that you might enjoy developing, and the provision of it to the non profit for their sale. That works especially well with historical societies for their gift shops. Anyway, good luck with the next one. Dave Keep the Show on the Road!
  12. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Cajon Pass Tour - August 12, 2017

    It is hard to put ourselves in our imaginations in a 1915 automobile crossing the desert on a dirt and sand road, and then navigating grades and turns so severe you had to back up to move ahead! By the 1920’s that experience was in the past on Cajon Pass. The 1921 Automobile Blue Book T (Transcontinental) edition describes “descending on easy winding grades over splendid roadway.” The road was paved between San Bernadino and the summit. It was still the National Old Trails Road and the Santa Fe Trail, but it wasn’t the rugged experience it had been just a few years before. My father and uncle used to race trains on the downhill segment in the 30’s, but that is in the Route 66 days, and years later. As an aside, using ArcGIS last evening I overlaid vintage maps on modern base maps and identified a couple of spots where the 1915 road still appears to exist. I’m not sure because I can’t visit it on the ground. Will your tour include any segment of the original automobile route in addition to the later versions? Wish I could be along on the tour! Dave
  13. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Cajon Pass Tour - August 12, 2017

    My 1913-14 Automobile Tour Book – California by the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company shows the route on one of its strip maps. The particular map covers San Bernadeno to Ludlow so it isn’t very detailed. But the comments are interesting. Between San Bernadeno and Ludlow there is gas and oil available only at Victorville. And the grades between Verdemont and Hesperia, in other words, Cajon Pass, reach 18%!! I wondered when the Automobile Blue Book folks recognized the National Old Trails Road as an important transcontinental route. It was not until the 1915 Mississippi River to Pacific Coast edition. Prior editions 1911-1914 did not note the route. I photographed the route turn by turns from the 1915 edition, probably a bit “esoteric” for most, but it might add a touch of history nonetheless. Note how sharp the curves must have been (see second scanned page below). Long wheel based automobiles had to back up to make the turns!! Given the 1915 description, will you be sounding the horn frequently? Dave
  14. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Cajon Pass Tour - August 12, 2017

    Mike, Great plan!! I would be there but 1100 miles from Olympia is a long drive for a day trip!! In 1916 the Old National Trails Road route over the pass was described in the TIB Automobile Route Book west bound, starting at Cajon Pass as: From this point on extreme care should be used in rounding turns and fording streams. Beware of burning out brake linings. Low speed should be used in ascending and descending these grades. You probably have a period map handy, but for others Archive.org has the 1916 strip map set at: https://archive.org/stream/nationaloldtrail00autorich#page/n9/mode/2up And I can photograph my 1916 TIB strip map on request. I no doubt have other maps of the route, but the above are quite useful as contemporary descriptions (pre US66). Dave
  15. Keep the Show on the Road!

    Control Stations And Coffee Camp 1917

    Old road maps tell stories, or at least offer the first page. Take the 1917 & 1921 Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) maps of Tulare County, California. There is a Coffee Camp control station shown outside Porterville (and Springville) in the Inyo National Forest, just south of Sequoia National Park. Was this an early espresso stand? If not, what is a control station and why is it called Coffee Camp? In the teens and 20’s of the last century it was common, especially in mountainous areas, to build single lane roads that hugged steep slopes with sheer drops into the abyss if you were not careful. And much of the time there was no where for cars or wagons meeting on these narrow roads to pass. The roads were so narrow that if wagons met, it might be necessary to disassemble one wagon and walk the horses around the other. There is no reverse gear on a wagon. It wasn’t for music that freighters had loud clanging bells on their wagons!! In my early days I drove such roads, and just so you know, the rule is for the automobile going downhill to back up until there is a wide spot. This reduces the risk of a loss of control or brake failure from hot brakes. But I digress. The common solution on these roads was the “control.” You find these marked on several ACSC maps and I suppose other organizations as well. I haven’t looked. Uphill traffic might be permitted on even hours and downhill on odd, with a break in between to clear the road. The Porterville Ledger provides an article by Brent Gill that explains the name Coffee Camp and describes the use of “controls” HERE. You will enjoy reading it. Brent attributes the name to the practice of drivers who were headed for camps to brew a pot of coffee while waiting for the control to change. That’s a good story, and he knows much more about the name than I do. Today Coffee Camp is a popular recreation area, where the young and bold jump from the rocks into the Middle Fork of the Tule River. As the saying goes, there are old jumpers and bold jumpers, but no old bold jumpers. The article is well worth reading as it provides an insight into early road and logging practices along with the Coffee Camp name explanation…..another example of the stories old maps tell…..or at least lead you to discover!! Dave Keep the Show on the Road!