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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

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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About Keep the Show on the Road!

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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!!
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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!
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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!
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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!
  14. Us 99 News?

    Mike, I live close to the old Pacific Highway, or as you know it, US99. This will deal with just the section between Olympia and Tenino, Washington, near my home. The old road house and bordello of the 1930’s at the Waldrick Road intersection is looking good, but long closed of course. The red light on the porch has been removed lately. Someone who knew the history of the place was enjoying a joke, I assume. Someone has logged off the trees along the old narrow gauge rail bed that connected Olympia with the main line in Tenino south of the Waldrick Road intersection, so it is now more visible. The “real” action is taking place on Chain Hill. As you know, the Pacific Highway here generally followed the old Cowlitz Trail, blazed by the Hudson Bay Company. Going north from Tenino, where old man Meeker placed one of his sandstone Oregon Trail Markers, the old trail, and the Pacific Highway climbed over Chain Hill. The old road bed is still pretty evident if you know where to look. Just over the crest, the old road split in two and then reconnected, perhaps to control the grade, or because of winter vs summer road conditions. You can almost imagine driving a Model T probably chained up, and perhaps even backing up to keep fuel flowing to the carburetor, climbing the Chain Hill grade. When you drive that section today, there is a modern cut and fill that would not have been typical in the teens. That cut is slipping so the road is down to one lane. In Tenino itself, the fellow who peddled hot dogs and bar b que beside the road for many years is gone. But Scotty B’s is going strong, with good burgers, a 1950’s auto ambiance, and the old timers at the counter swapping stories, I cross the totem pole bridge almost daily into Olympia. For many years this was the south entrance to the city, and beside it sat the Olympic Brewery….its the water! Sadly the famous old Brewery is still up for sale. Here is a post I did ten years ago. Us 99 Totem Pole Bridge & The Old Brewery - Pacific Highway / U.S We don’t have all the road construction you describe. That kind of stuff is happening in Seattle, including a tunnel….thank goodness!! I'm looking out my window to our lake, ducks flying by, swallows looking for a place to build their nests, and a bald eagle perched in a tree across the lake. A world away from my days in SoCal and the exciting scenes you describe! Dave Keep the Show on the Road
  15. What's Your Favorite National Park?

    Mike, Thanks for the geology insights! I have an amateur understanding of our geological heritage and some of the forces and events shaping it. Clearly not nearly as great as yours. My days in academia introduced me to a fellow with his doctorate in geology from Princeton, and we became best of friends. Our families spent many days over a 10 year period “in the field.” He helped instruct me. I think if I were going to prescribe preparation for being a vintage road fan, it might be a combination of civil engineering, geology, and local history. Like your pick, Death Valley, and all of the Sierra Nevada, the great events of geology are laid bare in places like Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce, Arches, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, etc. About the only thing any are lacking is a nice active volcano. But wait awhile and maybe a Long Valley Caldera “event” will reroute US395! You are fortunate to have your knowledge and interest!! Dave Keep the Show on the Road!