Posts posted by Ray
Between 1949 and 1974, my uncle worked at most of the 14 substations on the Milwaukee's Rocky Mountain Division between Harlowton and Avery, Idaho. Gold Creek (where I learned to drive on the Old Stage Road) was one of the places he lived. From there he operated Morel (17 miles east (compass south) of Deer Lodge), and Ravenna, right in the middle of Hellgate Canyon about 10 miles west of Drummond. He also served a stint at Avery, Idaho, and ended up living and operating Janney (above Butte) for the last nine years of his career. By that time (the early 70's) the Milwaukee was doing everything it could to save money. From Janney he remotely controlled Morel, Gold Creek, and Ravenna--as well as Janney manually. The substation west of Missoula that you mentioned is at Primrose, right on the Mullan Road which runs from Missoula to Frenchtown. Gold Creek, Ravenna, and Primrose are still there, gutted, of course. Drexel was very near the Camel's Hump which, as you know, is a few miles west of St. Regis, actually pretty close to Henderson. It's public fishing access now. All that remains are a few foundations. My uncle spent a few weeks at East Portal, up above Taft. That's where the bicyclists start their downhill trip along the abandoned grade into Idaho. Absolutely amazing scenery! He also worked east of Butte at the five substations between Two Dot and Whitehall. Those assignments were before I knew him. One substation building remains at Loweth, about 45 miles west of Harlowton, but that's not on the Yellowstone Trail.
I love driving old US 10 (now MT 2) between Three Forks and Butte. It hasn't changed much in the 50+ years I've traveled on it. A couple years back I noticed a truss bridge sitting near the highway somewhere west of Three Forks. Might that be the old Garrison Bridge? Seems like a long ways to move a bridge of that size. There was also a bridge over the Jefferson near Sappington. Maybe it's the one alongside the old highway. The Lewis and Clark Caverns are great, but I'm not sure I'd fit through the narrow passages anymore. God, I hate getting old--and fat!
Wow, the big red cars of the Pacific Electric! I'm sure the old rails are a mere few layers of pavement below the surface in many places. Yakima's interurban has been whittled back to a short line between Yakima and Selah. It still operates, but only infrequently. Rails still stick out on a few of our streets, too.
I might be heading south on US 97 next month to see my son in LA. Pretty much two-lane from Toppenish to Weed, CA. Then I'm back on the Interstate and eventually CA 99 from Stockton to Bakersfield. I-5 over the Grapevine. I'm retired now, and would rather drive than fly. Something about the airplane seats getting smaller .
Glad I could be of service as far as the electric engine is concerned. Yes, today's diesels are actually diesel electrics. Diesel prime movers revving up generators which feed current to the traction motors. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Hey, now, it's not every day I find a reference to the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend. I grew up in South Bend. Although the heyday of that interurban was past by the time I was growing up, I've ridden that line a time or two. I had no idea that it benefitted from this Cold War event. jim
Cold wars have a way of doing that . The three units that went your way apparently had no nickname but were numbered either 801-803 or 800-802. They were wired to operate on 1500 volts as opposed to the Milwaukee's 3400 volt versions. I think the CSS&SB ran the Electroliner until 1963. Or maybe that was on the Northshore. Anyway, it was a nifty looking train.
You are kind to correct Ray’s misattribution. However I was flattered to be mistaken for a younger man, author, and travel bon vivant!
Keep the Show on the Road!
Dave and Denny,
Sorry for the screw-up with the names, guys. I got as far as the "D" and then everything blended together and out popped "Denny".
However, being a former Milwaukee Road employee and the relative of a former Milwaukee substation operator, I simply can't let Dave's "diesel" reference pass. The engine on display near the old prison in Deer Lodge is actually a straight electric, which operated on 3400 volts DC and produced a modest 5510 horsepower. Two of these were usually teamed at the front of a train. They were pretty impressive in action. The railroad nicknamed them "Little Joe" in reference to Joseph Stalin whose Trans Siberian Railroad had been their originally intended destination. With the advent of the Cold War President Truman embargoed the whole shipment because of their strategic value to the Soviet Union. Originally, there were 20 units, but the Milw only ended up with a dozen. The remaining eight were split between Brazil (5) and the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend (3). There you have it. Not really related to the Yellowstone Trail, but in some ways it was.
I looked at the 1919 Automobile Blue Book, and at least in that year the road went through Garrison. I can see why a routing along the Old Stage Road might make sense, though. The other route, not through Garrison, was through the Phillipsburg area. As I recall, and I would have to confirm this, I think the National Parks Highway took the Phillipsburg route.
I like Deer Lodge. It has been two years since I was there. Of course I recall the old prison, and the big diesel engine in town.
Grandpa Keep (not his real name, of course) on my Dad’s side got his citizenship papers just down the road at Anaconda. They say “Deer Lodge” on them, and until two years ago, I thought he got them in Deer Lodge. But of course he got them at the courthouse for Deer Lodge County, which is at Anaconda….another great place to see.
In the late 1800’s when he became a citizen, he was a miner, I thought at Butte. But it might have been that he was working at the smelters in Anaconda.
I’ll do a little more research and see what turns up.
Keep the Show on the Road
Thanks Denny! I figured my theory might be a stretch. That route across the bridge was a typical Montana dirt road, somewhat wider and smoother the closer to Deer Lodge one ventured. I spent a good part of three summers between Gold Creek, where my uncle worked on the Milwaukee Road, and Deer Lodge, honing my driving skills--as if driving a Montana dirt road compared to Tacoma's traffic. Deer Lodge remains an interesting community, but sadly the railroad I grew up with is just a memory. The depot still stands, but now serves as a church. I suppose that's a noble use, but I'd rather have the railroad in operation. The new prison facilities are a few miles west of town now. It was always an interesting experience to drive down Main Street and have the prison walls right on the far edge of the city sidewalk. For me, at least, it was a unique experience.
Montana has some unusual quirks. I don't know all the details, but Deer Lodge County has always played an integral part in Montana's history. Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, and Powell counties competed left and right for money, land, mines, institutions, you name it. Somehow Deer Lodge ended up as the Powell County seat, while mining interests saw fit to back Anaconda as the Deer Lodge County seat. Silver Bow County contented itself with the mines in and around Butte, which serves as that county's center of government. The state prison ended up in Powell County, and the state mental hospital and its TB sanitarium wound up at Warm Springs and Galen, respectively. Both in Deer Lodge County. So within about a 25 mile radius, are located the prison, insane asylum, and TB hospital.
When I worked for the Washington State Dept of Licensing, any questions dealing with Montana vehicle and driver licenses were handled through Deer Lodge, not Helena. For years Montana license plate had "Made in Prison" stamped into them. I checked a recent Montana plate and found no such stamping.
I can definitely see why you might have been confused over where your grandfather was naturalized. I'm not sure Montana has settled everything yet. Just an observation.
I happened across an old (2004) "Arrow," and reread an article about the Conley Bridge at Deer Lodge. The Old Stage Road from Gold Creek comes into Deer Lodge via that very bridge. Conley's endeavor stands out for me not so much due to its link with the Yellowstone Trail, but because that's where my dad taught me to drive when I was 12 years old. Eventually Dad allowed me to drive back along old US 10. I was terrified every time I met a Consolidated Freightways truck on the two-lane, but we made it unscathed. It's approximately 18 miles between Deer Lodge and Gold Creek, whether driven on Interstate 90 (which basically buried old US 10 between the west (north) Deer Lodge exit and Drummond), or roughing it along the Old Stage Road.
I checked the Internet to see which towns in that area of Montana were on the YT, and it appears the routing followed the Clark Fork valley as well as the Milwaukee's and NP's rights of way north to Garrison where a northwest heading was assumed to Gold Creek and eventually Drummond. Since the Conley Bridge lies at the end of the Old Stage Road into Deer Lodge, I wonder if the YT might have followed that route during its earliest years of existence.
I possess fond memories of the area during the 1950's and 60's era. As one rolls past Drummond into Hellgate Canyon even the freeway is forced to adhere to the topography. It is possible to drive on many portions of old US 10 between Drummond and Lookout Pass some 150 miles to the west. The little towns are still there if one can break the spell and regain control of their vehicle long enough to take any of the numerous off ramps from the super slab. Some businesses have closed, of course, but the towns are pretty much as I remember them from my youth. If nothing else, they bring back a flood of heartfelt memories.
Anyway, for those of you still reading this, I thank you. If anyone has info on that stage route's possible link to the YT, please let us know via this forum.
Struck by a bit of wanderlust and looking to fill a couple hours of free time, I headed out yesterday into the upper Yakima Valley of Central Washington to see what I could see. I'm neither a farmer nor an orchardist, but harvest season frequently lends itself to interesting and relaxing drives through a network of winding country roads where speed limits might reach 50, but where most traffic is content to amble along at about 35.
This is big-time fruit country where lush green orchards constrast sharply with the brown, sun-bleached hillsides defining the upper reaches of the valley. Whereas the Wenatchee Valley, 100 miles to the north, focuses most of its energies on the growing and marketing of apples, the Yakima Valley is a bit more diverse. Yes, there are myriad apples in all sorts of varieties, but there are also peaches, pears, plums, prunes, and lest I become a bit too alliterative, there are cherries, nectarines, apricots, and vinyards as well. I won't even touch on the vegetables.
Technically my route centered on orchards located near the Naches River, a tributary of the Yakima. For all intents and purposes, its all part of the same general geographic area and ecosystem. With that cleared up, I'll talk about the drive I took.
Running southeasterly, US 12 pretty much barrels down the center of this part of the valley until it reaches the stop light at the entrance to tiny Naches (population about 700, give or take). The next ten miles into Yakima are on four-lane, divided highway. I'd call it a freeway, but there are a few potentially nasty crossroads which tend to upset the apple cart on occasion (pun intended). I provide this information merely as background and context, because the route I chose intentionally avoids all the four-lane pavement.
Long before the "freeway" existed, there was a route that cleaved to the northern edge of the valley, and eventually entered Naches along what is now Second Street. It's still there, in all its narrow, twisting and turning magnificence. Now a county road named Old Naches Highway, it skirts the ubiquitous orchards, packing sheds, farm driveways, and irrigation canals so vital to the area. This part of the route is posted at 35 MPH, but don't be surprised to find yourself travelling closer to 25 when following orchard equipment or farm vehicles. That's okay, though, because there are a couple of narrow concrete bridges along the way as well. They can be a tight fit when meeting a growling green monster. Like I hinted earlier, the route traverses some very bucolic countryside.
Coming west from Yakima along Highway 12, turn right at the first light after crossing the Naches River. Just before the light, you will have passed Sun Tides golf course on the right. A small shopping center will be at the intersection. This will put you on Old Naches Highway. It jogs left and right here and there, but is clearly marked along the entire route. Ironically, or maybe sadly is a better term, I found no fruit stands along this route. Fruit stands fair better on the more heavily trafficked tourist roads like US 12. It takes roughly 20-30 minutes to cover this leg. It's relaxing, but not to the point of boredom.
Once Naches is reached on the west end there are several options. After entering the center of town turn left and head toward an old gasoline station that serves as a centerpiece. It will be on your left. At the same point, look right and the renovated Northern Pacific Railway depot and community center comes into view less than a block away. There is a newly paved rail/trail hiking and biking path being developed in conjunction with the depot renovation. The path currently is paved for a mile east from the depot. The backers claim a $50.00 donation will pave a ten-foot-wide, one-foot length of the trail. Obviously, it's a grass-roots effort, but worthwhile, nonetheless. By turning left at the light, US 12 eastbound is joined. There are several fruit stands on this section of US 12. It's a quick way back to Yakima, but not the most scenic, relaxing, or interesting way to go. Instead, continue across US 12 and enter South Naches Road. The routing traverses the south bank of the river and again takes the driver through farm and orchard country. This is one of those roads that, for no apparent reason, will make a right angle turn every now and then. Property lines, section lines, who knows? After passing Eschbach County Park on the left, the orchards are mostly a memory as the road snakes between the river's edge and the base of the hills. There are many homes tucked away on this stretch, so beware of vehicles entering the roadway. Part of this section is posted 50MPH, but I found that pace caused white knuckles on occasion. By turning left onto Powerhouse Road the same intersection where the whole trip started is reached. It's approximately a 20-mile loop.
If you're looking for a short but interesting drive on two-lane pavement, this might work. I took this trip on a lark just to see the orchards up close. Even the few minutes I spent stuck behind a slow-moving farm truck didn't bother me. It seemed to fit right in, and besides, this is harvest season. It's exactly what I wanted to see. All of this loop is on county roads now, but the first half covered a chunk of Old US 410 between Yakima and the Cascade Mountains. White Pass (now US 12) to the south wasn't opened until 1951. Around the same time, highway traffic was taken off the Old Naches Highway and routed past the edge of town, albeit still on two-lane pavement. The four-lane divided highway between Naches and Yakima was finished sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Given the current funding situation and traffic patterns, I doubt it will ever extend much farther west. US 12 and now SR 410 split about four miles west of Naches. Both highways are two-laned and provide passage to various entry points in Mount Rainier National Park.
Thanks for your message and interst in the blogs. We are planning on opening the blogs to all members. Our webmaster was evaluating the blogs for security and other issues. We hope to open up blogging to all members in the next few weeks. So, grab your keyboard and get ready to post!
Sounds like fun. I look forward to it. Thanks for the response.
I'm logged in and am able to enter comments under various and sundry topics, but when I try to log onto a blog It tells me I'm not authorized to do that. I don't know if I'd ever post to these blogs, but it would be nice to see what other people have to say. Is(are) the blog(s) reserved for certain levels of membership, or am I simply doing something wrong with my keyboard? Thanks for any suggestions.
OK, thanks Denny. I won't worry my little head about it anymore. Ray
I'm logged in and am able to enter comments under various and sundry topics, but when I try to log onto a blog It tells me I'm not authorized to do that. I don't know if I'd ever post to these blogs, but it would be nice to see what other people have to say. Is(are) the blog(s) reserved for certain levels of membership, or am I simply doing something wrong with my keyboard? Thanks for any suggestions.
I read your first post and the ongoing conversation twixt you, Dave, et al. Very impressive work on the Yellowstone Trail, and great pictures. Between the bunch of you, I've been energized to get back into traveling and reporting on the YT. I've been across the Manastash, as the locals refer to the YT between Selah and E'burg, a few times. I wrote up one of my treks somewhere on this site. I'm also a devotee of old US 97 wherever I can find it, but especially through the Yakima Canyon. Interesting, most people in Yakima call it the Ellensburg Canyon, while everyone else refers to the more logical river name. Oh well.
An aside here, just below the tunnel at about MP 3 or 4 it is possible to see the swerve in the old Northern Pacific right of way. This was necessitated after the highway tunnel collapsed in 1964, and US 97 was rerouted at approximately the same elevation as the NP tracks. The railroad was not too amenable to moving their tracks a few yards closer to the river. The then Dept of Highways eventually won the contest, but according to a former employee of the department, it was like pulling teeth. Back then, railroads had a lot of clout. In fact, they still do. Yakima is still squawking about the BNSF reopening the old NP Stampede Pass line between Auburn and Spokane, via the Yakima Valley. I don't mind a bit. I love trains as much I enjoy 2-lane pavement.
Your comments on western history are interesting. I don't think westerners are averse to history. We just don't have as much of it as the East Coast. It is also much closer to us, in that many of us had living relatives who were only one generation removed from our beginnings, statehood, etc. Our cities date back only to the mid-Nineteenth Century, while yours go back to the 17th Century in certain cases. Your observations are correct, but many westerners might not even realize they're looking at history. I hope that makes a little sense.
Regardless, I hope to read more of your stuff, and to contribute a bit more, myself.
Thanks, Dave. I read the article, and it answered all my immediate questions.
My wife and daughter spent this past Saturday walking around Lake Padden, and it seemed logical that Old Samish was the road I'd driven on way back when. By the time I entered Western in 1967, I-5 was complete through all of Whatcom County.
One of the points made in the article referred to the high per capita of exits along I-5 through Bellingham. Within a few hundred yards of the northbound Samish onramp lies the Lakeway Drive exit. The on/off ramps keep coming like that until just short of Ferndale. For a town of roughly 80,000 inhabitants, the congestion is incredible.
I hadn't given any thought at all to the path of Old 99 north of Samish. The route described in the article makes sense, though. It eventually works its way through the business district along Holly and then past the government buildings off Dupont, crosses Whatcom Creek, and eventually exits via Northwest Blvd.
Alternate 99, SR 11 (Chuckanut Drive) is a wonderful alternative to I-5, but it isn't for the faint of heart. Lots of twists and turns, dropoffs, and narrow bridges. Wonderful views, unless you're the driver. There are a couple of great little oyster grills and stands along the way, as well as Chuckanut Manor near the community of Bow at the south end of the cliff road.
Dave, it's nice to hear from you again, as well. I've been here and there, doing this and that. Managed to get down to Southern California last month where my son drove me along Old 99 through Newhall and San Fernando. I don't drive in LA!
Is Old Samish Way in Bellingham the former US99? I'm guessing it is, as I remember having driven on an old 2-lane stretch between what is now the Samish Exit #252 on I-5, and Alger, on the northern fringe of Skagit County. This was in the spring of 1966 and the Interstate wasn't done yet. I know the original routing was via Chuckanut Drive, but that was way back. Right now I'm interested in Old 99. My daughter is attending college in B'ham and my wife and I make frequent runs up that direction. Any info would be appreciated.
In 1963 (45 years ago!!!) I was starting work with IBM. A group of us were in training at the IBM Education Center in San Francisco for several weeks. We took a weekend trip to the wine country north of the Bay Area. I have edited the “regular 8mm” movie down to the scenes that would be of interest to old roadies.
The handsome fellow standing next to the black 1958 MGA is yours truly, and the red Triumph (Dave Reese, take note!) belongs to an IBM colleague who now I remember only as Dave (blue sweater).
The Mobile Oil service station is much like the Flying A (Associated) station where I worked in the late 1950's, which is the model for the "American Road Garage."
I have no idea if the Rutherford General Store still exists (see my MGA parked there, and note the Chev pickup), but I assume the Beringer Bros. winery is still there. In those days you could buy a bottle (or more) of wine and enjoy it with a picnic on their front lawn.....a practice I am confident has been discontinued!
Enjoy 67 seconds of gripping old road action!
http://www.vimeo.com/653640 Click and wait a few seconds to load, then double click on movie image.
Keep the Show on the Road!
Not quite as much impact as the Zabruder clip which also dates to 1963, but your road trip definitely had a happier outcome. Keep em coming!
Thanks for the great info, Larry. I haven't done much formal research on the numbering system but the information you povided meshes well with my spotty and very subjective observations. I remember my dad telling me that even numbers meant east/west routes and odds referred to north/south. As a youngster the three-digit alternate routes frequently confused me. Eventually they made sense, but sometimes I still scratch my head. Until 1967 (kudos to Dave for verifying that date) we had US 410 traversing Washington east and west. I gather it bore some relationship to US 10. Similarly, we still have US 195 and 395, offshoots of US 95. Near Wallula we have a small part of US 730, perhaps an offshoot of US 30? That's what I would guess anyway.
I've noticed that most public modes of transportation create schedules where an eastbound movement is even numbered, while westward schedules are odd numbered. North and south are even/odd, respectively. The railroads originated that system in the 19th Century. Bus lines and even airlines use the same system.
The loss of the named routes was a shame, but the standardization certainly helped. As my dad or mom navigated through various towns in Washington, Idaho, and Montana I remember looking frantically for that comforting black and white shield bearing the number 10. Often the sign would say "You are heading east (or west) on US 10. Always good to know. Many states have tied their numbering systems to the Federal Interstate system. It sure beats trying to discriminate between Highway 5F, 5G, 5H like we used to do around Tacoma up until the late 1960s.
e='Larry F.' date='Jan 2 2008, 08:16 PM' post='9123']
"On January 1, 1927, “Final location of the United States’ most important roads in the country was announced today by the bureau of public roads of the department of agriculture. The system as finally selected embraces ten main transcontinental routes designated by numbers which are multiples of ten while the important north and south routes are numbers 1, 11, 21, etc.”
Thus reported the Chicago Tribune on January 2, 1927..."
Balance of this nice blog entry on the Windy City Road Warrior site is at:
As the females under 30 would say, "Omagawd!" I met the Shaniko sheriff in 1972 on our way back from an Easter visit at my sister-in-law's place in Modesto. The seven of us were looking around in the old hotel and up he walked, pointing at his badge prominently displayed above his left breast pocket. In no uncertain terms he said, "I'm the sheriff around these parts. If you have any questions just let me know." He was a real character, only he wasn't acting. Apparently the title, badge, and duties had been bestowed upon him and he relished the task.
As for the dirt trails and roads, I haven't been off the pavement of US 97. We have stopped in Shaniko several times since then, but have never again seen the sheriff. By now I suspect he's long gone, at least physically. There are undoubtedly a great many people who remember him. My wife and I always mention that meeting we had whenever we drive through or stop. There used to be a rail spur into Shaniko to serve the sheep business. It's long gone as well. I seem to work in the mention of a railroad in a lot of my posts. They fascinate me as much as the two lane roads.
I've been down through Moro, Wasco, Dufur, et al several times. Compared to the eastern half of Oregon, Washington's dry side is a burgeoning metropolis. With the exception of Bend, there isn't a truly sizable town in Oregon's High Desert. You get into the middle of nowhere in a real hurry. I enjoy that run on US 97 though. Once Weed is reached you're back on I-5 along with everybody and his brother. Beyond Weed I don't know if one can pick up old 97. I'm not even sure it existed south of there.
I'll be sure to holler for help if I can't figure out how to feed pictures into my computer. Notice I said "feed". I really don't know if I'm downloading or uploading, so I just feed.
Well, have a good evening, Dave.
I forgot to comment on your recently posted photos of Paradise, Nevada. I realize you were down there in December, but the snow lying on the ground surprised me. I picture Nevada in a very stereotypical way--lots of sand and heat. But then, I've never been there. My sources of information have been limited to old TV westerns and shows featuring Las Vegas.
The pictures reminded me of Shaniko, Oregon, where US 97 makes a 90 degree turn to the west as it goes through the town. The buildings are about the same age as the ones you snapped in Nevada. I particularly like the second picture which gives a good view of the road turning sharply. Thanks for posting these.
Thanks Dave and Alex,
I'm glad you guys enjoyed my poetic efforts. I was hoping I wouldn't end up banned from the Forum. I dabble in poetry now and then, but don't usually toss it out to the masses. I wrote that piece last June as I longed to get out of Dodge, so to speak.
You're absolutely right, Dave. The ending could use a more upbeat approach. I will look into it. At the time it seemed right, but now that I've found this site and forum I'd like to give my piece a more positive feel. The nostalgia comes across a bit too maudlin. That was the feel I wanted when I wrote it, but as I said, here it needs a little more happiness.
When I drive, my emotions run the gamut from sad nostalgia to moments of bright elation. When I was 14 my dad gassed up our '57 Chevy at a Shell station on the east end of Mullan, Idaho. It was a very hot August day and I quenched my thirst with a slushy bottle of Orange Crush straight from the machine in the repair bay. Last summer I found that same station still pumping gas. The pop machine was long gone, but the memories were still fresh. I settled for a frosty Alaskan Amber at the 1313 Club in Wallace.
Yes, Dave, I have access to a digital camera. My wife, Bonny, and I picked it up from Costco as a mutual Christmas gift. We're both learning which buttons to push. After that we'll figure out how to post pictures. My daughter is pretty well-versed in this kind of thing, so we can refer questions to her. She's up in Bellingham now which gives me an excuse to travel Chucknut Drive and stop at one of those oyster shacks along the way.
Once spring and summer arrive I will head north over old Blewett Pass. I've been over that one a couple of times. The Forest Sevice maintains the route during the driving season. I'll be sure to write it up. I have all kinds of plans. Finding this site has motivated me to record what I observe, digging into history whenever I can. I enjoy writing, so this seems an ideal opportunity.
Take care, Dave and Alex.
quote name='Keep the Show on the Road!' date='Jan 8 2008, 02:11 PM' post='9169']
Excellent!! I agree with Alex! And boy did it spark some recollections, and reactions.
I did a two lane Montana trip a year ago last October....a wonderful, wonderful trip. Tons of great two lane roads!
And your poem captures so much of “the quest,” I should post in on my dashboard.
It is within our minds...and for those of us lucky enough to have collected in our minds both the real and the researched roadsides over the years, it is a rich resource indeed.
But I am a bit more optimistic about the quest than perhaps your poem suggests. At least once every trip I take, I do discover the authentic....it isn’t a hopeless quest. I would change those two lines to “Perhaps one day I’ll find it, Driven by this hope filled quest.” (You can tell I’m no poet!!)
For example, on my most recent trip (last month) I drove to the little town of Paradise Valley, Nevada, drove up main street, and turned right at the end of the street.... and suddenly there was in front of me a 1925 roadside scene (see video here).
It happens every trip, but you have to have the "minds eye" to see it...as you know and say. For me, driving an old road or alignment is like being immersed in a wonderful movie where my mind provides the characters and the plot, and the road, the background and setting.
I’ll post the video when I get a chance, but here is the garage, hotel, and bar that took me back 80 years...in my mind’s eye.....the reward for SEARCHING!
BTW, Paradise is a great place to visit or stay and well worth the trip.
Great poem. I hope you will do some more!
Keep the Show on the Road!
Paradise, Nevada, December 2007
Not sure if this is the proper venue, but I wanted to post a poem I wrote last June. It deals with the thoughts and feelings evoked when I tried to retrace the old routes. I am most familiar with former US 10 from Washington through North Dakota. Much of it lies buried beneath those superslabs we call I-90 and I-94, but stretches of the old two-lane pavment still exist if one has the the patience and fortitude to get off the Interstate and delve into the scenery and history of the former routes.
You can still drive down the main street of Deer Lodge, Montana, with the walls of the former state prison looming overhead from a mere 25 feet away. Follow the switchbacks over the Continental Divide at Pipestone Pass, some 6300 feet above sea level. Farther east, follow Montana SR 2 through the Jefferson River Canyon and see sights that Lewis and Clark viewed more than 200 years ago. Head over to Three Forks and gaze at the headwaters of our longest river, the Missouri. Then follow old 10 through Logan, Manhattan, and Belgrade on your way into Bozeman. Get a feel for the country and the people who live and work there. Experience the Bridger Mountains as you head to Livingston. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to witness a Montana Rail Link train struggling over the same pass with 5000 tons fighting against the screaming diesels. Mosey into the towns; don't just blow past them. Skip the McDonalds' and Burger Kings. Eat at a local diner or cafe.
Much of the route was extant well into the 60s. Whenever I can manage it, I drive the old roads. I look for the drive-ins my dad took us to on our long journeys from Tacoma. Some are still there, some merely exist in my mind. But, I still get the same thrill when I visit all these places. That's what the poem is about.
Driving down a highway
blurred pictures in my mind.
Struggling ever onward
to leave this life behind.
Mileposts mark my progress,
from town to town I've been.
Golden arches everywhere.
I search for things unseen.
To towns of long ago
on two-lane roads I drive.
Seeking moments that once were,
when hope seemed so alive.
Searching here, looking there;
north, south, then east and west
Doubt I'll ever find it,
Haunted by this hopeless quest.
Another day dawns brightly.
Perhaps those towns I'll find.
But should I fail once again,
It's all within my mind.
Hi Dave, Denny, et al.
I've finally gotten back to the site. Now, with a bit of luck I'll manage to post that run down old US 97 that I promised you.
As many know, old 97 between Ellensburg and Yakima ran through what is generally referred to as the Yakima River Canyon. Oddly enough, the residents of Yakima frequently call it the Ellensburg Canyon, while those living in Ellensburg usually say it's the Yakima Canyon. I suppose it depends on which direction one is headed. That's one of the things I enjoy about the old routes. You are exposed to the subtle nuances that make each community just a little different from all the others. Those oddities are what make live interesting.
The route is accessed most easily from the south at Exit 26 off I-82, and at the north end at either Exit 109 off I-90 or Exit 29 off I-82. If Exit 109 is used just head south on Canyon Road (county road) four miles to to Thrall and the road becomes SR 821. North from Exit 109 takes you into Ellensburg along Main Street.
I'm not sure, but I believe this route was punched through sometime in the 1920s or very early 1930s. It generally follows the Yakima River, occupying, for the most part, the side opposite the old Northern Pacific (now BNSF) railroad grade. Don't expect to see many trains in here. On average, only about four to six freights operate daily on the former Stampede Pass line which BNSF took out of mothballs and rebuilt to higher standards in 1996. Rumors of increased traffic on this line have clogged many Yakima city council agendas, but only time will tell. More trains wouldn't hurt my feelings.
Regardless of the season, the old water-level route is very scenic and geologically quite interesting. During the blistering heat of summer the canyon route, although still hot, provides some relief, if only visual, as it stays within sight of the river for most of the way. The interstate, located a few miles east, traverses and skirts the Army's Yakima Training Center. Alone with one's thoughts, spaciousness and isolation are a traveler's only companion on this route.
The canyon route is designated a recreational highway for its entire 24-mile length. Be forewarned, the speed limit is 45 and, when they say "strictly enforced," they mean it. The sheriff departments of both Yakima and Kittitas Counties, as well as the Washington State Patrol frequent the area. During the summer this is prime river floating country, and DUIs are issued left and right. Besides, the point of taking the route is to enjoy the scenery. So, if time is precious, come back when you can enjoy the experience.
I drove the route southbound so my descriptions will generally run that direction. My starting point was across from the McDonald's where Umptanum Road joins Canyon Road. From there it is about four miles to the officially designated entrance to the canyon. Between the I-90 overpass and Thrall Road, the speed limit is 50, but it is 45 once the canyon is reached.
Entering the canyon the road hugs the eastern wall and passes several newer hones which have been erected on either side of the road. For the most part these houses have been built with the surroundings in mind. This softens the blow, but one can't help but wonder how many homes might be built. The railroad tracks are just below the road grade to the right. About two miles into the actual canyon the tracks cross to the west bank. At milepost 22 (remember, I'm running in reverse here) the first hairpin curve is encountered. At the far end of the curve is one of the main entry points for rafters, and a favorite spot for radar carrying troopers intent on slowing you down, if not ruining your day.
At MP 19 is another 180 degree turn, but not quite as tight as the first. In the hot weather the river is full of college students and locals drifting listlessly downstream for 15 miles, coolers of liquid refreshment in tow. Can't say as I blame 'em. The canyon walls close in now, only sporadically spreading here and there. Depending on the time of day and the season, each curve in the road opens new vistas. The same scene might appear vastly different depending on the sun's angle, the foliage, or the weather. I've driven this route literally hundreds of times, yet it never bores me. About 12 miles from the starting point at McDonald's, lies the Umptanum Recreation Area. These camping areas have restrooms, tables, and iron barbecues. Drop boxes are provided for fee payment. As part of the coordinated arrangement I think Washington State Department of Natural Resources handles this aspect. But then, I could be wrong. All I know is that somebody collects the money.
A couple miles farther south you come upon a rock outcropping on the right. You can't miss it. There is a huge yellow pacman painted at water's edge. The braver, or more folish, among us dive into the river from this point. On the left these same people might be seen hang gliding from the walls of the natural bowl just across the road.
Fishermen are active year round casting their flies. It's all catch and release, from what I've been told. Guides are frequently seen leading their customers to the best holes. Even Jay Buhner has fished this river.
Shortly (within 1/2 mile) the road climbs to pass through a sheer rock wall that the river swings around. Just over the crest is a monument on the left with the inscription "The McPherson Range". This is, or at least was, sheep country and Angus McPherson ran sheep up here somewhere. Upon reaching the river again you pass the old railroad siding of Wymer. The orignal name was Canyon and there was a house up the hill from the tracks where the operator lived. The grass is still greener where the house used to stand. A water tower filled steam locomotive tenders until the mid 1950s.
At highway milepost 13 is a pulloff where layers of sedimentary rock can be seen in the walls across the river. At MP 10 Big Pines Recreation Area is passed on the right. This is the site of the former highway department facility. In 1971 it was moved closer to Selah along the freeway. At MP 7 the rafting area ends and there is a mile of river where water skiers and jet ski enthusiasts spend their summer weekends.
As the road climbs out of the river valley the Roza Dam is seen off to the right. Here irrigation water is fed into canals to serve teh Yakima Valley orchards and farms. The railroad crosses back to the east side of the river. At MP 3 the road skirts an old highway tunnel that collapsed in 1964. The highway was rerouted along the railroad tracks, but only after a battle was won requiring the NP to move their tracks several yards to the east so that the road could be squeezed in. If you look at the right time you can see where the railroad swerves and returns to its original alignment.
Soon Selah Creek is crossed. It amazes me that what is now such a small creek could have gouged out the canyon that is visible to the east. The arches of the Fred Redman Memorial Bridge can be seen to the east on I-82. Fred Redman was responsible for the idea of using private contractors to build highways instead of state crews.
At MP 1 is the old Pomona Tavern, a local landmark. If you're lucky, or unlucky, depending on your viewpoint, you might be treated to parade of tanks and other military vehicles crossing the road to enter the military enclosure.
In a mile you hit I-82 and can enter the freeway. If you want to take another short segment of old 97 just cross the freeway and turn right across from the Shell Mini-mart. That will take you to the freeway entrance at Exit 29. Yakima is just through the gap.
Well, that's it. Hope I didn't bore too many of you.
BTW Dave, thanks for posting those descriptions of the Manastash route.
Hi Dave and Denny,
Thanks for the kind words about my write-up.
Before summarizing the southbound return trip along old US 97 I'll touch on a couple of points I neglected to make concerning the northbound run. The alapsed time from Selah was about 1.5 hours. The first 20 miles are mostly posted 35mph. There is a fair amount of traffic along this stretch as the road serves myriad farms and homes. There are lots of curves that seem to spring up for no geological reason; perhaps some rancher might have balked at allowing the road to pass through his land many years prior. So, rubbernecking is permitted, but be careful.
The first couple of miles along North Wenas have been four-laned by the city. There is even a stoplight at Goodlander Road where the new Selah High School sits atop the hill to the left. From Goodlander, though, it's two-lane all the way, albeit somewhat narrow here and there, especially through parts of the unpaved section.
The Wenas Valley is fairly wide until near Longmire Lane, probably 12 miles out. Between there and the lake the barren hills on either side tighten their grip.
I was lucky yesterday. Although snow lay on the ground and parts of the road surface, things went smoothly. I doubt I'd want to tackle the unpaved stretch much later in the year, or even in the early spring when mud would be an issue.
I suspect many fishermen and hunters are very aware of the existence of this road, but I doubt msot realize it is part of the old YT. Speaking as a true city-dweller, "There is nothing up there." which is one of the reasons i like it so much. With the exception of the resort, once Goodlander Road is left behind, no servieces exist. It's one thing to navigate that route in a heated 2005 all-wheel-drive Mercury Montego, but think of the planning and effort it must have taken during the early part of the 20th Century in a Model T.
One more thing on Damman School. My son had the contracted janitorial job there in 1992 while he attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg. One evening I was helping him with the quick mop-up when one of the two teachers showed up. I asked her how she dealt with teaching three grade levels simultaneously. Her response was that the students in the older grades helped teach those at the younger levels. She would introduce a topic, and they'd take it from there. The building had a gym and a tiny lunch room. All the comforts of home, so to speak. There has been much talk of merging with Ellensburg School District, but so far those attempts have failed. There is no town there, just a scattering of farms and ranches. The building sits on the NW corner of Umptanum and Manastash Roads. It defintiely worth a look. When I drove past on Umptanum the blinking school zone lights were in operation and I had to slow to the required 20MPH. That was about the only visual evidence of modernity.
I have to stop now. Guess that return posting will have to wait a bit longer.
Yes, I made it over the Manastash via the old Yellowstone Trail and came back along the river via old US 97. US 97 between Ellensburg and Yakima was routed via I-82 in 1971. The Freeway opened the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that year. The water level route is numbered SR 821 between Thrall Road and the Yakima Training Center. There is an additional 3 miles of county road extending from the training center south to the East Selah Road exit #29 where it ties back into I-82. When going south on old 97 continue across I-82 and make an immediate right to travel this additonal portion.
Here's a rundown on what I saw going each direction. My teachers would be proud of me as I actually took a few notes along the way. Don't worry, I pulled off the road to write. Of course I worked in a stop at Selah's King's Row Drive In. Great burgers, and hot fries! What would a road trip be without locally owned burger joints?
The old YT runs north down Selah's main street to Naches Avenue where 821 goes east one block to North Wenas Road. Turn left onto N Wenas and you're on your way. From there the two-lane pavement continues 15 miles north and west through small farms, ranches, and a few orchards. Wenas Creek is never far away; its path delinieated by dissiduous trees and bushes
At the 15 mile mark the lower end of Wenas Lake is reached. To the left the half-empty lake bed extends about a mile where the Wenas Lake Resort lies perched on a rise norh of the road. Hardly in the bed and breakfast category, this is a fishing hangout. From here the road twists over and through some barren hills for another four miles before reaching pine growth. Another couple of miles and the pavement abruptly ends just beyond the Audubon and Maloy Roads.
With caution the road was navigable, albeit twisting, narrow, and rough--reminds me of Hobbes's definition of life, "nasty, brutish, and short." So much for philosophy. There was no threat of high-centering so my Montego pushed onward and upward. At the 24-mile mark the temperature had dipped to 25F and snow covered the roadway. About a mile and a half farther I reached Observation Road which veers off to the left. It was gated so I have no idea of what can be seen from that road. At about this point the road crests a summit and soon a lonely ranch house and its corrals are passed. This was the first apparent habitation in about 10 miles. From here the road widened a bit and became somewhat smoother. Snow now lined the sides where a plow had bladed it.
At the 29-mile mark I reached Hanson's Pond, and a mile beyond met my first opposing traffic since leaving the pavement at mile 20. Umptanum Falls parking area is reached at Mile 30.2. Umptanum Creek flows into the Yakima River which lies a few miles east. Another mile and there is a sign telling you that the county road ends, not that it made any difference. Although there is no indication, the road might be maintained as part of the L T Murray Game Preserve, or it might be that I crossed into Kittitas County at the sign and Yakima County simply said they were done with it. I'll have to get out a map and see.
Now it was snowing and 26F.
Althogh it was a little hazy or foggy, at mile 34 I caught my first glimpses of the Kittitas Valley about five miles ahead. After passing the Triple R Ranch pavement reappears at Mile 35. From here it's a relatively quick run down to the valley floor at Mile 37. At mile 38.5 Damman School is passed. This is an operating 2-room schoolhouse along with its old teacherage (now a rental). Grades K-5 are taught in the two multi-grade classrooms by two teachers. Damman is it's own district and the students usually attend Ellensburg schools upon matriculating. There are around 55-65 students spread over six grades. Reminded me of the 2-room school my three cousins attended in Gold Creek, Montana, also located along the YT.
At mile 39.5 the Yakima River is crossed and it's only another mile to the Canyon Road (Old 97) where the usual profusion of fast food places, gas stations, and, thankfully, restrooms await. That's the first half of the trip. I'll post the second half later or tomorrow.
We understand! This is the Northwest and winter. Hope your trip to Ellensburg works! Maybe you will come back by the old river route.
I don't think the Jackson Highway name applied to US99 as far north as Tenino or Olympia. It was down around Toleto, the Jackson Courthouse cabin, and the old Hudson Bay Company Cowlitz Prairie farm. That whole area is fascinating, especially with the fur trapping era connections with the Hudson Bay Company, Cowlitz landing, and the Cowlitz Trail. Another of my "favorite places!"
Keep the show on the Road! Dave
My "scouting trip" ended about five miles from home. It was foggy and I got a late start. So, I gave it up yesterday. Take heart though, I'm heading out right now to see what's up on the roadways of my world. However, I'm heading out on the "North Wenas" to Ellensburg. Tonight I'll post what I've found.
BTW, I remember that roadhouse you asked about, or at least I think I do. Is it the one that is about 5 miles south of the Olympia Airport which lies south of Tumwater? I can't provide any information other than I've seen it. Is that the stretch called the Jackson Highway, or maybe I'm confusing that stretch with something else.
BTW2, Thanks for the info on 410. I had forgotten that it ran to Lewiston, but at least I was pretty close on the date of the switch to US 12 numbering.
So, off I go on the run over the Manastash. I'll write up what I find tonight or tomorrow.
Glad we could help out.
I think John mentioned that YT pavement being in Grandview, but I'm not sure. Since I don't have to attend jury duty today I might run down there this afternoon and see what I can find. There is also a short strip of pavement in Zillah that looks to be part of the old trail. I'll check that out too and report back.
As far as the Teapot is concerned, it still sits near the east Zillah exit of I-82. I heard that it will be moved and converted to a tourist info center, but that hasn't happened yet.
US 12 down there was realigned in 1959 according to my wife. Her house was razed for the widening and eventual new route. The highway dept took enough of their land so that they could use the "just compensation" to build a new home on what was left. At that time it was US 410 which ran from Olympia or maybe Aberdeen to Walla Walla. I met my wife in 1966 and it was US 410 then. It changed to US 12 a year or two later. Up to that point, I don't remember seeing US 12 in Washington. I had seen it in Montana and Wyoming, but not here. I might not have been in the right place to notice it. Besides, we didn't stray far from US 10 on our junkets to Montana.
My wife just cleared me to head for the Lower Valley this afternoon. Think I'll head out on the road. Hopefully, I'll see something worth noting on this site.
Hey, drive safely!
Westward Over The Conley Bridge At Deer Lodge
in Yellowstone Trail / National Parks Highway
Posted · Edited by Ray
Yes, Avery was pretty interesting the first time I saw it in '63. I'd been through it on the Milwaukee's Olympian Hiawatha in 1960, but since the train arrived at 215AM, I was zonked. My grandparents from Germany were visiting their daughter, Mom's sister, and we drove up the St. Joe from St Maries over Memorial Day weekend to pick them up for a trip to Tacoma and Mount Rainier. There were probably 300-400 people living there in 1963. Most were associated with the Milwaukee Road as it was both a division point and start of a helper district where extra engines assisted heavy freights over St. Paul Pass. It was also the western end of the Rocky Mountain Division electrification, so engines were always being worked on.
It's still a 47 mile trip from St. Maries to Avery, but the road has been improved significantly. Some of the old railroad grade is now used by the Shoshone County Road Dept to gain entry to Avery from the west. The road used to be gravel for the last dozen or so miles, but now is paved all the way. It was pretty exciting meeting log trucks on that stretch of the old road which was on the south side of the shadowy St. Joe.
The Avery depot now serves as the town post office and community center. It actually looks much better than when it housed a beanery, baggage room, and the usual assorted railroad paraphernalia. The substation, now demolished, was similar to the one at Cle Elum in that it had a gabled roof to ward off heavy snows. It was about 100 feet east of the depot. Between the depot and the substation was an old fish pond which attracted the attention of many bored passengers as they stretched their legs during brief station stops. It's still there, fish and all. The town now "boasts" a full-time population of about 60 hardy folks. Like you mentioned, this is one of the most isolated areas in the Northwest, if not the country. The area is popular with hunters and fishermen. A forest Service camp lies just west of the townsite--near where the old roundhouse sat. Both substation operators' bungalows still exist a couple hundred feet east of the depot. My uncle's place was the second one. It's been remodeled, but is still there. With the exception of some bait shops and ourfitters, a cafe and a tiny store are about the only businesses left in the town. Oh, there is a school on the west end just across the river, and a couple of tiny motels have sprouted over the past couple of decades. Posh, it's not! There's a 33-mile-long dirt road over Moon Pass connecting Avery to Wallace. Part of the road uses the old Milw right of way, including several tunnels and high trestles.
After turning 90 degrees to the left, the tracks headed virtually straight north up the North Fork of the St. Joe River. About 12 miles into the canyon the railroad turned east and followed Loop Creek to gain elevation. Still climbing a 1.7% gradient, the trains made a 180 degree turn through a pair of tunnels to head west until reaching the mouth of the 1.8 mile tunnel over St. Paul Pass at Roland, Idaho. The far end of the bore lies at East Portal, Montana.
I'll keep Kent in mind when heading south on 97. Then I will definitely try to cruise a few miles on old 99 below Weed. I've been through Dunsmuir on the old road, and it was a hoot. Lots of railroading in that area as well. I remember seeing your gas station pictures a while back. I'll see if I can find the place.