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


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Everything posted by Ray

  1. Hi Dave, I think you're right on all counts concerning the bridge and the older alignment of the highway through Thorp. The view is definitely southwest. What is now SR 10 (formerly US 10) would be just to the upper right of the photo. In other words, over the right shoulder of the photographer. The irrigation structures I mentioned in my post are clearly visible, only in much healthier condition than now. The Thorp Rd which crossed the bridge joins the newer alignment about a half mile beyond to the west(right). The newer road runs generally parallel to that trestle. I have a softbound book on the history of Snoqualmie Pass and the author (not sure of her name, but Prater rings a bell) mentioned the road going through Thorp from the area where it comes down off Manastash Ridge to the southeast of this shot. When my son attended Central Washington at Ellensburg in 1990-1992 he worked for the owner of the piece of land at the west end of that bridge. The owner's first name was Rich and he ran some cattle between the road and the NP (BNSF) railroad tracks just to the south of the picture. I don't know the construction date of the Thorp bridge, but I've checked the stamped dates on the concrete bridges along SR 10 in the vicinity and they read 1930. That would make sense because at about that time the federal government began referring to highways by number rather than names like Yellowstone Trail. As you know, the YT split at Spokane with a leg going south and west via Walla Walla, Pasco, Yakima and up to Ellensburg/Cle Elum; and a leg heading west along what is now US 2 through Davenport, Wenatchee, Blewett Pass (now US 97), and linking with the southern route at Teanaway Jct near Cle Elum. Once US 10 was completed across the middle of the state the YT routings probably lost some of their luster. Ironically, the local highway enthusiasts applied so much pressure for good roads that they might have put themselves out of business. Regardless of my editorializing, I still have a deep fondness for US 10. And yes, I belong to the YT group. "Nothing happens on the Interstate. It's illegal." Moon in Blue Highways. Ray
  2. Thank you to several Daves, Denny, Jennifer, and anyone else I might have missed mentioning. No slights intended. This certainly is a very welcoming and free-wheeling group (pun intended). I look forward to learning a great deal about the two-lane pavements (and dirt roads) that spun the fabric of this nation. Perhaps it's wanderlust, but I have always felt that the best part of any journey is the actual time spent either on the road or darn close to it. By that I mean the local businesses, scenic vistas, historical markers, landmarks, and local lore. Often after reaching my destination, I become restless in anticipation of either retracing my route, or taking an alternate course. With gasoline prices soaring into the stratosphere, I still try any angle I can to hand-deliver a package to my daughter in Bellingham, even though that 450 mile round trip will cost at least $60. I could mail it for $8.00, but what fun is that? Dave, you mentioned the dirt portion of the Yellowstone Trail running between Yakima and Ellensburg. Coincidentally, I was toying with the idea of making that run earlier this morning, but after seeing the snow lying on the ground here in Yakima with the temperature hovering at 24F, I thought better of it. That'll have to be another day. I've taken the road over the Manastash (as the locals call it) twice. It is dirt all the way from Wenas Lake to just south of Ellensburg. Much of the route skirts or traverses the L T Murray Game Preserve. There really isn't much up there except rocky ground, peace and quiet, wome wildlife, and only the occasional opposing vehicle. The welcome dearth of traffic is a two edged sword. After negotiating several hills and sharp curves without seeing another soul, it can be quite startling to round a bend and find a 4X4 raising dust and heading right at you. You wake up in a hurry. I, too, have often driven the Ellensburg to Cle Elum stretch of old US 10, now SR 10. It's wonderfully scenic and hasn't changed much in the nearly 40 years since I-90 eclipsed the route. The same rotting trestles carrying the old irrigation system that I first saw in 1954 still hug the road shoulder. Below, the Yakima River is flanked on the north by the BNSF's Stampede Pass line, while to the south runs the John Wayne Trail, the now abandoned Milwaukee line. Teanaway Junction, at the west end of SR 10, is little changed. The old rest area/meeting place is still there where the YT came down from Blewett Pass and headed west into Cle Elum, abouit three miles distant. Sadly, or maybe not so sadly depending upon one's sensitivities, the portapotties have been removed. The businesses along Cle Elum's main street come and go, reflecting the former coal mining town's attempts to replace its major industry with tourist activities and commercial establishments. The Cottage is still as busy as ever. It's been there since 1937 and is worth a stop. Near the west end of the business district sits Mama Vallone's Italian eatery. It's very good, but much more expensive than some of the other restaurants and diners. There are a couple of hamburger joints that are pretty decent, but the town has succumbed to a plastic Dairy Queen right across from the post office and a Burger King at the Safeway plaza on the west end of town. The modern transgressions are pretty easy to ignore, though. Diamondback's has taken over the old Cavellini's, but is also on the pricey end. The Sunset Cafe is still extant a bit farther east. Just before heading up the hill where the old highway hits I-90 is a new traffic light governing the road to South Cle Elum. Inside the restored Milwaukee depot is a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. There is an interpretive trail through the site of the old rail yard. The Cascade Rail Foundation is attempting to restore the former subdivision point. It's worth a visit. To find it, follow the signs to the Old Bunk House Bed and Breakfast. This place is also worth a stop or stay. I Have driven old US 10 east of Ellensburg less frequently. It crests several miles east of town and heads down a steep grade past Gingko Petrified Forest State Park and into the reincarnation of Vantage which was moved south to where the new bridge crosses the Columbia River. In 1961, the town and old bridge were inundated by the lake formed behind Wanapum Dam. Many a car overheated on that 10-mile grade coming west. There are paired viewpoints along I-90 east of the river. The eastbound stop offers views of the river, surrounding hills, Wanapum Dam, and some metal sculptures titled "Grandfather lets loose the horses." Westbound, one can wander (be careful of rattlers) on paved trails overlooking the river and its escarpments. There is one particular outlook along the trail where the old road is visible, far below, snaking up the cliffs. Once east of the Columbia few vestiges of the old route remain, as I-90 was built pretty much on top of it. Of course, there are a few exceptions; notably at Moses Lake, Ritzville, Sprague, and Cheney. Thanks, Dave. You jogged some of my memories. I'll yield the floor now. So, tell me what you remember of old 99. Ray
  3. I grew up in the 50s and 60s in Tacoma, Washington, nestled against the 4-lane pavement of the Pacific Coast Highway, US 99. For some reason most of our trips went north toward Seattle, and hence the informal moniker, the Seattle-Tacoma Highway. Of course it ran south and west as well, through Fort Lewis and Olympia where it made a hard left onto Capitol Way (Boulevard) running alongside the Olympia Brewery at Tumwater. Eventually it became a makeshift "freeway" or at least a divided highway to Centralia/Chehalis, Longview/Kelso, and ultimately exited the state at Vancouver where it crossed the long bridge to Portland, Oregon. Maybe its familiarity bred comtempt because I never considered these journeys as more than extended Sunday drives with my parents. It wasn't until 1954 that I caught my first glimpse of what would become my favorite highway, US 10. US 99 connected to US 10 just west of the floating bridge in Seattle. You could pick it up by turning onto Dearborn or off of Empire Way where you'd pass through the Mount Baker Ridge and cross Lake Washington. In those days there was only one floating bridge. Coming up from Tacoma my dad would often sneak cross-country through Renton and Issaquah where we connected to what he called "The Yellowstone Trail," although the name had fallen into disuse by that time. You can still drive the route between Renton and Issaquah by following Highway 900 east. Each summer we would head for my aunt's and uncle's place in Montana. The ultimate destination varied from time to time because my uncle worked for the Milwaukee Railroad and lived anyplace between Avery, Idaho, and Butte, Montana. Avery is just south of Wallace so Highway 10 was our natural route. The Milwaukee right of way, albeit now abandoned, still follows old 10 and yes, I-90 most of the way. I witnessed the seemingly slow progress of I-90 in the late 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, as bit by bit, the old route was downgraded or abandoned completely. Even as a young teenager I realized something was changing. Yes, we certainly made better time, but at what cost? The old gas stations and diners we frequented eventually faded away, victims of the hypnotizing effects of freeway driving. The towns no longer seemed vital, at least not at their cores. Why would they when services moved out to the interchanges and the local drive-ins and diners lost their life blood to Denny's, McDonald's, and whatever other chain one can think of. Even the little stores became mini-marts with pre-made sandwiches in coolers, and burgers wrapped in tinfoil sitting on warming racks. For those reasons and many others, I still drive the two-lanes when I can. Granted sometimes even I am in a rush, but if possible I follow the Moon's "Blue Highways" as often as I can, seeking out my youth even if only in memories. I know, this is a very convoluted introduction, so here goes. I'm 60, still live in Washington State (Yakima). I'm retired from the State of Washington and have been married 40 years. I graduated from Western Washington State College in 1969, before every educational institution in America was upgraded to a university. I have two grown children, a sone living in Canyon Country, Ca, and a daughter residing in Bellingham, Washington. I like to travel, especially by car and train. I read, study history, and write now and then. That's one of the reasons I joined this forum. Thanks for having me. I look forward to reading your posts and writing a few responses. Ray
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