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Road Warrior

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  1. This section of the old highway is one of the oldest roads in the state of Washington. This road was built about 1839 after the Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC) began to farm on the Cowlitz Prairie. The PSAC was a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company. This road was originally about a mile long an ran between Simon Plamondon's farm, the Cowlitz Mission and the PSAC farm, which was known as the Cowlitz Farms. Plamondon was a retired HBC employee who arrived at Washougal 1816 and started work for the HBC. He and retired in 1837. John McLoughlin asked him if he would settle on the Cowlitz Prairie as the British were trying to establish settlements north of the Columbia so they could make the river the international boundary. Plamondon agreed and that was the beginning of the Cowlitz Settlement.

    The French-Canadian families living in the Willamette valley, petitioned in 1834 for Catholic priests. The priests were approved to come to Oregon and start a mission, but had to depend on the HBC to get them there. They agreed to transport them on the condition they build the church north of the Columbia at the Cowlitz settlement, to bolster the British presence north of the river. The church agreed to the request and Fathers Blanchet and Demers opened the Cowlitz Mission in 1839.

    This road was used to get from the settlement to the church.

    This section of road became the Pacific Highway in 1915 and the attached old photo was taken about a mile north of the Plamondon road.

    I attached a drawing of my best attempt at a duplication of the 1853 BLM map on a Google map.

    Happy trails




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  2. The Whipple Creek Crossing was a part of the main trunk wagon road from Vancouver, WA north to Olympia. built in the mid 1860's.  In 1900 this road became State Highway "1", then in 1915 it became the Pacific Highway. In 1921 this crossing was abandoned. Today A new bridge is being built in the spot of the old long gone wooden bridge.

    The Columbian wrote up a story on the Whipple Creek Crossing.


    My photos and article are at this link


    Happy trails


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  3. Hello

    In Clark County, Washington a new bridge over Whipple Creek is being built that will reconnect a portion of the old 1915 highway that is today's NE 10th Ave. just north of Vancouver, WA. The old bridge was removed in 1922 when the road was rerouted and this section was abandoned for almost 100 years. When most places are tearing up history here we have progress reconnecting a historic route.

    I added maps and photos on my website.


    As it gets warmer I plan to retrace the route again and report updates. I am now retired and can pursue my hobby.

  4. Excellent post Dave

    The ice age had carved out many features in our state. Being so close to the freeway makes this a nice little stop. The scenery is spectacular. 

    I have a old photo on the construction of the road. I am pretty sure it was taken in the same spot as your first one. The other is from where you enter the coulee. The third is from mt trip there.






  5. The First Fall City to Snoqualmie Road


    This is the original route from 1883 built by pioneer Jeremiah Borst that went up to where the train depot would be built before the NP made it there. The road continued on to Snoqualmie Ridge and down into Snoqualmie and the Borst property.


    This is the most feasible route to Snoqualmie from Fall City if you had to walk.


    The depot was built there because it was the best place due to the terrain but also it was because (my opinion) it was on the new county road between Snoqualmie and Fall City. There was no need to build a road as it was already there.


    Before that (1860s) The road was more of a cattle trail (while wagons could use it) from Fall City to the Borst Cabin over the Snoqualmie Ridge.


    In the 1850s people traveled to Seattle from Yakama pass along the Cedar River. In 1867 the road was changed to North Bend and Fall City over the Snoqualmie River route to the Snoqualmie Pass. The Cedar River route remained a footpath. That section to the cemetery may have been started then.


    From 1858 to 1865 Yakama Pass was referred as Snoqualmie Pass. Hence the confusion.


    This all coincides with the incorporation of Fall City. Most of the current streets are from the 1880's. And that little strip of road up to the cemetery was an original section of the Snoqualmie road to the pass that connected to the Toll Road in 1883.


    The Toll Road started at the Borst Cabin (about River street in Snoqualmie) then to Easton.


    This is the reason I think it is important. As it is the very first road east out of town when the town was first settled. It stayed that way until sometime into the 1890s I am still researching that part.


    Here are some of my findings to support my opinion.


    I saw an advertisement that pioneer Jeremiah Borst was selling tracts of his land in the 80s. I forgot to save that one and can't find it when I looked again.


    Borst in about 1877 had a vested interest in that section of road at the time. This is the year he have may begun the work.


    This is a snippet from the Wagon Road Act of 1875.

    SEC. 7. Whenever the sum of five thousand dollars shall have been realized, said commissioners shall meet as soon as practicable at the house of Jeremiah W. Borst, on Snoqualmie prairie, and after having been duly qualified as provided in section six, shall proceed to view and locate a road between the two points named in the first section of this act, by the nearest practicable route.


    Said trustee shall also receive said ten per cent. of said net proceeds, and without delay pay the same to E. P. Boyles, George Taylor and S. R. Geddis of Yakima county, and Jeremiah W. Borst and Rufus Stearns of King county, who are hereby constituted a board of commissioners to superintend the expenditure of all moneys realized for the benefit of said road, under the provisions of this act.


    He was to receive 10% of the proceeds for his work on the road. Even though the lotteries were cancelled I saw an article from 1878 that said $180 was spent on the road from the lottery proceeds.


    He must have built it regardless, due to the fact he would become rich selling his land as the price would increase if there was a highway from Seattle that came through his property. There already was a cattle trail so it just needed improvements. That is why the maps shows a trail between Fall City and Snoqualmie in the 1873. In 1873 the map shows the road finished just past where the depot was.


    This is why I believe that the strip is historically significant to Fall City and Snoqualmie.


    This was the very first wagon road to link the two towns.


    The maps show the abandoned road and the picture is from an intact part of it that leads up to the cemetery in Fall City. ( about 300 feet)


    My Snoqualmie Road page is up but i need to rewrite the history part.



    Happy trails






  6. Here are my latest then and now photos. They both were taken on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass.


    The road opened last week. There wasn't many downed trees. The water though was full of gravel but the water was flowing though it. The brush around the though had been cleared by someone so it is easy to spot.








  7. This is a report on the 4 mile stretch of the Yellowstone trail that has been abandoned since 1927. It lies northwest of Lake Easton, WA. I also took some photos of the 1927 bridge on the new alignment that replaced the ghost highway.


    Most of this road is so overgrown that in places it is just a footpath. We were able to walk or drive on all but the last mile which has not seen a car in almost 90 years.


    here is the link to the page.




    Happy Trails




    The B/W photo is looking eastbound with Little Kachess Lake in the Distance taken 4-29-2016 using photo editor


    The then and now photo is looking westbound. I am 90% certain this close to the same spot.





  8. Cremated Remains Found in Yellowstone Trail bridge


    There used to be a myth in the little town of Fall City which is just a few miles downstream from the beautiful Snoqualmie Falls. For over 60 years there was a rumor that there were two urns placed inside the old concrete bridge during construction in 1916. When the old bridge was being torn down in 1980, the two urns were discovered by a construction worker. This proved that the myth was in fact a true story.


    The Fall City Historical Society has published an excellent article on the bridges of Fall City. The 1980 story about the discovery of the two urns and how they came to be inside of the concrete bridge are on the last page.


    Click the below link to read the article.




    Link to Fall City Historical Society.



  9. Mystery of the missing switchback solved!


    The old photo below shows the hairpin curve on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass. I believe it was taken about 1915 when the Sunset Highway/Yellowstone Trail was opened for traffic.


    In the summer of 2013 my wife Leona and I met up with Dave (King of the Road) and his wife Sheila for a trip up the pass to look for the water trough. While we were there I noticed that the upper switchback near where the trough is didn't quite match the alignment that was in the photo below. I was telling Dave that maybe it was just realigned some time in the past. This has always bothered me and I had to know what happened.


    While I was sitting by the computer last week. I was doing some research and looking at some old county maps. I noticed on one of them showing 3 switchbacks on the west side of the pass. I thought this missing switchback had to be the one that the old photo was showing.


    I have some 1915 county survey maps of the pass and they only showed 2 switchbacks. I then realized that one section was missing. So going back to the county website I was able to find a map of the pass from 1926. The highway was realigned in 1926 using the old Milwaukee Road right of way that was abandoned after the tunnel was built. This new alignment bypassed all the switchbacks.


    As you can see from that survey map below that the old road connects to the new alignment at this 3rd switchback. Looking at a 1958 aerial I was able to confirm that indeed this switchback existed. In the 1930's when the old road was completely bypassed they realigned this section of the old road so it would still be passable. This realignment straightened out this switchback.


    Following up with a look at the Google Satellite map of the pass I was able to spot the remains of the outer curve. Leona and I drove up there today but there was too much snow to reach the spot. looks like I will have to wait for spring.


    Now I know just where that old photo was taken. Mystery solved!






  10. Once again a great story! I have travelled this route for many years on my motorcycle long before I knew anything about the Yellowstone Trail. I always enjoyed this road for the scenery and the curves. Even back then I admired and have been intriged by those tunnels and the old alignment. It is nice to see it documented.


    Thanks Dave as you certainly keep the show on the road.



  11. Hello Everyone,


    I want to dedicate this story to "Keep the Show on the Road" Dave. For the intial discovery of the existence of this trough, which steered me in the direction to find this artifact and in helping me write the story and come up with a snappy title for it. Dave has been a great help to me in honing my skills as a road historian and writer.


    Thanks Dave!!!!!!


    No Beer at this Yellowstone Trail Watering Hole


    Last week my wife Leona and I met with Dave and his wife Sheila for breakfast in North Bend, WA. After breakfast, we drove up to Snoqualmie Pass to explore the Yellowstone Trail (YT) / National Parks Highway (NPH) also known as the Sunset Highway. There is a segment of the original 1915 highway leading down the pass on the western side. Today this road is Forest Service Road 5800 or FS-5800.


    We were trying to locate (along with some other items) the old water trough used to fill radiators of the early autos that over-heated going across the pass as many did. Dave had told me about its existence. I never heard of a radiator fill trough before or knew that one was on the pass. Unfortunately, we were not able to locate the trough. The day was still exciting and we all had a great time exploring together.


    Saturday June 8th my wife and I drove up to the Denny Creek Campground. This is just below the second set of switchbacks on the western side of the pass next to the 1915 road. You can park there to take a hike on the many trails that originate there. Today we are going to hike up the pass on the Historic Wagon Road.

    This wagon road was the first route for wheeled vehicles over Snoqualmie Pass, which began in 1867. In 1905, the first auto crossed over the pass using this wagon road. In 1909 as part of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, there was a coast-to-coast automobile rally, which started in New York and raced to Seattle. The promoters claimed it to be the first transcontinental race of its kind and this rally would include a passage across Snoqualmie Pass.

    The Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition was a world's fair held in Seattle, publicizing the development of the Pacific Northwest.

    Only four of the six vehicles that departed New York were successful in traversing the Pass, and the accounts that exist today are remarkable.


    Snow and mud tortured the teams on the road across the pass, described by some accounts as “little more than a wagon road.” And it was in fact, a wagon road!


    Today you can hike a one-mile portion of this historic road. We began at the Denny Creek Campground and started up the hill. It is remarkable that you can still see the road very well in its original state. Yes, it is just wide enough for an old auto to pass through. Near the end of the one-mile journey, we discovered what appeared to be the remains of planking. This area is very wet and the use of planking would indeed be needed. There is so much vegetation over the rotting wood but I could make out some rows of boards where the water had washed out part of the ground.


    I also found what looks like a metal bracket possibly used to secure the planks but I do not know what it actually is. It was in the mud along side of the wooden planks so I wonder if it had anything to do with that.


    Numerous places huge trees have fallen and the folks who cleared the trail for hikers in the mid 1980 have just rerouted the trail around the large fallen trees. We walked along as much of the original route as we could.


    In the mile, we climbed 272 feet and the trail ended at the point of the lower curve in the upper switchback. I could see that the wagon road continued up the hill beyond this point but was impassable due to fallen trees. The trail makers must have decided that this was far enough of trail to maintain.


    From looking at the 1913 original blueprints for the upper switchback and comparing them to today’s map. I could see that the switchback was realigned. I also have a photo dated 1915 and it shows clearly the same alignment as the 1913 map. I believe that sometime after 1915 this part of the highway was upgraded. It could have been done in modern times but this will need more research.


    The Sunset Highway was dedicated in 1915 at the time the YT and NPH had reached Washington State. From 1905 until 1915, the early automobiles had to use the wagon road.


    From 1915 to 1925, you used this route (FS-5800) up the pass. In 1925, the Milwaukee Road had completed the tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass to Hyak. In 1926, the road was realigned to go across the river at the point were FS-5800 begins. The new route crosses the river on what is now FS-9034. The bridge that this new alignment uses is the bridge that Dave had photographed with me pointing to the old railing in the river. Then the highway went up the pass on the old railroad grade to the summit. This segment is now the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 going up the western side of the pass to the summit.


    We still didn’t find the water trough.


    The next day we decided to go back and look for the elusive water trough.


    We parked near where our earlier expedition with Dave and Sheila had parked to look for the trough. I had read a report that it would be near where the 1915 road reached the trees after going down past the upper switchback. We walked up and down where we had walked last week. To no avail, so I stopped for a moment looking for the wife as she had wandered into the woods and I could not see where she had gone. Then I said to myself while waiting for the wife to pop out of the forest that it had to be over where the trees had started from the clearing and I should try one more time. As I walked back up the road, I noticed a piece of rock that had a squared edge. I scraped some muck from the top and noticed it was flat and longer than it looked. I yelled for the wife and got no reply. I walked back down to find her and let her know that I had found something.


    I heard her say something I should not type into this story as she was struck by a thorn going through the brush while trying to get back to the road.


    We then walked back up the road and I showed her what I had found. We were not completely sure what it was. It looked like an ordinary concrete block. It was completely covered with weeds and mud. We could see the concrete I exposed but when we stuck a pry bar into the middle, it went right down into mud. Eureka!


    We both cleared the weeds and mud with our hands breaking loose the sediment inside the trough with the metal bar we had. We were able to clear enough muck away from the trough so we could get some photos of it.


    Now it is easy to find and for many, to pass by and wonder what the heck it is.


    Link to all photos and maps of the trip - http://www.ilwu19.com/sunsethwy/pass.htm


    Link to just photos of the wagon road - http://www.ilwu19.com/sunsethwy/wagon.htm



  12. Great article Dave! You did a great job telling about our trip. Leona and I had a great time with you and Sheila exploring the area. Too bad we didn't find the trough. Oh well it gives us an excuse to go back.


    You forgot to tel everyone about the Ranger at the State park. He must have had a bad day or what? I guess he was grumpy because he had to work that day.


    Anyways we look forward to our next adventure together.

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