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


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Posts posted by yttrailman

  1. By 1914, the Yellowstone Trail Association had designated its western route as far as the Montana/Idaho border. A usable auto route was just being created over the Bitterroot Mountains that would allow the extension of the YT into Idaho and Washington.


    The YT route was not the first transportation route to cross in this area. Capt. Mullan built the Military Wagon Road from Fort Walla Walla ,Washington Territory, to Fort Benton, Dakota Territory, from 1858-c1862. It soon became known as the Mullan Millitary Road. Then the Northern Pacific built its tracks over Lookout Pass c1891 and made the primitive Mullan Road, over St. Regis Pass, obsolete. Maybe by 1915 and certainly by 1916 Yellowstone Trail auto traffic was following the Mullan Pass (misnamed -- Mullan was never there) just north of Lookout Pass.


    For some years a group of Mullan Road aficionados has met in the area for a Mullan Days Conference to visit, study, find, and enjoy this old road. The conference seems to grow and improve each year. It meets this year in Missoula May 3-5. Alice and I will be making one of the presentations. We will give the background history of the Trail in general, as much information as we can about the development of the Trail over the Bitterroots, and maps showing the relationship of the Trail to the Mullan Road. The stage will be set for our presentation by Bill Weikel of Missoula who will present "Transition from the original Mullan Road to successor roads through necessity, convenience, and law." Other presentations will be given that first day, May 3, about John Mullan, the impact of Glacial Lake Missoula on the route selection for the Mullan Road, and the history of the selection of the railroad route. The next two days are filled with field trips to the Mullan Road (from Missoula to the Idaho border), a wagon ride on a section of the Mullan Road, walks on the Road, dinner and luncheons at interesting places, discussions along the route, tour of the Mineral County Museum in Superior, and travel on the Camel's Hump. All of these events led by delightfully interesting people, some local, some from state departments of transportation, some from universities and museums, some from forestry services and others we don't know about. (We have not attended the conferences before, but we have met many of the participants and had very good times with them.)


    Keep in mind that this area is world class in terms of scenics and nature. Two lengthy bus field trips, three lunches, a dinner, and all the presentations for $45.


    It can't help but appear interesting! If you are interested, contact Kay Strombo, 406-822-4626 or mrshezzie@blackfoot.net, or Bill Weikel 406-728-4133. I have a copy of the preliminary conference brochure and I can attach one to an e-mail but it would be better if you get the true scoop from Kay.


    We're not part of the group so we can't extend a formal invitation but we sure would like to see and meet other Forum members there.







  2. There is so much of interest in this Forum and Keep the Show on the Road! (Dave) says so many nice things about us that I am filled with guilt for not participating more often. I have been saving up observations about a number of topics discussed here and I will do my best to comment in a more timely manner “soon.”


    But first: Back to the topic of the Zillah Teapot. We (meaning Alice) is busy writing an American Road blurb about that neat little filling station. Slowly the some of the pieces are falling together as we dig through all sorts of sources. I would like to ask two questions:


    1. Stories about the Teapot are few. If you know of any stories about travelers walking ten miles to get there after running out of gas or things like that would you be so kind as to share them?


    2. The application for listing on the historic register is clear about the station being moved to its present location in 1978 when I-82 was built but makes no mention of a 1930's move from Yakima. In fact, it is understood in the application that the Teapot was build in its Zillah location. Dave, Ray, or anyone: can you shed more light on its alleged previous move? Where did the idea come from? Must be some reason for the story.


    Another topic tomorrow.


    John Ridge (alias yttrailman)

  3. In Washington, today’s US 12 is generally contiguous with the pre 1925 Yellowstone Trail (YST) from Dodge (west of Pomeroy) through Dayton, Waitsburg, Walla Walla, Richland, Prosser, Grandview and , Yakima.

    By the way, when did the current US 12 take its number? On all my post 1926 atlases up through 1953 it is identified in Washington as US 410.


    In the meantime, Keep the Show on the Road!


    Right! I falsely remembered US 12 leaving the YT at Wallula Junction to head toward Oregon. 12 doesn't leave the YT until Yakima, then heads west.


    Another note, though. Just north of Yakima, near Selah, the YT followed Wenas Road and Umptanum Road to Ellensburg. That is a fine drive (much good gravel) that makes it easy to imagine traveling on the YT in 1920.

  4. That looks like a great place to check out.


    By the way, I am very interested in US-12. Is that part of the Yellowstone in Washington?


    The Yellowstone Trail (YT) follows modern US 12 (that is it weaves back and forth in the present corridor of US 12) A) from around Gary, Indiana to East Chicago, Indiana, B) from near Eau Claire, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota, C) from Ortonville, Minnesota (on the Minnesota/South Dakota border) to Plevna, Montana, D) from Miles City, Montana, to Forsyth, Montana, E) from Garrison, Montana to Missoula, Montana, and F) (along the pre-1925 Washingtion route) from Dodge, Washington, to Wallula (Junction), Washington. I think I got them all!


    The Waterville Hotel in Waterville, Washington, is on the post-1925 Washington route of the YT. Both routes are fascinating and worthy of slow travel.


    Maps in our web site (www.yellowstonetrail.org) cover some of the states. The maps are drafts. Contact us for other information about the YT or suggest errors or problems with the web maps. This forum is a good way to do that.


    yttrailman (John Ridge)

  5. John and Alice Ridge here.


    We recently returned from another trip over the Yellowstone Trail from our home in Wisconsin to Seattle. We had several goals. Foremost, we presented a program about the history of the Yellowstone Trail in Montana’s Yellowstone River valley at the Montana History Conference in Billings. Also, we needed pictures from along the Trail for our writing and there is always route checking in preparation for the detailed maps of the Trail. And we wanted to meet with lots of “friends of the YT” and members of the YT Association.


    The trip was a great experience and a real success – with a big exception: even the five weeks was not long enough to have time to contact most of the “friends of the Trail” and members we really wanted to meet with. To each of them we apologize. It was a real frustration to have to drive on by just to meet the next commitment.


    We will report about a few of the high points of the trip in the Arrow, the newsletter of the Yellowstone Trail Association. And, as we can, we’ll drop a few notes here in the American Road Forum.


    For now, a bit about the Billings meeting. As you know, the Trail began in South Dakota in 1912. (See www.yellowstonetrail.org for some of the basic history.) It was active in Montana by 1914 and played a major role in determining the location of the major east/west highway through the state. The YT Association’s 1914 book, “On the Yellowstone Trail,” called Billings “The metropolis of the midland empire,” as so it remains. It has great restaurants, attractions, and panoramic views from the rim rock. We gave our presentation to an interested audience of professional historians, history buffs, and teachers. We hope they each have an appreciation of the economic and cultural importance of the YT and of the potential of integrating local history with national history using the Trail as a theme.


    A second highlight of the meeting was the Saturday tour of the Huntley Project, one of the first and most successful federal government irrigation projects. Early travelers on the YT drove among the 40-acre homesteads sold to them for $34, payable over ten years without interest! Still very much alive with a great little museum to learn about every aspect of the project.


    Has anyone out there heard of the Huntley Project?

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