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Map Of Yellowstone Trail And National Parks Highway Abandoned Alignments In Washington

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The National Parks Highway, and later, the Yellowstone Trail followed the Sunset Highway route between Spokane and Waterville (and points west). The map below shows in blue where the 1917-19 alignment differs from the modern US2 alignment. It is a first iteration, subject to revision.

 

This is the work of a couple of hours comparing the 1917-19 Western Washington Automobile Association strip maps in my collection with the current route on Delorme, using also Google Earth for reference. I left out additional “probable” blue line sections for future research consideration.

 

What this map set certainly demonstrates is that this route is rich in old alignments that can still be easily followed. I have followed some over the years, with great satisfaction. Others remain for future visits.

 

Eric and I both have pointed out that this alignment is the (1913 and after) route of the Sunset Highway (Washington State nomenclature), of the (1915 or so) National Parks Highway, and the (1925 and after) Yellowstone Trail. In the context of transcontinental auto trails, specifically the National Parks Highway, this is virgin dirt, salt of the earth, the good stuff…if you wish.

 

Incidentally, neither the Yellowstone Trail nor the National Parks Highway can claim this to be its creation, but then I think it is fair to say that no roadway was created by either anywhere anyway. Both used existing roads, and this one is no exception.

 

I want to comment on something I hope one of our trailblazers will look at. The 5th map below shows a section of the old road that going east to west, drops down the east side of Moses Coulee via Sulphur Springs Road (abandoned, I think) and then up the other (west) side.

 

That is especially interesting because there is a post office (Spencer) that appears to have been located in that area, and if memory serves, perhaps a hotel. I’m thinking that deserves a look see.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Here are the maps:

 

NPHMapMainRev.jpg

 

NPHMap001.jpg

 

NPHMapRev002.jpg

 

NPHMapRev002A.jpg

 

NPHMapRev002B.jpg

 

NPHMapRev003.jpg

 

NPHMap004.jpg

 

NPHMap005.jpg

 

NPHMap006.jpg

 

NPHMap007.jpg

 

NPHMap008.jpg

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Great work on the YT route in eastern Washington! I am so pleased to see others working at it! I can't spend time on it now (big things afoot in our lives until July) but I couldn't help comparing your maps with my draft maps. Pretty good match! Some notes: 1) I think the YT followed Main to the west out of Davenport, south on Leffel (or Rambo, now I guess) and west on "primitive" Mt View Cemetery Rd. 2) YT entered Almira from the east on Main, exited on Maxwell Rd with several turns, then to US 2 on what Delorme calls X NE Rd. 3) I don't have R NE Rd and 36 NE Rd going into Coulee City. Might be a route earlier than the 1927 Auto Club of Southern Calif info I have that has the YT following US 2 to near Coulee City and following Fordair Rd to the lake. Got to be a story about the name Fordair. Then south on 38 NE or I 8, then west on 36 or Walnut. At an unknown street it returned to US 2 in town. 4) I have the YT heading north from Coulee City into the lake and wiggling west north of US 2 and dropping down to Sulphur Canyon. If this is right, it probably followed what is now 1 Rd NE, but much of it is unmapped now. 5) I missed all the Sulphur Canyon routes you have. Maybe they were before 1917?

 

We agree on all the rest. Has anyone tried Pine Canyon road? It was closed when we attempted that part of the old YT. Also, we have have the YT crossing the river on the 9th street bridge in Wenatchee. That was apparently the only bridge available?

 

More in July or later.

 

John (YT Trailman)

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I forgot to mention the old concrete on Sunset Rd between Reardon and Deep Creek that has a construction date stamped in it -- 1928 -- I seem to remember. It now looks like it is un kempt and on private property, but it is probably still a local road.

 

YT Trailman

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I forgot to mention the old concrete on Sunset Rd between Reardon and Deep Creek that has a construction date stamped in it -- 1928 -- I seem to remember. It now looks like it is un kempt and on private property, but it is probably still a local road.

 

YT Trailman

 

John,

 

Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I will compare the notes in your reply with my “quick maps” effort and adjust accordingly. I also have the relevant 1915-16, 1917, and 1919 ABB's and some later ones, so I want to compare them with my contemporary maps. I didn't have the ABB's at hand in the motel when I was doing the "quick maps."

 

My purpose was to map the National Parks Highway as close to its inception as my maps permitted, which was the 1917-19 auto club map set. I recognized that by the time the Yellowstone Trial adopted this route (1925, right?) there probably had been changes made. I would assume that your excellent work captures the later period, and I infer from your comment that you may be using a 1927 source (ACSC), which would better describe the Yellowstone Trail era.

 

One of the things I hope to do soon is look at the Frank W. Guilbert/ Inland Automobile Club collection in Spokane. Have you and Alice been through that material? If so, do you consider it worth a drive across the state to peruse?

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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Dave!

 

This is great! My goodness, I'm really excited about this!

 

John has a lot of good suggestions, the Mt. View Cemetery one is the only one that I can recall from the top of my head.

 

I'm going to update my maps based on yours fairly directly.

 

The road going up Moses Coulee is practically on top of (or under) US 2. At the top, there's Sulpher Springs Road and as far as I could tell, it's not accessible. Maybe heading west it is. It's definitely walkable and would be a fun little loop to check out. We'll be doing that soon enough.

 

Off I go!

 

Edit - well whaddya know... I *did* use Rambo > Mt View Cemetery RD on my maps! But how did the YT get through Davenport to Main ST?

 

What of Chip Dump Road near Creston? I'm betting yes on that one. The name is great, too.

 

I agree with John on the alignment west of Almira. The X Road is named Childers RD on GoogleMaps.

 

John's routing from Grand Coulee to Moses Coulee (which would have been 12 RD NE > L RD NE > 1 RD NE down into Moses Coulee) seems plausible as an early alignment, but as a later one?

 

And yes, the Roads took 9th Ave in East Wenachee to Bridge ST in Wenachee. That bridge is still there, but it's now used for some sort of pipes or something.

 

Also, what is/where is Pine Canyon RD? I haven't come across it.

Edited by sit properly

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The two pages below are from my 1915-16 Automobile Blue Book and describe the Sunset Trail at the time it was adopted as the route of the National Parks Highway. My initial study of it this afternoon led to my adding considerably to the “abandoned” alignments that someone might follow. The longest (16 miles) is from Waterville eastward, but there is also an extra stair step east and north of Coulee City.

 

ARWatervilleAlmira1915-16ABB.jpg

 

 

ARAlmiraSpokane.jpg

 

 

 

Rather than repost all the maps, I will update and repost above those that have changed since my initial effort. It is important to keep in mind this is the National Parks Highway’s early alignment and not the evolved and changed alignment of the time this route also became the route of the Yellowstone Trail.

 

I haven’t yet resolved to my satisfaction the 1916 -19 route of the NPH west of Davenport. The 1915 – 16 ABB has it leaving town very likely on Main Street, but turning left (south) for a distance, and then right (west) at the cemetery. That would place it on a roadway (southward) which isn’t there today, along the east margin of the cemetery. It is a small matter, and I will leave it unresolved.

 

The big disappointment today was that I can’t say with certainty how cars crossed the Moses Coulee in 1915-16 and therefore can’t yet fix the location of the hotel. It is relatively easy to trace one prominent old alignment on Google Earth. But the distances from the ABB were way off for me, both directions, when I tracked that line.

 

I did come up with an alternate route that comes closer to fitting, but it requires several assumptions that exceed my tolerance for error. Finally, a 1918 army topo map at Washington State University (and among historic topos on Google) fits nothing else! The only consistent agreement on the maps and the ABB are the entry and exit points.

 

So I’ll just post the ABB directions and let others (Eric!?) have a hand at it.

 

Eric, Pine Canyon is the road down the canyon west of Waterville. I think some of the other questions are answered in the 1915-16 ABB, like the route through Davenport on Main...if you can find the High School let me know.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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Ok, looks to me that the motel would have been in the coulee.

 

Here is my googlemap of it.

B = Hotel (at 3.8 miles from A, which is "Turn Left along telephone line")

C = Summit at 7.3

 

The mileage matches perfectly.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source...e=UTF8&z=14

 

 

 

It looks like the old road followed RD 2 out of Davenport. I was going to add all this stuff to my maps (and I still might), but I think I might just make a whole map from the ABB pages you just posted. Sure, why not? But for now, what do you think?

 

 

 

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Ok, here we go.

 

From Waterville (Hotel) to Govan.

 

From Govan to Reardon.

 

Notes: The routing through Coulee City is confusing. I believe the Depot was on 8th and Main. I think the old road came into Coulee City (heading east) on 8th. You can't really see it now because of the dam. At the east end of Coulee City where you "swing right on county road" has me confused. There doesn't even look like there's a trace of old road there. This would all make sense if Locust Street used to be Main Street. Then it could swing right to get back on 36 RD NE, crossing the railroad where it's supposed to. This would also make sense if it would "Swing left" rather than "Swing right." Is that possible?

Here is a picture of the Depot.

 

Going east into Almira, where US 2 curves left, the old road went straight, ending at Childers RD. From there it turned left (as per ABB)

 

In Davenport, according to the mileage, it would seem like the old road turned left on 12th Ave (Modern WA 28). I can't find where the old high school was, but I'm betting 12th and Maxwell. Somehow it got from Morgan ST to Sinclair ST via a "left fork" that is no longer there. I have it going up 8th, but that's not right. However, it was somewhere right before that, I think.

 

 

I'm pretty sure about all of this, according to the ABB.

 

Thoughts, please?

 

-Eric

Edited by sit properly

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Ok, looks to me that the motel would have been in the coulee.

 

Here is my googlemap of it.

B = Hotel (at 3.8 miles from A, which is "Turn Left along telephone line")

C = Summit at 7.3

 

The mileage matches perfectly.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source...e=UTF8&z=14

 

 

 

It looks like the old road followed RD 2 out of Davenport. I was going to add all this stuff to my maps (and I still might), but I think I might just make a whole map from the ABB pages you just posted. Sure, why not? But for now, what do you think?

 

Eric,

 

The good and bad news is as follows.

 

The good news is that your analysis helped break one of my key blind spots. The bad news is I am not yet convinced we have it resolved.

 

The blind spot you helped me see is that I was thinking of the base of the gulch as the place where you leveled off after a steep drop down the gulch. But the base of the gulch may be the lowest place in the coulee, not the bottom of the cliff. Or it may be two places! Note that the distance from the hotel to the base of the grade changes from .4 going east to .6 going west! Foot of grade to hotel going west is .6 miles. But going east you start up the grade at .4 miles east of the hotel! Was the hotel on wheels?

 

I remain uncertain how to make that fit. And by the way, eastbound, where is the right turn at 21.8 that takes you past the hotel also on the right at 22.0? Going the other way (west), if the hotel is at B, why turn left just past it?

 

I’m not denying that point B is 3.8 miles from a known point A, along the most evident alignment. But there is also another alignment that is fairly evident that comes down further east and is shorter, which would put point B further east. It would have required less grading. Do you recall the cuts on the alignment we both drove? That suggests a later construction date (but it might be just an improved road too).

 

One other “problem” comes to mind. It is difficult for me to fix the summit on the east side. The road continues to climb for a long distance. That makes any effort to measure a distance based on the east summit pretty speculative.

 

Adding to the confusion, while these is evidently an alignment parallel to US2 at the top of the east side of the Coulee that leads into Sulpher Springs, the 1918 Army topo map (below) has a road enter Sulpher Springs (gulch) from the northeast! That ruined my whole effort to fix an east summit! By the way, the Army Topo doesn’t win prizes for spatial accuracy, but it probably didn’t leave out 2 miles of Sunset Highway….at least I hope not! Sunset Highway might have been along the northern continuous road on the Army Topo.

 

One of the fun things about this stuff is that at some moment in time it is likely to all snap into place…..but it hasn’t yet for me. If you are confident you have it nailed, walk me through it again.

 

What I think I can be confident of is that the Sunset Highway crossed Moses Coulee, and at least one prior alignment was along the route that we both recognize (and is very evident on Google Earth). There was a hotel and post office somewhere in or near the flat bottom of the Coulee, it was beside the road, its name was Spencer, and it is no longer there.

 

That’s all folks……

 

ArmyTopo.jpg

 

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

 

 

 

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Ok, here we go.

 

From Waterville (Hotel) to Govan.

 

From Govan to Reardon.

 

Notes: The routing through Coulee City is confusing. I believe the Depot was on 8th and Main. I think the old road came into Coulee City (heading east) on 8th. You can't really see it now because of the dam. At the east end of Coulee City where you "swing right on county road" has me confused. There doesn't even look like there's a trace of old road there. This would all make sense if Locust Street used to be Main Street. Then it could swing right to get back on 36 RD NE, crossing the railroad where it's supposed to. This would also make sense if it would "Swing left" rather than "Swing right." Is that possible?

Here is a picture of the Depot.

 

Going east into Almira, where US 2 curves left, the old road went straight, ending at Childers RD. From there it turned left (as per ABB)

 

In Davenport, according to the mileage, it would seem like the old road turned left on 12th Ave (Modern WA 28). I can't find where the old high school was, but I'm betting 12th and Maxwell. Somehow it got from Morgan ST to Sinclair ST via a "left fork" that is no longer there. I have it going up 8th, but that's not right. However, it was somewhere right before that, I think.

 

 

I'm pretty sure about all of this, according to the ABB.

 

Thoughts, please?

 

-Eric

 

 

 

Eric,

 

Gees, you are one speedy mapper!

 

Regarding Waterville to Govan:

 

I think you are close to nailing it!

 

Why did you decide to backtrack from the famous point A and take a diagonal along US2 entering Moses Coulee from the west?

 

Depending on the year you are tracking, you might add the extra stair step northeast of Coulee City.

 

Now that you have seen the 1918 Army Topo, where are you going to place the road east of Moses Coulee? See below a 1923 Western Washington Auto Club map. It may help. I don’t know which of the two choices was used in 1915-16..

 

I have to get some “honey does” done, so I must leave comments on other sections until later. Oh, I liked the depot photo.

 

WG.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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Ok, there's a lot here and I've got some "honey do's" of my own (but sadly, no honeydews).

 

My mapping of Moses Coulee was based on two known points (A and C). A was the turn that we both agree on and C was the summit. I remember the summit very well because the old road came over my left shoulder right when we got to the top. I'm accurate within a tenth of a mile (you know, probably).

 

That doesn't mean that this is the alignment, of course, but the numbers, including the summit, match up.

 

As for the "turn left, turn right".. honestly, you got me there. Unless they mixed up right and left, it doesn't make sense. Everything matches but that (which means nothing matches, I guess).

 

I was wondering about it going east from Sulpher Springs Rd to a "missing" road to 1 RD NE, as the Army Topo map suggests. This "confirms" that, but I'm not sure now. Also, the army topo places the route through the western slope of the coulee where we both have driven. If there was an earlier alignment, I don't think we've seen it mapped or described in the ABBs.

 

If the route used the "missing" road > 1 RD NE, the summit would be about .1 miles after Googlemaps starts to recognize the road leading to 1 RD NE. This is all confusing and I think may only be solved with a visit to the land.

 

It was all snapping into place and now I'm confused. I'm not convinced that there was another alignment going into the coulee from the west, but still... something ain't right.

 

-Eric

 

 

 

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Eric,

 

Well, “buddy” you ain’t the only one a little confused! The “north road” shown on the Army Topo is (somewhat) reinforced by the map below, which is the route index map for the 1915-16 ABB. It helps about as much as it confuses. I can’t make Google Earth show me a road that works. Must be their fault! :rolleyes:

 

But, the only “sure” ID is yours….unless the old road took the other alignment. Then I have a different site.

 

I’m finished with stay at home mapping for now! We have 85% good stuff, thanks in large part to you and John. The weather report is for sunshine this weekend. There is a point when it comes time to take to the road! It is work in the yard on Saturday and Sunday or explore the old roads…..gees, I can’t decide which to do! I hope to get out.

 

If you are out on the road, look for me. With a little luck, and permission from "she who must be obeyed" :P:D (she is realy a cuitie) I’ll be the “chunky” old guy trying to drive a sedan over rocks and ruts on those alignments we have been discussing.

 

AR1915-16ABBMap.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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And onto the next...

 

"A" on my first map is at the corner of Baseline RD NE And A RD NE, on the bigger map, it's there too. All of the first map is including in the second map without a difference.

 

But the 1923 map you posted gives us our answers! Check it out. See the road going east off the Sulpher Springs switchback? That attaches to what must be 1RD!

 

So in 1923, that eastern (original 1915) road wasn't the main road, but it was still there.

 

 

My "conclusion" based on the maps (not on mileage) is that in 1915, the old road connected to 1 RD NE. It then took a right on Woods RD NE and then a left on 12 RD NE, connecting back to US 2.

 

Ok...

 

27.9 - Turn Right where Telephone Line turns left

From there, according to ABB, it's 10.2 miles to...

38.1 - Right Fork, descending through gulch.

 

Map - east of Moses Coulee

 

To the end of the mapped road on GoogleMaps, it's 9.4 miles. Another .8 miles (roughly) and you're back on the Sulphur Spring loop.

 

That explains how it went from US 2, west to the top of the eastern end of Moses Coulee.

 

As for the Hotel and exactly how it went through the Coulee in 1915, we are dealing with roads that are no longer there.

 

The Army Topo was confusing, but it's just showing what we already know. It's just a bit simplified. I don't think it's anything that isn't there anymore (with the exception of the road connecting 1 RD NE to Sulphur Springs RD). The ominous fork in the road where one branch goes northwest and the other goes southwest (which is missing from the 1923 map) is where the YT met with and old alignment of Moses Coulee RD. You can see that pretty easily on Google Earth. I'm speculating on the old Moses Coulee RD alignment, but it makes sense.

 

Aside from where the hotel and the weird left/right turns were, we've got it! (haha)

 

More than likely, the left/right turns have been cut and made into a curve or something. I see zero evidence of that, but with flooding and weather, etc, the old traces may be long gone.

 

 

Here is what we know (from the ABB)

 

Starting at the junction of Baseline and A RD NE (where we take a left onto Baseline) (18.2) - it's 7.3 miles to the eastern summit.

 

it's .6 miles to the summit of the western side

2.7 more miles to the left at the foot of the grade

.3 miles from that to the right turn

.2 more miles to the hotel

.4 miles to the foot of the grade coming down the eastern side

3.1 miles to the summit.

 

Ok, 2.7 miles from the summit is where the road takes a very hard right. Is it possible that this used to be an intersection where you could also turn left? It's hard to tell, but maybe. And .3 miles after that, if it took a right, would you reach the foot of the eastern slope in .6 miles?

 

Again, these roads are either no longer there or the ABB is completely insane.

 

My vote is that you just can't see it or do it via maps anymore.

 

-Eric

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HA! We came to the same conclusion, which is basically "can't be done without going there."

 

I don't think I'll be heading out there this weekend, but if you do, I bet you'll figure it out.

 

If there was a hotel there, there has to be photos somewhere. The Spencer Post Office was there from 1911 - 1918. It seems like it was related to the railroad.

Edited by sit properly

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Here I go dredging up old posts again, but I'm not sure if Dave (or anyone else interested) really looked at this map...

 

This shows the "exact" location of the Spencer Post Office in 1915. Not only that, it shows the telephone line (which both Dave and I found) and has a fairly accurate routing of the Yellowstone Trail Road.

 

This map is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the "Sulfur Spring Loop" isn't there. That mostly seen here - where Sulphur Springs is noted and the loop can be seen to be "incomplete." - in the bottom right corner.

 

For awhile now, I've thought that the original alignment used the western part of the loop and then shot north east prior to "looping." It then leveled out in more of an easterly direction. Interestingly, a map of 1918 shows the more southerly route (now US 2) as ending, leaving me to think that the more northerly route (heading east out of the coulee - as seen here - bottom left corner) was the first road of choice - following the telephone line.

 

So anyway, I've not held this up against the ABB directions, but thought that it would be fun to do so at some point.

 

I may be heading back out there next week. I've a friend visiting and it's up to him.

 

-Eric

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm pretty sure I've figured out exactly where the PO is. It's not on any easy-to-get-to road at all. It's probably mostly cover by sage brush, etc. Find the PO and you've found the motel.

 

I hope that I can get there Wed or Thur. This is great.

 

-Eric

 

 

ps - The church and cemetery (south west of the old road) would be fun to see too.

 

pps - Got bored and pasted the maps together. It's not perfect, but close to. Also, I've figured out the wacky routing on this map. Next is making it work on Googlemaps and then in real life. It's a big jpeg (4mb-ish).

 

douglas.jpg

http://www.littleblackstar.com/otherstuff/douglas.jpg

 

 

ppps - After mapping this out, I went back to an older post because I remembered that I had a suspicion about the alignment just east of Sulphur Springs/Moses Coulee. Turns out my hunch was fairly right! Check it here.

 

As for the Coulee's western side, there was *definitely* an older alignment (traces of which can still be seen - the upper loop, for example). It was very close to the current old alignment.

 

My guess as to where the Post Office and Hotel was? Right at the intersection of Jameson Lake RD (which was part of the old alignment) and Sulphur Springs RD (which also was). Probably .2 miles east of there. On the right. :)

Edited by sit properly

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I'm pretty sure I've figured out exactly where the PO is. It's not on any easy-to-get-to road at all. It's probably mostly cover by sage brush, etc. Find the PO and you've found the motel.

 

I hope that I can get there Wed or Thur. This is great.

 

-Eric

 

 

ps - The church and cemetery (south west of the old road) would be fun to see too.

 

pps - Got bored and pasted the maps together. It's not perfect, but close to. Also, I've figured out the wacky routing on this map. Next is making it work on Googlemaps and then in real life. It's a big jpeg (4mb-ish).

 

douglas.jpg

http://www.littleblackstar.com/otherstuff/douglas.jpg

 

 

ppps - After mapping this out, I went back to an older post because I remembered that I had a suspicion about the alignment just east of Sulphur Springs/Moses Coulee. Turns out my hunch was fairly right! Check it here.

 

As for the Coulee's western side, there was *definitely* an older alignment (traces of which can still be seen - the upper loop, for example). It was very close to the current old alignment.

 

My guess as to where the Post Office and Hotel was? Right at the intersection of Jameson Lake RD (which was part of the old alignment) and Sulphur Springs RD (which also was). Probably .2 miles east of there. On the right. :)

 

Eric,

 

I returned to my easy chair about two hours ago, so I will now look closely at the maps.

 

We did a road trip over to Glacier NP and back, but returned over the spectacular North Cascades. I would have at least considered US2 instead, had I seen your post earlier! We were already in Sedro Wooly for the night when I read it.

 

Dave

 

 

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Eric,

 

I overlaid your excellent map work on Google Earth with the help of Earthpoint (I paid them $10, despite the message that pops up in the middle of the movie!!)

 

The movie showing the road using your mapping is on Youtube

.

 

The file was large and their compression was such that it may be hard to see details, and I know you won't be able to read the coordinates at tha bottom of the screen, so I uploaded it to my site and you can download a copy which is much clearer, but it is 10 MB large HERE. I would use Windows Media Player at full screen.

 

Nice work! Now all you have to do is walk to the post office site at 47.603120, 119.673934….or very close by. It is about .2 miles west of Jamison Lake Road.

 

Dave

 

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Dave,

 

Thanks so much! And thanks for the overlay video. Those make my day.

 

Hopefully we get out there this next week.

 

I was thinking that the PO/Motel was .2 miles *east* of Jameson Lake RD. I believe the 1915 maps to be a bit off. Were it seems on the overlay that the original alignment is just west of Jameson Lake RD, my opinion is that it *is* Jameson Lake RD. I could be wrong, but where Jameson Lake RD and Sulphur Springs RD meets seems like a good spot for the "turn left and Motel .2 miles on right".

 

But I could be wrong. I don't see any trace of old roads aside from that.

 

As for the Sulphur Springs loop, I'd like to believe that it used that road rather than the gully (which would be US 2, no?). This is where I believe the map to be off just a bit. I noticed that the little loop on the western edge of the Coulee is a bit out of scale, so I'm betting that it would throw it off.

 

Finding the old motel/Post Office location would solve this whole thing. But if you look at Jameson Lake Road as it leaves US 2 - I believe that to be part of the old road (or very very close). Then I believe that it made that right turn and the motel/PO were .2 miles east. The images from GoogleEarth seem to support this as they show the old road traces (and more importantly, show no trace of old roads where the 1915 map would suggest they were.

 

Great! I've got my work cut out for me, but I think we are ridiculously close to figuring this out. Actually, I think we've figured 90% of it out. Woo!

 

Next, we should find old pictures of Spencer. I wonder what the Douglas County Historical Society could do.

 

-Eric

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Eric,

 

It is certainly plausible that the old map you used isn’t exact, in fact it is almost certain that it isn’t. However….

 

On the west side, it conforms exactly with the route I believed the road followed, which goes through the switchback and then down the gully. That is one thing I would bet my dinner on.

 

There must be a way to send the overlay to you. The movie works, but if you could manipulate the transparency level of the overlay on Google Earth it would help a lot.

 

The only error is that the switchback is sharper in reality than on the old map, but it fits exactly and comes out at the bottom of the gully, where it should. When you revisit the site it will be clear as a bell, but it is also clear on Google Earth.

 

As for the eastern half…I yield to your expertise. There is a road on Google Earth that conforms quite well to the dip, but the straight east west section where Spencer is, isn’t so clear.

 

I want again to commend you on the nice map work. Like you said, I think you have it 90% and a little leg work should cinch it. Keep me in the loop.

 

OH, you will need to call ahead, but they might open the Douglas County Museum at Waterville on request.

 

My kudos to you!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

 

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Dave,

 

I totally agree with you on the western side. I admit, I doubted you a bit before, but this confirms it. Hoorah for you and hoorah for more alignments!

 

As far as the eastern side goes, well, you're probably right there too. I did an overlay myself, matching up the odd little dip in 1st RD NE just east of the coulee and A RD NE on the west side. I found that the 1915 map is a bit off. However, not as off as I first suspected. I now believe that the Sulpher Springs loop was not used, that it was a later alignment, bypassing the steep grade that is now probably *under* US 2.

 

On the 1915 map, aside from the western side's "loop" being a bit off, they also seem to have middle dip a bit off (or simplified). Also, the 1915 alignment (for lack of a better term) and the later alignment (we need dates!) probably met up after the later alignment returns from taking that longer, southerly jaunt as it descends the western side.

 

There appears to be no way to perfectly match up the 1915 map with modern day GoogleEarth. It works in sections, but not as a whole. However, this is the desert. If there was a road there in 1915, there *should* be physical evidence of it. The 1915 map is an amazing outline. GoogleEarth offers a great overview and a few wonderful hints. But being there and actually exploring is what will prove it beyond a doubt (hopefully).

 

So now I'm fairly confused. Where was Spencer PO? At this point, that little east-west straight stretch where it's supposed to be doesn't seem to be there at all. Unless the 1915 map has it as being more east-west than it really was. If you go to GoogleEarth and check out the "shiny" dirt road just north of US 2 and west of Jameson Lake RD... perhaps that is Spencer? Maybe that's the east-west straight stretch? It matches up on the map pretty well. Honestly, that is probably it.

 

But again, how did it get up the eastern side? That will take a visit.

 

Finding this 1915 map has been a curse! But a fun one.

 

-Eric

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Eric,

 

Spencer was a noted site on the Yellowstone Trail and the National Parks Highway maps, so it would be worth locating. I wanted to look in the Douglas County Museum myself, but got no reply from the woman who is the contact when I left her a phone message, so it may require a couple of calls before you go. It was closed when I was there in May.

 

BTW, with the Earthpoint section and township grids on Google Earth, you can align the old map and Google Earth images almost perfectly. The cost is about 25 cents per long session and the aid it provides is indispensable. Well worth the cost.

 

I think your map “fixes” Spenser quite well, but it is true that these old maps are more accurate nearer the section lines than in the middle of a section. I also looked at the elevation of the site above the watercourse on the west side of the coulee, wondering if perhaps the site had been washed away and the road obliterated in a wet year…the so called 100 year flood bit. Hard to say. But the place was mentioned into the 1930’s.

 

There is a dark pattern in the ground from about where the PO is on the map that goes to the east. It looks more like a dry stream than a road, but it runs across the coulee. Maybe that is the old road, perhaps modified by winter run off?

 

Keep me posted as to your plans. Maybe I could spring free and bring along a metal detector to help confirm the location. And I’d enjoy looking in the Museum. I have been in it a few times and enjoyed it…..and I just recalled I bought some very old newspapers there years ago……I wonder if they mention Spencer?

 

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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Dave,

 

I've also noticed the road that looks like a stream bed. And a washout makes a lot of sense, especially in a coulee.

 

The hours of the historical society seem pretty good in the summer (open tuesdays - sundays or something like that). But in the spring-winter-autumn, it's by appointment only.

 

You say "I also looked at the elevation of the site above the watercourse on the west side of the coulee...." and I'm not sure which site you're talking about.

 

 

One thing that neither of us mentioned is that the road that would eventually become modern US 2 was there at the time (or really close to it) and went to a race track, made a few turns and then went through Baird and met up, after a couple more turns, with the main traveled road. The 1915 alignment skipped Baird (as it skipped Douglas). I wonder why this was.

 

I'm not at all familiar with Earthpoint. I checked out their site and I'm assuming it somehow lines up old maps with GoogleEarth? Is this what you use?

 

Spencer was mentioned on the YT and on the NPH - that was into the 30s. How about the ABBs? How late did they publish and what did they say? There was obviously a motel there. The post office was gone by 1918. How about a garage? Cafe?

 

And what was Sulphur Springs? Was it really just a few springs?

 

I found some maps on the Douglas County site. The first allows you to see a topo map that's sort of older and has the "middle" alignment on it very clearly. You have to select to view topo, but it's worth it.

-It shows that the wash we were just talking about *is* (according to both the topo and the Douglas County mapping people) a stream.

-It also shows a well north of the alleged Spencer site.

Perhaps laying the 1915 map over this topo would be a fun way to kill an hour or so. You can select to only view topo. If you zoom in close enough, it reverts to an older topo that features the last alignment before modern US 2's current alignment (which I've been calling "The Middle Alignment" for lack of dates).

 

You'll also notice that, just north east of the Sulphur Springs loop is a spring. And a road. Could this be the old alignment and the 1915 map's idea of where Sulphur Springs was? It does seem a little too far north of where it should be, but worth a check.

 

Also, the church cemetery south west of the coulee (it's on th 1915 map) is shown to be St. Hubert Church. St. Hubert was the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers. If the church is still there, I wonder if they might have old photos, etc of the coulee, since it was so close.

 

Anyway,

 

The second is the Douglas County Road Atlas, a 63MB PDF ebook. You'll also want to download the Legend. Both are here. While this map doesn't tell you who owns the land, it does tell you which bits of land are public. There's a lot around there, in weird places, that is public land. For example, where I think you ran into the gate.

 

There are a few other maps on their site that I don't quite understand. You might be able to make use of them though.

Luckily for us, Douglas County is well mapped and uses an old topo. :)

 

Ok, so some lovely finds for a chilly morning.

 

-Eric

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Eric,

 

I hope you will excuse the short replies. I am debriefing from a week long trip and also trying to get some material together for some folks over in Stevens County. Let me answer your questions next to the text.

 

Before I do that, I think I mentioned I have a number of Douglas County newspapers from the old days. I have been trying to find mention of Spencer. I have a few to go, but have yet to find even one comment. It is especially telling that a 1910 newspaper map of the county, which shows polling places and towns, fails to show Spencer! The same issue (Big Bend Empire, September 8, 1910, published in Waterville) describes a meeting of county postmasters, and again no mention of Spencer. Hummmm!? I’ll keep looking.

 

As you no doubt know, these remote post offices were often located in a farm house where the wife was post mistress, and often the cook and hostess for a “hotel” which was located in the farmhouse. The Waterville – Coulee City Stage probably went by once a day, and perhaps dropped off mail. It’s schedule in the 1903 newspaper was to leave Waterville at 7:30 AM for the 40 mile trip to Coulee City, and arrive in Coulee City at 4PM. Sadly, no mention of stops.

 

After the start of the auto era (say about 1910-12) they (Spencer) perhaps had an out building where they stored oil and 5 gallon cans of gasoline. The post office might well have been an on and off again affair, so not being at a post office meeting in 1910 isn’t conclusive..

 

Dave,

 

I've also noticed the road that looks like a stream bed. And a washout makes a lot of sense, especially in a coulee.

 

The hours of the historical society seem pretty good in the summer (open tuesdays - sundays or something like that). But in the spring-winter-autumn, it's by appointment only. (Yes, and it may take some effort to get her attention.)

 

You say "I also looked at the elevation of the site above the watercourse on the west side of the coulee...." and I'm not sure which site you're talking about. (I was just looking at the Spencer PO site)

 

One thing that neither of us mentioned is that the road that would eventually become modern US 2 was there at the time (or really close to it) and went to a race track, made a few turns and then went through Baird and met up, after a couple more turns, with the main traveled road. The 1915 alignment skipped Baird (as it skipped Douglas). I wonder why this was. (Years ago I looked at that on a topo map and wondered why Douglas was left out….humm)

 

I'm not at all familiar with Earthpoint. I checked out their site and I'm assuming it somehow lines up old maps with GoogleEarth? Is this what you use? (Earthpoint is a must use tool for aligning overlays on Google Earth where the map you are overlaying has sections, township and range, as was common in old maps. Earthpoint lays out the section lines so the overlay can be sized and aligned with them.)

 

Spencer was mentioned on the YT and on the NPH - that was into the 30s. How about the ABBs? How late did they publish and what did they say? (the ABB folks were still around until the late 1920’s by which time turn by tutrn directions and supply details were not any longer needed) There was obviously a motel there. (See note above) The post office was gone by 1918. (How do you know?) How about a garage? Cafe? (All I recall at the moment is that a late, perhaps the last, YT map from the early 30’s and two NPH association maps from about 1917 and 1925 show it. I think a visit to the museum in Waterville is the best bet for details and I will check the ABB’s)

 

And what was Sulphur Springs? Was it really just a few springs? (I had that impression because your 1915 map didn’t show a building….but beyond that, I’m in the dark)

 

I found some maps on the Douglas County site. The first allows you to see a topo map that's sort of older and has the "middle" alignment on it very clearly. You have to select to view topo, but it's worth it. (I either missed that feature a couple of years ago, or it is new. Great!)

 

-It shows that the wash we were just talking about *is* (according to both the topo and the Douglas County mapping people) a stream. (I think we are looking at different streams. The one I noted runs east and west)-It also shows a well north of the alleged Spencer site. ( Quite a bit north)

 

Perhaps laying the 1915 map over this topo would be a fun way to kill an hour or so. You can select to only view topo. If you zoom in close enough, it reverts to an older topo that features the last alignment before modern US 2's current alignment (which I've been calling "The Middle Alignment" for lack of dates).

 

You'll also notice that, just north east of the Sulphur Springs loop is a spring. And a road. Could this be the old alignment and the 1915 map's idea of where Sulphur Springs was? It does seem a little too far north of where it should be, but worth a check.

 

Also, the church cemetery south west of the coulee (it's on th 1915 map) is shown to be St. Hubert Church. St. Hubert was the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians and metalworkers. If the church is still there, I wonder if they might have old photos, etc of the coulee, since it was so close.

 

Anyway,

 

The second is the Douglas County Road Atlas, a 63MB PDF ebook. You'll also want to download the Legend. Both are here. While this map doesn't tell you who owns the land, it does tell you which bits of land are public. There's a lot around there, in weird places, that is public land. For example, where I think you ran into the gate.

 

There are a few other maps on their site that I don't quite understand. You might be able to make use of them though.

Luckily for us, Douglas County is well mapped and uses an old topo.

 

Ok, so some lovely finds for a chilly morning.

 

-Eric

 

 

--------------------

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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