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Hit It Wide Open And Zig Zag The Steering Wheel!

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"Hit it wide open and zig zag your steering wheel." That's advice from the 1910 Oregon State Automobile Association Tour Book I just acquired. (See images below)

 

I doubt that there is an earlier automobile map set for Oregon. If there is, I hope someone will identify it for me. There are no doubt some USGS maps, and perhaps county atlases, but I can't think of any map collection prepared for auto travelers in Oregon before 1910.....and if one was, I would sure like to see it!

 

The maps themselves are treasures. Each is a strip map, and a few near the end of the book display the early symbols used by the prolific map services of the Automobile Club of Southern California on their early strip maps. In fact, I have a very similar 1911 Tour Book for California. It is identified in the forward as the second California Tour Book.

 

The "reality" is that there were few "automobile roads" in the Northwest in 1910. All the roads were wagon roads. In fact the "main" east west road in the eastern two thirds of Oregon in 1910 was roughly the original Oregon Trail (not the 1920's auto trail of that name)!!

 

Is it "fate" that I bought that old 4WD pickup this week also? The temptation to retrace the old main road calls out. It involves fording the John Day River at McDonald, or doing a very long detour. In the early auto days there was a ferry, but the route has long been just a farm road, with no reason for a bridge.

 

I have seen pickups cross the river at McDonald late in the summer. I wouldn't try it in the spring when the river is full, but maybe this Fall.....

 

A couple of pages from the book follow. Read the driving advice.....does that tell what it was like in 1910, or what!!!? :blink:

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

1910Guide.jpg

 

 

1910Map.jpg

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This is a fabulous find! You had to have a real sense of adventure to drive in Oregon in 1910! jim

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Wonderful. What a delightful glimpse of the reality of auto travel a century ago. With all those 18 & 20 percent grades, I imagine many cars were "wide open" in many places other than the sand bank. I hope that, as you go exploring in your new/old pickup, you remain aware of the difference between "wide open" on a Ford Model TT and F-150. Too aggressive a zig might not leave room for even one zag.

 

Incidentally, the original text uses the plural "steering wheels"; A small but possibly meaningful difference. For one thing, zig zag seems to make a little more sense when describing the motion of wheels on the ground plus the writer probably didn't want to exclude travelers with tillers from potential sales.

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That is pretty neat! Amazing that the cars could make over some of those grades. That's an adventure by today's standards. I liked some of the reference points too, "House surrounded by trees at bottom of hill," I'm going to guess it was sparsely populated. How did you find one that old? Antique store find or ebay or? Going to be anticipating hearing about your adventures!

 

Jason

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Wow...what a find, Dave!

 

Chuckled at how the "KEEP MOVING" was emphasized in the description.

 

 

 

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I've crossed the McDonald ford a couple of times. In the fall, before the Oregon rains return, the water is only about 6 inches deep. On the west side, the crossing is about 150 feet or so north of the house at the end of the road. There's a short farm road along the river leading to it. It may be on private property, I'm not sure, it's not posted, and no one ever tried to stop me from crossing. On the east side there's an Oregon Trail marker near the ford. It's pretty easy to find from both sides.

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Thyman,

 

Thanks for the post! And welcome!!

 

I have seen folks crossing at McDonalds but never felt my sedan was the best choice to try it!

 

It seems to me that a guy who has done it a couple of times must know the area reasonably well. I recall back when there was an abandoned store at Klondike (now gone I think) and a brick schoolhouse. Do you know if the schoolhouse is still standing?

 

There is a cable stand on the east side of the river, roughly across from the exit point on the west side. Do you happen to know if that stand was part of the auto ferry at that site?

 

That whole area is great country to explore.

 

Thanks again for your addition here! Hope to see you show up more.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Hi Dave -

 

I'm not sure if the cable stand is a remnant of the ferry, or if it is a remnant of those baskets suspended from a cable (don't know what they're called). I'm not 100% sure, but it seems like the first time I saw the ford about 15 years ago, there was one of those basket things.

 

You could make the ford in a sedan, but would probably get stuck on the east bank, it's all sand. I can't remember how steep the west bank is, or what the soil is like, but since nothing about it stands out, it's probably not very difficult. It sounds kind of silly, considering some of the more adventurous/reckless things I've done, but I really did get a thrill every time I crossed the ford.

 

The store and school are both gone. The brick school disappeared about ten years ago, I think the farmer who owns the property must have demolished it. One year it was there, looking fine, the next year it was gone.

 

Tim

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Tim,

 

Thanks for the comeback!

 

Sad news about the school. Both the store and the school were great reminders of the days when that countryside had small farms and big farm families. We were on the east side of the John day a few months ago and I agree about the problem with sand.

 

Many years ago, when I was last down the west side, there was still someone living on the west side of the crossing.

 

I hope you have more to share about that area.

 

Have you followed the Oregon Trail in the area? Where is your “home base?”

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Hi Dave -

 

Live in PDX - at least until I can sock away enough to escape. Have driven most of Oregon Trail (that is driveable) west of John Day River and parts east of the river.

 

Tim

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Tim,

 

If you have to live in the big city, Portland is one of the better ones. And headed east or west, you can get out of town pretty fast (not so easy north or south.)

 

I love the Oregon Trail. At one point I must have owned every book published from Parkman on. Eastern Oregon is a great trail follower's playground, and it sounds as though you have taken advantage of your relative proximity to enjoy it.

 

In my days in Bend (mid 60's to late 70's) you could still find abandoned settlers' cabins complete with their furniture and dishes dotting the eastern Oregon Landscape. A friend of mine (Keith Clark) wrote Terrible Trail: The Meek Cutoff, 1845 about an ill advised detour from the main Oregon Trail route. Keith, Lowell Tiller (co author) and I would go out and pick up ox shoes pretty easily along the route in those days. If you know the story, you will know we didn't find the Blue Bucket gold!

 

I guess all I can say is you will never regret a day spent “on the trail.

 

Thanks for the comment!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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