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Flyerboy

My Trip To Washington Dc

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It has been a very busy summer, and, thankfuly, it is slowing down a bit. I have not had much of a chance to comment on posts or even contribute, so I thought I would share with this forum a little about my recent trip to Washington DC. Rather, Maryland, specifically, to visit my son and his family and play with my grandkids. The last time I was there was at Christmas 2009 and since then I have a new grand daughter that is just 5 months old. It was quite a trip with many, many fond memories. However, whenever I venture back there, I always plan a side trip into the city and spend a full day at the Library of Congress. Mostly I spend the time in the photo archives, but in 2009, I spent part of the day in the map collection looking at old maps of Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. This is associated with my neverending quest to pin down any and all information I can dig up concerning the 1908 New York-Paris auto race as it pertains the the western states. It took two years, but I was able to follow-up on a couple of things that I stumbles upon in 2009.

 

First, I recopied some photos that I shot in 2009 that came out a little blurry. The LOC and the prints and photos archive will let you make a digital image of anything they have if you use it for research or study. Between 2008 and 2009, during two seperate trips, I uncovered an unknown collection of almost 350 original photos associated with the 1908 race. Apparently, before I looked at them, the last time this collection was accessed or viewed was in 1956. The photos are in a state of deterioration, so I wanted copies of all of them, so I could try and identify and date when they were shot. All are US photos and there are many that were shot in the west.

 

I also revisited and got some better images of an interesting map of Wyoming in the map collection. It is a 1908 Automobile Road Map of Wyoming, published by the Clason Map Co. of Denver. When I first signed on here, Dave suggested that this was a find as most of the scholarship about the Clason Map Co. suggested that they did not produce any automobile maps earlier than 1910 or so. Possibly, this then is just a generic map of Wyoming that shows mostly the railroad routes and wagon roads that was published in 1908. I viewed a similar one for Utah published the same year. It was just repurposed and overprinted with a new title and the best automobile routes in bright red at a later date. But not so. The LOC ascention stamp on both maps (there are 2) is dated July 15, 1908. Any way you slice it, this is a 1908 automobile road map of Wyoming, published by the Clason Map Co.

 

So here is what I think. The Clason Map Co. was responding to a very sudden and heightened awareness of drivable roads, and a new demand for information, especially through Wyoming, because of the New York-Paris auto race. E. Lynn Mathewson was a well known Denver auto dealer who had been chosen to drive the American entry, the Thomas Flyer, from Cheyenne to Ogden, Utah. A REO pilot car was to help with the western part of the race, also driven by a Denver resident named Martin Fletcher. Harold Brinker, also a Denverite, would take over the wheel of The Flyer at Ogden and take it on to the coast. The race concluded in July with the Thomas Flyer declared the winner, so the map was available before the end of the race. Maps like this, and the information they contained really helped launched the good roads movement in the west.

 

So that was my trip. Grand kids and the Library of Congress. It was a good trip.

Bob.

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Bob,

 

What a great trip!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Your discoveries are amazing. The photos are worthy of a book. What an exciting thing to find. That is a once in a lifetime, if that, discovery for someone doing research.

 

The map remains very interesting to me. Being a long time map "accumulator" (a "collector" has organization and knowledge) I have developed some notions of why and when things occurred. The 1908 Wyoming map pushes my timeline back.

 

I am not an authority on Clason's maps and my observation that a 1908 Clason's road map would get the attention of the experts is based on the information published here:

 

Clason's

 

 

I have copied the specific statement below, but the entire article is worth reading.

 

 

"It should be noted, however, that roads did not appear on the

attached guide maps until 1913. Before that time, only

railroads, rivers, cities, towns, country post offices, and

national forests had been depicted. Clason did not create

brand new maps from scratch to reflect the addition of the

highways in 1913. Rather, it followed the typical practice

of the period by simply and rather crudely overprinting the

highways in red over the existing guide maps, Two types of

roads in these early guides were delineated, typically

referred to as "Transcontinental Auto Roads" and "Local

Auto Roads"

 

In 1915, the addition of roads to the guide maps was

formally recognized when the cover title was changed to

Clason’s Guide to (state name) with Map of Auto Routes.

This was still two years before Rand McNally launched its

Auto Trails Map Series, which would ultimately prove to be

a formidable competitor."

 

Clason's at the time was based in Denver which would explain why their first five green guides, published in 1908, covered adjacent states. Is isn't likley that someone misplaced a later Clason's road map in the 1908 map cover, because you note the Library of Congress stamped the map as acquired in 1908. I think it would be interesting to contact the author of the above article, as he seems to definitely be interested in Clason's maps.

 

My interest is a little different, in that I try to get a "feel" for early auto travel, and a 1908 state road map by a "national" company upsets my apple cart a bit. I have the notion that there was very little long distance travel by automobile in 1908, outside perhaps the northeast, and perhaps California, and certainly not Wyoming. Local maps were available, and I could see some local map company or surveyor trying to produce a state auto map, but for Clason's to undertake the task, they had to have some anticipation of profit from numerous sales. And they had to have road data that I'm not aware were readily available. It makes A. L. Westgard's 1910-11 Overland Trail pathfinding more of a path following. :)

 

In any event, you have upset my "assumptions" and "theories" about early road maps in the west! And I appreciate that because it gives me something to pursue a bit. Thanks again for sharing!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Bob,

 

What a great trip!!! Thanks so much for sharing. Your discoveries are amazing. The photos are worthy of a book. What an exciting thing to find. That is a once in a lifetime, if that, discovery for someone doing research.

 

The map remains very interesting to me. Being a long time map "accumulator" (a "collector" has organization and knowledge) I have developed some notions of why and when things occurred. The 1908 Wyoming map pushes my timeline back.

 

I am not an authority on Clason's maps and my observation that a 1908 Clason's road map would get the attention of the experts is based on the information published here:

 

Clason's

 

 

I have copied the specific statement below, but the entire article is worth reading.

 

 

"It should be noted, however, that roads did not appear on the

attached guide maps until 1913. Before that time, only

railroads, rivers, cities, towns, country post offices, and

national forests had been depicted. Clason did not create

brand new maps from scratch to reflect the addition of the

highways in 1913. Rather, it followed the typical practice

of the period by simply and rather crudely overprinting the

highways in red over the existing guide maps, Two types of

roads in these early guides were delineated, typically

referred to as "Transcontinental Auto Roads" and "Local

Auto Roads"

 

In 1915, the addition of roads to the guide maps was

formally recognized when the cover title was changed to

Clason’s Guide to (state name) with Map of Auto Routes.

This was still two years before Rand McNally launched its

Auto Trails Map Series, which would ultimately prove to be

a formidable competitor."

 

Clason's at the time was based in Denver which would explain why their first five green guides, published in 1908, covered adjacent states. Is isn't likley that someone misplaced a later Clason's road map in the 1908 map cover, because you note the Library of Congress stamped the map as acquired in 1908. I think it would be interesting to contact the author of the above article, as he seems to definitely be interested in Clason's maps.

 

My interest is a little different, in that I try to get a "feel" for early auto travel, and a 1908 state road map by a "national" company upsets my apple cart a bit. I have the notion that there was very little long distance travel by automobile in 1908, outside perhaps the northeast, and perhaps California, and certainly not Wyoming. Local maps were available, and I could see some local map company or surveyor trying to produce a state auto map, but for Clason's to undertake the task, they had to have some anticipation of profit from numerous sales. And they had to have road data that I'm not aware were readily available. It makes A. L. Westgard's 1910-11 Overland Trail pathfinding more of a path following. :)

 

In any event, you have upset my "assumptions" and "theories" about early road maps in the west! And I appreciate that because it gives me something to pursue a bit. Thanks again for sharing!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave -

Thanks for reposting the link to the map collectors newsletter. It is very interesting reading. Don't be fooled about long distance travel by auto in the early days. There were many who were venturing out, especially in the west. In Wyoming men like Elmer Lovejoy and Payson Spaulding were travelling far afield in their frail machines. Utah also had a number of epic journeys by L.H. Becraft and others. All very interesting paths of research. My intent is to find the facts about this early Clason roadmap and I will post what I find out on this forum.

 

I noted that within the last year, the New York-Paris trove of 350 photos has been listed in the on-line catalog and even a few photos from the group have been scanned. It is just the tip of the iceberg though. Most of the information about the photos such as who took them and when is incorrect. I am making my own catalog and putting the photos in a chronological order and attempting to identify locations and faces in the photos. Having studied this event for as long as I have, I can just about do that for every photo. You said it warrants a book. I think so, and I have been working a manuscript about the western portion for the race for about 2 years. Just takes time and concentration and the occasional trip back east.

Bob.

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Bob,

 

The book project sounds wonderful but the only help I can give in encouragement.

 

Regarding the LOC, I have to confess to never being there. But I will be in the DC area in a couple of weeks and maybe that's a good time to pay a visit. I won't have any particular goal other than seeing the place and learning something of its workings. What advice can you give the rookie.

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Bob,

 

A great book idea!

 

As a footnote to our map discussion, Harold A. Meeks in his book "On the Road to Yellowstone" states "George Clason began map production in Denver about 1906 and in 1908 had a series of state maps that showed some roads." That affirms your discovery.

 

On reflection, I suppose I should not be surprised with a 1908 map showing some auto roads. Wyoming and other states had well established wagon freight and emigrant trails, mapped at small scale, and sometimes at larger scale at the county and township level, certainly by the late 1800's. One is easy to find on the American Memory LOC site. Marking some of these as automobile routes would be an easy task.

 

That aside, whatever roads he did incorporate must have had some significance. Your citation of the 1908 race as a contributing factor is a persuasive view, but I don't suppose the only road on Clason's 1908 maps is the race route. I suppose the emigrant trail known now as the Oregon Trail would have been on a road map, but it would be interesting to know which other roads he considered auto routes. More fun! Thanks!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Bob,

 

The book project sounds wonderful but the only help I can give in encouragement.

 

Regarding the LOC, I have to confess to never being there. But I will be in the DC area in a couple of weeks and maybe that's a good time to pay a visit. I won't have any particular goal other than seeing the place and learning something of its workings. What advice can you give the rookie.

DennyG -

The LOC is an incredible place. When I first went there in 2008, I did not know what to expect. I believe you can take a self guided tour of the general collections in both buildings. But if you think there is anything you might want to investigate, I would urge you to go through the security screening and application process and obtain a reader card. This will get you access to all the various collections. It takes about a half an hour to obtain a card and it is good for 2 years. It costs nothing. Most, if not all of the collections are in secured areas and this will get you into just about everything. I think you should go with a specific goal or topic to research, if only for a few hours, and I am positive you will get hooked and want to get back there again.

Bob.

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Bob,

 

A great book idea!

 

As a footnote to our map discussion, Harold A. Meeks in his book "On the Road to Yellowstone" states "George Clason began map production in Denver about 1906 and in 1908 had a series of state maps that showed some roads." That affirms your discovery.

 

On reflection, I suppose I should not be surprised with a 1908 map showing some auto roads. Wyoming and other states had well established wagon freight and emigrant trails, mapped at small scale, and sometimes at larger scale at the county and township level, certainly by the late 1800's. One is easy to find on the American Memory LOC site. Marking some of these as automobile routes would be an easy task.

 

That aside, whatever roads he did incorporate must have had some significance. Your citation of the 1908 race as a contributing factor is a persuasive view, but I don't suppose the only road on Clason's 1908 maps is the race route. I suppose the emigrant trail known now as the Oregon Trail would have been on a road map, but it would be interesting to know which other roads he considered auto routes. More fun! Thanks!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

Dave -

I have yet to edit the photos I shot at the LOC, but I may try and post a shot or two of the Clason map when I figure out how to do it correctly. The 1908 map shows many wagon roads all through Wyoming, but the "Best auto roads" over-printed in red are not that extensive. Seems to be very selective, actually. Of course, the main route is the southern one, following the UP railroad, but there are others that head north west and converge on Yellowstone. If you wish, PM me and I will be glad to send you some shots.

Bob.

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Dave -

I have yet to edit the photos I shot at the LOC, but I may try and post a shot or two of the Clason map when I figure out how to do it correctly. The 1908 map shows many wagon roads all through Wyoming, but the "Best auto roads" over-printed in red are not that extensive. Seems to be very selective, actually. Of course, the main route is the southern one, following the UP railroad, but there are others that head north west and converge on Yellowstone. If you wish, PM me and I will be glad to send you some shots.

Bob.

 

Bob,

 

Thanks for the offer! I will send you an e-mail via PM.

 

This is really interesting. It is sort of the "missing link" between the wagon road and the auto road era.

 

Next week I hope to get out to follow a short section of the Oregon Trail (in Oregon) that was converted to an auto road around 1910, and then long bypassed.

 

We will probably also drive (in Idaho) in the still dirt tracks of the first transcontinental auto trip, the first transcontinental auto race (1903), and the first transcontinental round trip by auto. All fun.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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