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Three Months By Car In 1929

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I stumbled upon the blog of a woman who is working on recreating a road trip taken in 1929 by her great-grandmother and two friends, starting in Bridgeport, CT, driving west to Washington State, then north into Canada and then south into Mexico, and then home through the South. They drove over 12,000 miles.

 

She has all the postcards her great grandmother sent from their various stops, and this is allowing her to sort of recreate the route. She plans to drive it herself when she can secure funding. I've contacted her via her blog to mention this place -- we will certainly root her on, and because many of us have good historical resources we might be able to help with planning (though it sounds like she has some resources of her own).

 

She wrote her master's thesis on this trip, and plans to expand it into a book based on her eventual trip.

 

From her blog, Three Months by Car, at http://threemonthsby...wordpress.com/

 

 

Dorothy Guyott, Edith Stohl, and Evelyn Stohl started their road trip in Bridgeport, CT. They drove across the country on a northern route, and once they reached Tacoma, they turned north to Vancouver. They turned back down the Pacific coast and headed into Tia Juana. From Mexico, they went back to California and then followed a southern route across the country to Florida then up the Atlantic coast back to Bridgeport. In following the roads traveled by the three young women, or girls as they would have been called in 1929, I am planning to:

  • Analyze the similarities and differences between advice literature from the 1920s and advice literature from today
  • Document how the places visited in 1929 have transformed or been historically preserved
  • Learn about what news-making events were happening in each place as the three visited them
  • See how far $450 will get her along the route (the amount the three took with them in 1929)
  • See how far $6,058 will get her on the trip ($450 in 1929 inflated to today’s price)

-Jim

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Jim,

 

A great web discovery! Looking at the sites Maria lists, the route should be fairly easy to determine, and if she wants copies of a 1929 highway atlas. I probably have one, or one plus or minus a year.

 

Your link to her blog took me to a page that appears to be under construction, but when I went to Facebook and followed one of the links to the blog I found more of the blog.

 

Maria seems interested in American Road, and we can certainly help her. Most of my “stuff” is before 1929, but I probably have Blue Books, and ALA Green Books that should provide some collateral info.

 

Thanks for the tip!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Even though I first learned of this through Jim's mention of it on Facebook, I thought a comment here about how promising this looks would be appropriate. So, here we go. This looks really promising.

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I really hope we can give her material help in at least stitching together the route, helping her figure out some of the inevitable rough spots where alignments have been lost. -Jim

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Jim,

 

I'm confident we can help, provided she needs any assistance. I was tempted to start to trace the route on a 1928 atlas, using her stops list, but I held off because it isn't my project to pursue.

 

I'm going to watch here to see if she posts, and go from there.

 

I'm glad you spotted her blog.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Even though I first learned of this through Jim's mention of it on Facebook, I thought a comment here about how promising this looks would be appropriate. So, here we go. This looks really promising.

 

Yes, indeed.

 

This is quite exciting ... and I'm looking forward to watching this develop.....

 

 

 

 

Cort | 39.m.IL | pigValve + paceMaker + cowValve | 2 MCs + '79 & '89 Caprice Classics
CHD.cars + RoadTrips.hobbies.RadioShows.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort
"Wouldn't that be something?" __ Finger 11 __ '1 Thing'

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Hello everyone!

 

I am so glad to be able to post now, I have been wanting to since this thread started. Thank you so much, Jim, for sharing my blog. The description you provided is wonderful and I invite everyone to visit (or revisit) my blog at threemonthsbycar.wordpress.com. Aside from what I learned while writing my MA Thesis, I am new to the realm of travel history, although I have always enjoyed road trips on today's back roads and am a big history enthusiast. I welcome any advice or insight that you may have either here or on my blog. I also have a Facebook page and Twitter account for this project where I can be reached as well.

 

My upcoming blog posts will feature edited parts of my thesis as well as short profiles of the places where the three visited in 1929. My next post is Sunday; the schedule that I've settled into is Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Monday, Thursday (so there was a post today).

 

I hope you all enjoy my project, and I look forward to interacting with all of you. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by my blog already, commented there, followed my Twitter, and Liked my Facebook page.

 

-Maria

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Maria,

 

I have enjoyed reading your blog, including of course the most recent entry. It prompted me to wonder how Sinclair Lewis had referred to Clair in Free Air (1919). Clair is twenty-three, a “young woman” today. As she drives her father across country, how is she addressed and described?

 

In the very first paragraph he states “She felt like a woman, not a driver.” On the other hand, on page 13 she is said to have managed “her circle of girls...” By page 18 she is called a “young lady” by an older woman. I have never read the book, only scanned it for relevant travel information, but young males appear to be consistently referred to as “young men.”

 

It would be interesting, and perhaps pertinent to your work, to compare how women, young or not, are portrayed as drivers and automobile travelers in say 1909, 1919, and 1929. As you know, there is a good deal of discussion in the road travel oriented magazines over the years on the topic. I have my own “impressions,” but there are not carefully developed.

 

I look forward to your future posts.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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Maria, rest assured that your project is 100% up this group's alley and that we will eagerly await every word, every development. -Jim

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Hi Dave,

 

Thanks for sending me to Free Air, fortunately was able to pick up a copy for free via my Kindle. It's going to the top of my reading list. In just reading the reviews, I also wonder if Claire's being called a young lady and a young women has to do with her "upper class" status (that's what the publisher write ups tell me she is). Also, despite Sinclair Lewis being male, I wonder if the term "girl" came more from a male demographic, as it was an older woman in the book who called her a young lady. There's also a possibility that females of this age were called girls when in groups, but one was a "young woman" when alone. I hesitated about writing how they might self-identify, because they aren't here anymore, and through my (unrelated) studies have read about an author's grandmother being appalled that she was referred to as an early feminist in her granddaughter's writings, because the term feminist meant something completely different to her. It's why I added the caveat of "at least in some circles." It's certainly something to look into, even if it doesn't become a focus in the eventual book.

 

In an upcoming post, I think it will be posted this week (I have the next week and a half written), I do discuss this topic again in respect to female drivers appearing in newspapers.

 

Jim,

 

Thank you for your kind words.

 

 

Best to all,

 

Maria

Three Months By Car

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Maria,

 

I have a question. I have dug out a 1928 atlas (didn't find a 1929) and I can either post sections or send them directly to you.

 

I think it might be fun if you and others looked at a series of maps covering sections of the route and made some informed judgments about which roads were taken. It might even add to your research and support your final determinations. On the other hand it might intrude into your work.

 

I'm thinking though that a healthy dialog, and even differences of opinion, might strengthen your conclusions and probably introduce some information that might not otherwise come to your attention.

 

What do you prefer?

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Hi Dave,

 

I would love to see the map sections no matter how you share them, I'm sure others would like to see them as well. If you go by way of email you can reach me at threemonthsbycar@hotmail.com I definitely want to know what roads were taken as I truly do want to physically retrace as much of the path they drove as possible. I don't think it would intrude into my work at all.

 

I'm also all for a healthy dialogue and differences in opinion, because if everyone agreed (in this case with what I blog) then I would never be directed to other sources that might be really helpful in one way or another. After your pointing out Free Air, I've begun to look into other literary avenues and rediscovered Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth Century America which at the time of my thesis I couldn't really use. There were also some books for younger readers...the name escapes me at the moment, but I think it was something like Motor Girls and I definitely need to look into those too.

 

I sincerely appreciate your, and everyone's, input, advice, help, and suggestions for this project.

 

Maria

 

Three Months By Car Latest Post 1/20/2013

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Maria, et al

Here is my first “guestimate” using a 1928 Rand McNally (Double click to enlarge).

The original US6 is the main through route for their first destinations (Hawley, and then Scranton, PA). They would have picked up US6 as soon as possible after they left Bridgeport, which means they would have taken 122 or 124 to Danbury. In 1927 122 was mostly “tarred macadam” while 124 was “mostly macadam.” It was 27.9 and 27.7 miles respectively to Danbury. (pg 248-249 of 1927 ALA Green Book).


AR%203YW%20Bridgeport%20to%20Port%20Jerv
BRIDGEPORT TO PORT JERVIS

They then followed US6 from Danbury to the Bear Mountain Bridge. The highway in 1927 was “all macadam and concrete. The 1927 ALA (pg 257-258) spends nearly a page describing the route. In 1927 the toll on the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson was 75 cents per car and 10 cents per passenger.

Built in 1924, the beautiful suspension bridge, which is still used, was for a short time the longest suspension bridge in the world (Wikipedia). The young women certainly marveled at its beauty and that of the Palisades Interstate Park.

I will suspend my “research” and post this now, but I will pick it up ASAP. I hope others will add their knowledge as I am not expert at all on this area. (BTW, I don't know if I have a 1929 ALA. The 1927 was on the table, so I used it to get started.)

Dave
Keep the Show on the Road!

AR%203YW%20Port%20Jervis%20to%20Scranton
PORT JERVIS TO SCRANTON

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Love the guestimate, Dave.

 

Maria, a favorite old road-trip diary is Overland by Auto in 1913, about a family that drove from California to Indiana that year. That your forebear and her companions could make their trip just 16 years later on defined roads shows how fast the country's road network grew -- for the 1913 family had to blaze their own trails across portions of the West.

 

A copy of the book is available on eBay at the moment:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/OVERLAND-BY-AUTO-IN-1913-Cross-Country-Automobile-Tour-Trip-in-a-1910-Mitchell-/160746376849?pt=US_Nonfiction_Book&hash=item256d3b0e91

 

-Jim

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Although Port Jervis isn't a listed "destination", going through PJ on US-6 to get to Hawley, PA, sure seems reasonable. If PJ turns out to be an overnight for you, I suggest the Erie Hotel. It's been slightly, but not drastically, remodeled since 1929 Dotty & friends may not have stayed there but they could have. It was built in 1890 and the rooms haven't grown much since then.

 

Dave's guestimate could, of course, be wrong but there's a better chance that it's right. Dave is not infallible and doesn't claim to be but he will give you a damned good guess and a lot of insight. He will be a good "assistant" as you put the route together.

 

Embarrassing confession: I was within a mile of the Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge last year and didn't know it.

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Maria, et al

 

Here is my first “guestimate” using a 1928 Rand McNally (Double click to enlarge).

 

The original US6 is the main through route for their first destinations (Hawley, and then Scranton, PA). They would have picked up US6 as soon as possible after they left Bridgeport, which means they would have taken 122 or 124 to Danbury. In 1927 122 was mostly “tarred macadam” while 124 was “mostly macadam.” It was 27.9 and 27.7 miles respectively to Danbury. (pg 248-249 of 1927 ALA Green Book).

 

 

AR%203YW%20Bridgeport%20to%20Port%20Jerv

BRIDGEPORT TO PORT JERVIS

 

They then followed US6 from Danbury to the Bear Mountain Bridge. The highway in 1927 was “all macadam and concrete. The 1927 ALA (pg 257-258) spends nearly a page describing the route. In 1927 the toll on the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson was 75 cents per car and 10 cents per passenger.

 

Built in 1924, the beautiful suspension bridge, which is still used, was for a short time the longest suspension bridge in the world (Wikipedia). The young women certainly marveled at its beauty and that of the Palisades Interstate Park.

 

I will suspend my “research” and post this now, but I will pick it up ASAP. I hope others will add their knowledge as I am not expert at all on this area. (BTW, I don't know if I have a 1929 ALA. The 1927 was on the table, so I used it to get started.)

 

Dave

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

AR%203YW%20Port%20Jervis%20to%20Scranton

PORT JERVIS TO SCRANTON

 

I have driven US6 from CT/NY border to Wellsboro PA. Many times we would take old NY 17 to Clark Summit, PA, just north of Scranton, through the 1970 and on to visit family there. Still a nice road to take.

 

Thing is NY22 has always been my favorite road. I had an old map that showed, think it was a 1936 AAA map that showed the route starting in lower Manhattan where US 22 terminated. I retraced NY 22 through the Bronx in 1972 when I found old NY state hwy markers. Found a Cadillac Dealer still in business in an old art deco-ish type building.

Building was very lavish looking and beautiful and is still there but the dealership is gone.

 

Though this post is about how your map gave me some more NY22 history. That US7 and NY 22 were one and the same. Up till now as far as I knew was that US7 ran parallel to NY22 but east in CT, MA, VT.

 

It looks as CT3 and CT128 is now signed as US7 from the short segment that the map shows.

Edited by 32vld

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Dave,

 

These are awesome! Thank you so much. I very much agree that it seems likely that they traveled from CT to Hawley, via US6. My guess is that they got there via CT122 as the Stohls lived in Trumbull. Dotty's postcards do mention a couple of times the changes in road as they travel west, but she didn't mention the roads closest to home as her family would have obviously known through their own area travels. That definitely is a gorgeous bridge. I myself wonder if they were using a 1929 map when they traveled, when they got out to Yellowstone, they didn't visit the Grand Tetons, which had been named a National Park earlier in the year and it's one of those things where I feel that if they knew about it, they would have gone. Although, the 1929 maps were likely published before the park was designated as such and thus it wouldn't have been on the map.

 

Jim,

 

Thank you for the heads up on the book. One of my research goals is just to expand my base knowledge of motor-trip history from the early 20th century, and this is just the thing I'm thinking of in that regard.

 

Denny,

 

I'll definitely keep the Erie Hotel in mind. They didn't stay there, camping in Hawley was how they spent the first night, but when I go on the trip I'll definitely be trying to find places to stay in that existed when they traveled.

 

32vld,

 

NY22 is one of my favorite roads too. I spent two years living in Vermont along it's western edge (could literally walk to NY in a few minutes) and traveled that road regularly.

 

Best to all,

Maria

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Maria, et al

 

Here is my first “guestimate” using a 1928 Rand McNally (Double click to enlarge).

 

The original US6 is the main through route for their first destinations (Hawley, and then Scranton, PA). They would have picked up US6 as soon as possible after they left Bridgeport, which means they would have taken 122 or 124 to Danbury. In 1927 122 was mostly “tarred macadam” while 124 was “mostly macadam.” It was 27.9 and 27.7 miles respectively to Danbury. (pg 248-249 of 1927 ALA Green Book).

 

 

AR%203YW%20Bridgeport%20to%20Port%20Jerv

BRIDGEPORT TO PORT JERVIS

 

They then followed US6 from Danbury to the Bear Mountain Bridge. The highway in 1927 was “all macadam and concrete. The 1927 ALA (pg 257-258) spends nearly a page describing the route. In 1927 the toll on the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson was 75 cents per car and 10 cents per passenger.

 

Built in 1924, the beautiful suspension bridge, which is still used, was for a short time the longest suspension bridge in the world (Wikipedia). The young women certainly marveled at its beauty and that of the Palisades Interstate Park.

 

I will suspend my “research” and post this now, but I will pick it up ASAP. I hope others will add their knowledge as I am not expert at all on this area. (BTW, I don't know if I have a 1929 ALA. The 1927 was on the table, so I used it to get started.)

 

Dave

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

AR%203YW%20Port%20Jervis%20to%20Scranton

PORT JERVIS TO SCRANTON

 

 

Keep the show on the road

 

Looking at your 1928 map I see them not going straight north to pick up US6 because they would have to go to far out of their way before the would be heading west on US6.

 

I think that they would of left Bridgeport on US1 south till they reached Westport, CT then head up north through on Wilton Rd, through Wilton CT, then Georgetown, CT, on Danbury Rd what is now US7 north.

 

Then when once past Georgetown, CT west on 102 till Ridgefield. Where they would of made a quick left south on 33, then a quick right on 35 over the NY/CT state line.

 

NY 35 appears to be 329 in CT on the 1928 map and there is no route number assigned to the NY road on the 1928 map thought the road that goes through South Salem, Cross River, Katonah, Yorktown Heights is NY 35 today.

 

Being they were local they should of known how to go this more direct way to the Bear Mtn Bridge.

 

Then take NY35 to meet up with US6 at Peekskill which is about 2 miles south of Bear Mtn Bridge.

Edited by 32vld

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32vid,

 

Your guess is as good as mine....or better! Your post is exactly what I hoped Maria would get.

 

I have already had fun with this section. The Bear Mountain Bridge was a completely new item for me, and one that turns out to be pretty spectacular. That Denny didn't know about it adds icing to the cake! :lol:

 

I also discovered a Civil War monument in the middle of their route in Peekskill (where Highland veers left off Division going north toward the bridge) which is really evident in Google Earth, and is cited in the 1927 ALA Green Book. They are certain to have seen it because they veered left onto Highland.

 

Then Maria said they camped in Hawley. I may check my auto camp references to see if I spot a camp in Hawley. In late 1920's Boy's Life magazines there is an ad for a boy's camp in Hawley, but I doubt it was also an auto camp. And BTW, there is a big stone mill in Hawley which is very visable in Google Earth, and is cited in the 1933 ALA Green Book.

 

(A tiny correction to your post for those looking at the map, it is a 1928 map. It is the ALA Green Book that is 1927.)

 

Thanks again for your post, right on target!!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Thank you to you both. I see how both routes are equally plausible. I'm going to check the routes via Google to check mileage (not completely accurate, I'm aware) as I know the mileage of Day 1 of the road trip thanks to a postcard. I'll let you know what I come up with. :-)

 

Best to all,

Maria

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Thank you to you both. I see how both routes are equally plausible. I'm going to check the routes via Google to check mileage (not completely accurate, I'm aware) as I know the mileage of Day 1 of the road trip thanks to a postcard. I'll let you know what I come up with. :-)

 

Best to all,

Maria

 

Keeping secrets is bad. Working with clues is half the fun on this forum.

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Maria,

 

32vid was kidding about "secrets." :) I'm glad you have the mileage for this section and I especially appreciate you being willing to share your knowledge and information...... and interact with us.

 

Tell me when you have finished with your analysis and I will post another map segment.

 

Thanks again.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Maria,

 

It is great that you have the mileage for this segment, and I hope it will shed light on which route was taken. I think it will be easier to identify the most probable route the further west they go. The roads are fewer and the main traveled routes better identified in period literature.

 

I read your last two blogs (Jan 23 & 25) together. I haven't studied the role of women in the early years of automobiles as you are, but over the years I have read hundreds (probably thousands) of pages of early articles that in one way or another depict the role of women related to automobiles. There isn't much I could add to your excellent summation...save one.

 

My recollection of my random reading is that women were often trivialized or patronized. For example many articles and features focused on fashion...what the “lady wore to drive or travel.” I don't recall an example where they were cited as opinion leaders in discussions of automobile laws or policies.

 

Perhaps the single exception to that is that women were the leaders in establishing certain historical highway designations. The Old National Trails, and the El Camino Real in California come immediately to mind. Even in these instances they often had that standing because they were married to men of standing.

 

Again, as almost always, I am no expert on the subject, but early road travel in this country is definitely an interest of mine. There was a time not long ago when it was very difficult to find source material. You owned it or you drove to where it resided. Today with sources like Google Books, I have a vast library 18 inches away!!

 

I look forward to your next post!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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