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Discovered! 100 Year Old Pacific Highway (Us99) Section

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A 100 year old original section of the Pacific Highway (later US99) has been identified and is pictured in my photos below. I am inclined to say I “discovered” it, but it had been earlier identified as a segment of the Cowlitz Trail, and it is used as an equestrian trail today. It runs through the Lewis and Clark State Park, south of Chehalis, Washington, but according to lead staffers at state park headquarters in Olympia, it had not been identified with the historic Pacific Highway. So far as I can determine, this is the first public declaration. You saw it here!!

 

ARPacificHighwayLewisClark.jpg

 

My identification took a circuitous route. Mid last week I drove to the Park to take another look at the Pacific Highway in the area between Chehalis and Toledo, Washington. I noted an old road I had spotted on Google Earth a few days before, and when I got home I overlaid the 1853 GLO Survey of Township 12N 1W on Google Earth. The Cowlitz Trail, which is also refereed to as the northern branch of the Oregon Trail, clearly passes through the Park north and south along the old road (now equestrian trail) I observed and photographed.

 

The modern road (old US99, Jackson Highway) follows a route considerably west of the old Trail and has a very noticeable curve. It is pictured in the 1922 State Parks report, so it existed before that date. But the question I wondered about was “Did the original Pacific Highway follow the old road bed /equestrian trail I observed, or the modern more westerly route?

 

The answer was revealed by overlaying the 1913-1914 USGS (Chehalis) Topo map on Google Earth. The USGS map was surveyed in 1913-14 and drafted in 1916, and it clearly labels the Pacific Highway. It became quite obvious that the Pacific Highway followed the old road (equaetrian trail) I had photographed, and not the modern route further west.

 

So sweet and simple, here is a newly identified section of the original Pacific Highway! It isn't at all surprising that the then new (early teens) Pacific Highway used the old Cowlitz Trail, which by the early teens had been a north south thoroughfare for many years, first as an Indian trail, trail for Hudson Bay trappers, then as a pioneer route between the Columbia River and the Puget Sound, and then as an important wagon road. It would have been surprising if it had not.

 

I want to thank the staff at the State Parks office in Olympia, Ryan and Alex, for their interest and assistance. They showed a genuine interest in the information, which added immensely to my motivation. I think we might have added a tiny bit of information to our knowledge of the heritage of the Park and of the state. Since the Pacific Highway was the first and most important north south auto road in western America, it is of more than passing interest that our Washington State Parks are preserving that heritage

 

I have copied an image of the map overlay below. The first map shows the approximate area of the overlay map.

 

ARCowlitzmap1.jpg

 

ARCowlitzmap2.jpg

 

The red arrow identifies the 1913-14 original Pacific Highway, the white arrow points at white lines I placed over sections of the old road visible in Google Earth, the yellow arrow points to the modern Jackson Highway / old US99, and the blue arrow points to the direction and the location where I took the photo.

 

It is all there! The registration of the overlays are a little off, and you can see if they were corrected (slight up and to the right), the match would be almost perfect. I will add more information in subsequent posts.

 

The photo location in the Park can be viewed on Google Earth at 46.523286, -122.812915. The 1913-14 USGS Chehalis topo map is available at the Perry Castaneda Library at the University of Texas:

 

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/washington/txu-pclmaps-topo-wa-chehalis-1914.jpg

 

and is also available as an overlay on Google Earth using Historic Topographical Maps. Go to:

 

http://www.gelib.com/historic-topographic-maps.htm

 

The 1853 GLO Survey for T12N, R1W is on line at:

 

http://www.blm.gov/or/landrecords/survey/ySrvy1.php

 

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!!

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Dave,

 

What an incredibly exciting find!! And what wonderful sleuthing to confirm it.

 

What was the condition of the road segment you found? Was there any original pavement visible? Any physical signs on the ground?

 

-Jim

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Jim,

 

The photo is of the road. The road is now used as an equestrian trail. As you can see, it is pretty smooth, so it might have been graded at some point more recently. It doesn't look to be paved. That is to say, I didn't observe any hard pavement like concrete or asphalt.

 

The parks people told me that they had been discussing the location of the Cowlitz Trail with tribal members, but it appeared to me that they accepted the modern road (curved route) as the Pacific Highway. I suggested otherwise and explained what I had found, and they were genuinely interested and wanted to see the post when I put it up. They had not been aware of the 1913-14 USGS map.

 

By the time the park became a state park (1921-22) the modern alignment with the curve was in place, and it appears to have been paved, based on a photo in the 1922 Parks report. So by the time the park was created, the modern route was the Pacific Highway.

 

I have not been able to pin down when the modern route replaced the route I photographed and identified as the original Pacific Highway. I have looked over the 1916-1921 state road reports and have not found a definitive answer. I will have to reread the reports.

 

I am really intrigued with the northern quarter of the old road in the Park. The equestrian trail turns west about two thirds of the way north (blue arrow on map below) and leaves the route of the Cowlitz Trail and the old Pacific Highway roadbed, which went straight ahead.

 

ARFork.jpg

 

There is a wetland formed by a small creek that crosses the route of the old road north of where the equestrian trail turns westward. You can see it in the Google Earth image below. It is not hard to spot at 46.531370, -122.819092

 

I want to walk to the fork (blue arrow) where the equestrian trail starts the turn west and see what lies north. If I can make it through the undergrowth, I may be able to get to the spot where the old road crossed the wetland. Wouldn't it be a kick if I found original planking?? I have some evidence that the road was planked a few miles south (old photos in road reports) and planking would have been likely across the wetland.

 

You can see what may be a roadbed across the wetland at the coordinates above. At least there are fairly well defined edges to what could be a track. (See photo below) And what are the double white lines crossing the wetland? Are they man made?

 

I'm waiting for a sunny day. (Your thoughts and insights are always appreciated! And I hope your route 66 plans are going well.)

 

ARwetland.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Wonderful stuff. Nice work bringing the various sources together. The identity of the parallel white lines is now an intriguing mystery but it wouldn't have been interesting at all without the other discoveries.

 

This is definitely off topic but the name Jackson Highway caught my attention. There was a Jackson Highway in the east that ran from Chicago to New Orleans. I'm somewhat familiar withe the section in Kentucky now called US-31E. Any stories about Washington's Jackson Highway?

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Thanks, Denny, it is always great to get your comments and feedback!!

 

You asked if there are any stories about the Jackson Highway. Yes, arguably it's existence determined the boundaries of the United States, or at least I can make that assertion with a straight face.

 

Had Americans not settled in the Puget Sound and what is now western Washington State, and their presence not countered the longer presence of the English, particularly those of the Hudson Bay company, the borders of the United States would probably have followed the Columbia River. “Fifty Four Forty or Fight” was a call you may remember from your history books.

 

The Cowlitz Trail was the overland route taken by American settlers reaching into the Puget Sound. Had it not already existed and been well traveled by Native Americans and Hudson Bay employees by the time Americans reached Oregon, the only way they could reach the Puget Sound would have been by sea, or over the Cascades. American settlers would have stayed in Oregon, and I would be speaking Canadian. :huh2: :lol:

Now there is a story!!

 

The Jackson Highway (section of old Cowlitz Trail) is named for an early settler John Jackson, whose cabin still stands about a mile and a half north of the Lewis and Clark State Park. If I haven't told the story of Jackson and the “Jackson Courthouse” on the forum I will....later.

 

So you can say that the road I photographed above determined the fate of a nation! Now that is impressive! Of course, like most history, it is a mixture of truth and BS.

 

My “favorite” story of the Jackson Highway is that it is part of the Oregon Trail. We have Oregon Trail Days celebrations along its route, and businesses along the way use Oregon Trail in their names. But I have never seen the evidence that travelers on the Cowlitz Trail considered it, at the time, a branch of the Oregon Trail.

 

The designation gained favor when Ezra Meeker and the Daughters of the American Revolution decided to popularize the trail (and other trails) in the teens of the last century. I suppose the Oregon Trail had more cachet than the Cowlitz Trail. And did I ever tell you that George Washington once lived in Centralia, near the road. Really! But that is another story.

 

Like Jimmy Durante (or was he before your time) used to say “I got a million of em!”

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I don't see a roadbed in the photo (maybe I'm too tired), but those double white lines look for all the world to me like utility lines. -Jim

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Jim,

 

Believe me, I wouldn't bet any money on my hoped for road bed, but just so I don't leave a plank unturned, the image below has my imagined road bed marked. If there is any truth to my speculation, it may have to wait for summer and dryer conditions to test it.

 

One other point in support of my speculation...the "wetland roadbed" appears to be in line with the known roadbed. The second photo shows the wetland formation (blue arrow) and the red arrow points to the old roadbed.

 

The parallel lines might be downed trees, but if they are power lines they don't emerge from the wetland......though I certainly agree with you as to what they look like.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road.


ARRoadbed.jpg

 

ARRoadbed2.jpg

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A search for "Jackson Courthouse" turned up a couple of mentions but no story. Assuming there is something interesting to tell, please do.

 

That search did reveal that Washington's Jackson Highway had been mentioned before but, although I recall seeing the posts, it apparently didn't strike me at the time that this was also the name of a mid-west auto trail. The auto trail that goes through Kentucky, Tennessee, et. al., was named for President Andy. I figured that wasn't his namesake out west but had no idea who. I'd not heard of John.

 

Regarding George, one of our local radio stations was founded by John Kennedy. I'm guessing that your Washington and my Kennedy have similar connections with the U.S. presidency.

 

I thought "utility lines" when I first saw the picture. After a little more study, I'm starting to think they might be a distant extension of the Nazca lines which would be an even more exciting discovery. However, wires beside a road are perfectly normal so finding a roadbed is more likely. Take your waders.

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Wow, I had to look up Nacza lines. Nice try, Denny!!

 

That those lines are perfectly parallel to Dave's projection of the roadbed is not to be overlooked.

 

-Jim

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Denny,

 

Thanks for the invitation to tell the story of the Jackson Courthouse and John R. Jackson. The “Courthouse” stands very prominently beside old US99, and it stood there when the route was the Pacific Highway, and before that when it was the Cowlitz Trail.

 

Old postcards show the cabin in a state of partial collapse. It has been restored. I am probably alone in preferring a collapsed heap of original old wood and brick over the very nice restoration, but either way, the history is still interesting, and significant. The 1905 condition of the cabin is shown in the photo below.

 

ARcourthouse.jpg

 

John R Jackson settled on the property in 1845, 1846 or 1847 (depending on the source) and the cabin was built by 1848 (some say 1845). At the time the land had just recently become part of the United States under the 1846 Oregon Treaty, and was part of the Oregon Territory.

 

As I have noted several times here, the Cowlitz Trail which ran between Toledo and the Puget Sound was the precursor to the Pacific Highway. Jackson himself in later years ran a freight line between Tumwater (adjacent to Olympia) and Toledo, on our road.

 

The first map below is the 1853 survey. It is exceptional in that at some point someone added color. The Cowlitz Trail is clearly shown, as is Jackson's place. The future Lewis and Clark State Park fills all of section 16, except the lower right area, and the route of the Trail through the park is evident.

 

AR12N1WSmall.jpg

 

(An aside; the surveyors typically were very accurate along section lines, because they were establishing reference points and lines from which property lines could be determined. They were not as accurate with natural features within sections. I suspect the reason is that they didn't drag a chain to determine the exact contours of a creek or trail, but instead estimated it. The point here is that where the trail crosses a section line, it is likely correct, but within a section it is probably an estimate.)

 

Back to the story. The second map shows the Jackson site and also section 16, which is the site of the Lewis and Clark State Park. It is easy to see the route of the Cowlitz Trail, and for the most part, that is the route of the original auto road in this area, the road we know as the Pacific Highway (or US99, or Jackson Highway). The “Courthouse” gets into the story because the first US District Court session above the Columbia River was held in the cabin in 1850.

 

AR12N1WCrop.jpg

 

Jackson was a prominent citizen of his time. His farm provided accommodations for travelers following the Cowlitz Trail. It is believed that the Governor Stevens and his wife and family spent the night at Jackson's in 1853. Here is her description of the first two days of travel on the Cowlitz Trail, taken from the 1914 Early History of Thurston County on Archive.org. I include it all (and added my own paragraph breaks) because it describes the conditions along the Cowlitz Trail, and is believed to describe Jackson's place.

 

“We walked ankle deep in mud to a small log house, where we had a good meal. Here we found a number of rough, dirty-looking men, with pantaloons tucked inside their boots, and so much hair upon their heads and faces that they all looked alike. After tea we were shown a room to sleep in, full of beds, which were for the women.

 

I was so worn out with the novel way of traveling, that I laid down on a narrow strip of bed, not undressed, all my family alongside on the same bed. The Governor sat on a stool near by, and. strange to say, slept sound through the long, dismal night.

 

He had been shown his bed up through a hole on top of the shanty. He said one look was sufficient. Men were strewn thick as possible on the floor in their blankets. The steam generated from their wet clothes, boots and blankets was stifling. One small hole cut through the roof was the only

ventilation.

 

As soon as breakfast was over the next morning, we mounted a wagon without springs and proceeded on our journey. There surely were no worse roads in the world than this. The horses went down deep into the mud every step; the wheels sank to the hub, and often had to be pried out.

 

We forded rivers, the water coming above our ankles in the wagon. Many big, deep holes they would jump over, making the horses run quick when the wagon would jump across, shaking us up fearfully. In one of these holes the horses fell down, and we stuck fast in the mud. We were taken from the wagon by men of our party, plunging up to their knees in mud, and carrying us out by sheer force of

their strength. After seating us upon a fallen log, the horses were, with difficulty, extricated from the mud. After another long day's tiresome travel we stopped at a log house for the night.”

 

The photo below shows the cabin as it appears today. The cabin was restored in the mid 1930's by CCC workers based in the Lewis and Clark State Park.

 

ARJacksonCourthouse.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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FORGET IT! I guess am not the guy to test my own theory! I walked to the turn in the road where I presumed the old road departed the equestrian trail, and looked into the impenetrable forest. I would need a bulldozer or helicopter to get to the wetland!

 

ARForest.jpg

 

Fallen tree trunks easily half my height, brush I could hardly see through, smaller branches to stumble over, and a forest floor that was full of decades of fallen debris fully and completely discouraged this old man. And when I saw fairly fresh cougar scat, I became more aware that I was alone in 640 acres of deep woods, and that there have been many cougar sightings officially reported in the surrounding countryside. Not a big threat, but it does perk up your attention!

 

It was a stark lesson in what those early pioneers faced. If the original Pacific Highway went on northward from the turn and crossed the wetland, a hundred years of disuse had done a good job of restoring the forest and hiding the road.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Jim,

 

On reflection, it is probably for the best. The Park is closed for the season, so there was no one there, but I bet they would not be thrilled with me walking through the undergrowth or into the wetland. I hoped that there would be an evident trail, but there wasn't, and I didn't want to disturb the flora.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Jim,

 

Believe me, I wouldn't bet any money on my hoped for road bed, but just so I don't leave a plank unturned, the image below has my imagined road bed marked. If there is any truth to my speculation, it may have to wait for summer and dryer conditions to test it.

 

One other point in support of my speculation...the "wetland roadbed" appears to be in line with the known roadbed. The second photo shows the wetland formation (blue arrow) and the red arrow points to the old roadbed.

 

The parallel lines might be downed trees, but if they are power lines they don't emerge from the wetland......though I certainly agree with you as to what they look like.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road.

 

ARRoadbed.jpg

 

ARRoadbed2.jpg

 

 

Looking at the bottom photo. If you follow the a line from the red arrow head to the blue arrow head the terrain indicates, or better said as seeing the lay of the land that looks as if it was an old road way.

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32vid,

 

i agree! Even the flora is different. The trees are a little greener in the image. And on the ground, while large, they are not as old as the trees elsewhere in the Park.

 

I don't know how wide the original Cowlitz Trail was. I do know that on open ground trails were often very wide as travelers avoided the mud holes, or in the summer, the dust. In the kind of forest we have here, I don't know how wide the trail was in its final iteration.

 

I do know that the road was planked for much of its length between Chehalis and Toledo. I have a newspaper photo provided by a local museum (which I am supposed to pay $30 for if I "publish" it), and it shows a car on the old plank road. Newspaper articles describe a local mill that was kept busy much of the time producing road planks.

 

It is a certainty that the first Pacific Highway was planked in this area. I bet the concrete was a real blessing.

 

I was just way too naive to think that the roadbed would somehow still be evident on the ground beyond the point where the equestrian trail turns west. Real scientists might dill some cores and discover old wood, but it won't be me. None the less, the section that follows the Cowlitz Trail, and is still cleared is fascinating.

 

Thanks for the comment. That's what makes these efforts rewarding! It "ain't" the fame or fortune, for sure! :)

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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I've been known to walk old alignments with a few feet of snow burying them. For old US 99 and US 6, there is barely a section in Southern California that I haven't walked, bicycled, motorcycled, driven, or even... kayaked. So, keep on looking! You never know what you might find.

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Funny how the internal combustion engine removes your sense of climbing a hill. Local (Chehalis) newspaper articles from 100 years ago mention the "Jackson Hill Wagon Road" and "Jackson Hill" was back then a common landmark said to be 10 or 11 miles southeast of Chehalis. In 1917 1.32 miles of the Pacific Highway was rerouted over Jackson Hill to reduce the grade to 5%. So where the heck is Jackson Hill?

 

The maps I have seen don't mention Jackson Hill, but a newspaper article in 1920's announces the sale of the historic John Jackson property called the "Highlands," on Jackson Hill! What hill? I don't recall a hill!

 

But looking at the 1913 topo map it is clear that you rise up about 200 feet going south on the Pacific Highway before you get to Jackson Courthouse (Highlands) and drop down about 200 feet as you leave the south end of the Lewis and Clark State Park, both in segments of about half a mile. And if you were on the wagon road with horse and buggy, or an early automobile, that rise and drop would have been very noticeable. But I just touched the throttle and it didn't even register that there was a hill.

 

A closer look at Google Earth shows a sizable hill that runs generally east and west from 8:15 to 2:15 and includes the Park and Jackson's property (Highlands), which sits on the top of Jackson Hill. Jackson Prairie sits on top of Jackson Hill. Gosh, maybe that is why Jackson called his place Highlands! Do yah think? But it never registered with me that Jackson Prairie and the Jackson Courthouse was on a hill! Darn those internal combustion engines!

 

Then I measured the length of the modern road segment that bypassed the 1913 Pacific Highway and bingo, it is between 1.3 and 1.4 miles long. So it is very likely that the modern road that bypasses the Pacific Highway / Jackson Hill Wagon Road / Cowlitz Trail segment that is the topic of this thread, was built in 1917.

 

Big deal...Not! But it sort of fills out the picture. The Cowlitz Trail went through the Park. It was the first and main route between the end of the Oregon Trail and the Puget Sound, and had been used by the Native Americans and the Hudson Bay Company. The Hudson Bay Company even had a farm (Cowlitz Farm) between the site of the Park and Toledo.

 

Then the route developed into a wagon road, called at least by some in the area, the Jackson Hill Wagon Road, because it went over the hill where John Jackson had his place. Then the trail blazers for the Pacific Highway chose this route for their Highway, and the 1913/ 1916 USGS topo called it the Pacific Highway, and my 1914 guide book does so as well.

 

Then as part of improvements on the route in 1917, the steep section on the southern side of the hill within what is later the park, is rerouted to the west to a lower grade. It is still the Pacific Highway, and that is where the road is when the Park is created in 1922. The old road eventually becomes an equestrian trail.

 

A legitimate challenge to this theory is that the regrade noted in 1917 is on the north side of the hill, not the south side that is in the Park! And it looks like there was a regrade on the north side too...but the length is about 1.0 miles, not 1.32. So that is my evidence. And in the process I have “discovered” another segment of the old highway cut off by the northern regrade, which now awaits inspection!

 

And there seems to be another story to be told. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) had a site in the Park in the 1930's. And as I wrote this I looked in the stare archives, and there are a number of B&W photos of structures built in the park by the CCC. And bingo, on Google Earth I see some. Gee another trip to the park is needed.

 

Maybe it was the CCC that cleared the equestrian trail. That road did not spring up through those trees by itself. No one had an apparent reason to keep the old road clear of growth. Hummm.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Funny how the internal combustion engine removes your sense of climbing a hill. Local (Chehalis) newspaper articles from 100 years ago mention the "Jackson Hill Wagon Road" and "Jackson Hill" was back then a common landmark said to be 10 or 11 miles southeast of Chehalis. In 1917 1.32 miles of the Pacific Highway was rerouted over Jackson Hill to reduce the grade to 5%. So where the heck is Jackson Hill?

 

The maps I have seen don't mention Jackson Hill, but a newspaper article in 1920's announces the sale of the historic John Jackson property called the "Highlands," on Jackson Hill! What hill? I don't recall a hill!

 

But looking at the 1913 topo map it is clear that you rise up about 200 feet going south on the Pacific Highway before you get to Jackson Courthouse (Highlands) and drop down about 200 feet as you leave the south end of the Lewis and Clark State Park, both in segments of about half a mile. And if you were on the wagon road with horse and buggy, or an early automobile, that rise and drop would have been very noticeable. But I just touched the throttle and it didn't even register that there was a hill.

 

A closer look at Google Earth shows a sizable hill that runs generally east and west from 8:15 to 2:15 and includes the Park and Jackson's property (Highlands), which sits on the top of Jackson Hill. Jackson Prairie sits on top of Jackson Hill. Gosh, maybe that is why Jackson called his place Highlands! Do yah think? But it never registered with me that Jackson Prairie and the Jackson Courthouse was on a hill! Darn those internal combustion engines!

 

Then I measured the length of the modern road segment that bypassed the 1913 Pacific Highway and bingo, it is between 1.3 and 1.4 miles long. So it is very likely that the modern road that bypasses the Pacific Highway / Jackson Hill Wagon Road / Cowlitz Trail segment that is the topic of this thread, was built in 1917.

 

Big deal...Not! But it sort of fills out the picture. The Cowlitz Trail went through the Park. It was the first and main route between the end of the Oregon Trail and the Puget Sound, and had been used by the Native Americans and the Hudson Bay Company. The Hudson Bay Company even had a farm (Cowlitz Farm) between the site of the Park and Toledo.

 

Then the route developed into a wagon road, called at least by some in the area, the Jackson Hill Wagon Road, because it went over the hill where John Jackson had his place. Then the trail blazers for the Pacific Highway chose this route for their Highway, and the 1913/ 1916 USGS topo called it the Pacific Highway, and my 1914 guide book does so as well.

 

Then as part of improvements on the route in 1917, the steep section on the southern side of the hill within what is later the park, is rerouted to the west to a lower grade. It is still the Pacific Highway, and that is where the road is when the Park is created in 1922. The old road eventually becomes an equestrian trail.

 

A legitimate challenge to this theory is that the regrade noted in 1917 is on the north side of the hill, not the south side that is in the Park! And it looks like there was a regrade on the north side too...but the length is about 1.0 miles, not 1.32. So that is my evidence. And in the process I have “discovered” another segment of the old highway cut off by the northern regrade, which now awaits inspection!

 

And there seems to be another story to be told. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) had a site in the Park in the 1930's. And as I wrote this I looked in the stare archives, and there are a number of B&W photos of structures built in the park by the CCC. And bingo, on Google Earth I see some. Gee another trip to the park is needed.

 

Maybe it was the CCC that cleared the equestrian trail. That road did not spring up through those trees by itself. No one had an apparent reason to keep the old road clear of growth. Hummm.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

 

The CCC was teenagers and young men for the most part doing work mostly with hand powered tools.

 

So I would venture that they did not cut any new trails or roads. By the time of the Great Depression the original aligment had no longer been used by cars for a long time.

 

Nature was starting to take over the road. So the CCC just went about making the original road clear of growth making it passable and creating a park access/trail road out of the original road bed.

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