Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Log Rolling On The Yellowstone Trail Ca 1920

Recommended Posts

I suspect that many of us who enjoy the two lane roads, and especially their history also enjoy old post card images. I do, and I have hundred, perhaps a thousand. The best ones are usually the real photos referred to as real photo post cards, or just RPPC.


The RPPC below is of the National Parks Highway, Yellowstone Trail, Sunset Highway route east of Snoqualmie Pass, along the shores of Lake Keechelus, a location I now well today. The modern interstate takes the same route, so this roadbed is long gone, but a few of the details are fun to note, in large part because they highlight automobile travel in the “good ole days.”







The photo was taken about 1920, based on the automobiles. Lets say 1922, but perhaps earlier. The road is dirt, maybe gravel, put clearly not paved. It appears well maintained, as should be the case on a major transcontinental route.


Note the dust. Most or many of the cars at this time were still open...soft tops, or rag tops if you wish. They didn't protect their occupants from dust at all. In fact, when I read why drivers chose one route over another in the teens and early twenty’s, it was as often for the dust conditions as it was for other road conditions. As an aside, one reason the Yellowstone Trail, which took a long southern detour in Washington, was often preferred over the National Parks Highway, which was almost a straight shot between the east and west, is because the NPH route was dustier.


Next, look at where the car in the distance is positioned on the roadbed around the curve! You would not wish to meet him coming the other way, and for that matter he would not be in a good position if he had to swerve to the right. Note that the log that supposedly provides some sort of safety barrier has already been displaced. It is a straight, easy, and fast trip right into the lake, which is very deep.




One of the common admonitions that appears in auto club magazines of this period is “Drive to the Right.” I get the impression from reading a lot of them that folks took their half of the road out of the middle. And there were few “white lines.” I would have to look a bit to find out when they came into use, but dirt or gravel roads certainly didn't have them!


Finally, there must have been some “exciting” times on the Yellowstone Trail. Look closely at the several logs on the slope to the lake. Perhaps they were dislodged from the barrier along the roadbed. I count three, and one more that is missing on the curve! Even if the logs down slope were not from the roadbed, look at how the logs are braced.....a couple of stones secure each. No wonder a driver stayed away from that side or the road!


All things considered I prefer to be a student of the old roads than a driver on them!


Keep the Show on the Road!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a great postcard! If you squint your eyes and look very closely, it looks like there are two cars passing on another in the far background, right by the far utility pole (or poles--looks like two together) that can be seen to the right of the foreground pole. They're a little sharper, but far smaller, in the full postcard.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent photos of the old highway. I always knew that the old highway followed the shoreline of the lake and these postcards prove it. Great sleuthing Dave as always. It is always great to see what you have found.


Nice work and keep the show on the road.

Curt C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...