Keep the Show on the Road! Posted July 31, 2007 Report Share Posted July 31, 2007 Roadhound mentioned he may be in the Mono Lake area and on Yosemite’s Tioga Pass this weekend. There are a couple of old roads that might be worth a visit. To cut to the bottom line first...I suggest taking the Coyote Springs Road up Bridgeport Canyon to Bodie, then returning by the Cottonwood Canyon Road. The reasons follow. The old road between Mono Lake and Bridgeport, what is now US 395, did not go over Conway Summit. It went via Bridgeport Canyon to the east. And the Cottonwood Canyon Road further east is the old stage road between Bodie and Mono Lake and is described in the 1865 “Trip to Bodie’s Bluff” in Harper’s Magazine. The short and sweet is that the old road (1923 and before) between Mono Lake and Bridgeport went via Bridgeport Canyon along what is now called Coyote Springs Road. The name alone demands a visit! After 1923 or 24 it went over Conway Summit. Let’s begin with a couple of maps from my collection. The first is a section from a 1917 Automobile Club of Southern California strip map.. Note that the main road goes northeast from Mono Lake through Bridgeport Canyon. Also note the road continuing northeast to Bodie. This is the Cottonwood Canyon road. 1917 Map The following is the 1923 map from the ACSC. Note that a new road is under construction. This is the road over Conway Summit 1923 Map This next map isn’t dated, but it is circa 1925. The main road now goes over Conway Summit. Circa 1925 Map Keeping that in mind, lets also look at an 1865 article in Harper’s Magazine titled "Trip to Bodie’s Bluff and the Dead Sea of the West”. I happen to have that issue, but if you don’t , go to the terrific Library of Congress American Memory site (memory.loc.gov/ammem) and search for Bodie. One of the citations will be at the wonderful Cornell University collection of old periodicals with the title “Trip to Bodie’s Bluff.” (Both the American Memory and Cornell sites are essential sources for Americans interested in our heritage.) Beginning on the second page of that article is the description of a trip down Cottonwood Canyon to Mono Lake. (Incidentally, as you read the article it may be helpful to know that the “Big Meadows” is the area where Bridgeport, California is now located and Aurora is east of Bridgeport, in Nevada. It might not be a bad guess that the tragedy described occurred along the Aurora Canyon Road, but that is a digression.) The article goes on for several pages describing the Cottonwood Canyon and Mono Lake. So, I hope that Roadhound (or someone) will take the old highway through Bridgeport Canyon on Coyote Springs road, go into Bodie, and then return via the Cottonwood Canyon Road, and report to us. Bodie is obviously worth a trip in any event. The last map, also from the ACSC is undated but after 1923 and probably pre 1930. It shows the road over Conway Summit, the Bridgeport Canyon road, and the Cottonwood Canyon Road. Undated but After 1923 and Probably Before 1930 And, it might be interesting to see if there is a location along the route between Aurora and Bridgeport (Big Meadows) that fits the site of the tragedy described. As an aside, I find it interesting that none of the maps shows Lee Vining, which therefore must not have existed in the teens or 1920’s. If I can help, post a note, and Keep the Show on the Road! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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.