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Highway History

Motor Routes to the California Expositions

(The March 1915 issue of Motor magazine contained an article by A. L. Westgard on "Motor Routes to the California Expositions.")

Close Analysis of Conditions That Will Be Found on the Four Principal Transcontinental Highways. Most Favorable Season for Undertaking the Trip on Each Route and Equipment Needed

by
A. L. Westgard
Vice President and Director of Transcontinental Highways
National Highways Association

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A. L. Westgard. Click on image for larger version
A. L. Westgard
Click on image
for larger version

The word pioneer has a flavor of something belonging to "ye olden days," but when applied to the motor car, it might almost be used regarding matters of yesterday. The men who crossed the United States in a motor car only five short years ago encountered conditions to overcome which required a courage and ingenuity not surpassed by that evidenced by the hunters and explorers of nearly a hundred years ago or by the emigrants of fifty years ago who plunged into the west to open up the country for habitation. In the far west, old trading routes, abandoned since the advent of railroads, had to be followed. While these old trails cunningly meandered along the line of least topographical resistance, they were, for the most part, owing to long years of disuse, in a condition which made them practically impassable. The hardships overcome by the first motor car travelers along these paths truly entitled them to have their names inscribed in enduring letters on the tablets of distinguished achievements some day to be erected by those giant Siamese Triplets: The Motor Car Industry, the Good Roads Movement and to adopt that apt French word, Motor Tourism. Indeed, these three mushroom growths, inseparably dovetailed and interdependent, have kept steps in strides which have amazed the entire world. Yesterday we had the rough trails with unbridged streams and ravines, rocky and steep hills, deep sand or perchance mud and slush, poor or no accommodations for man or car, motor cars of crude design and unknown weakness, and, Presto! today, over night, we have well developed touring routes with fair and fast improving surface condition, bridges and culverts, easy grades, plentiful supplies, and well designed, all around dependable cars. Verily, life is decidedly worth while, after all.

Before taking up a detailed description of each of the five transcontinental routes shown on the accompanying map, it might be well to cover with a few general remarks such matters as are common to all of them.

General Remarks

First of all, let every intending tourist remove from his heart all fear of danger, insurmountable obstacles or serious discomforts. They no longer exist, though it is only fair to state that on every one of the five routes described in this article there still remains just sufficient lack of a semblance to park boulevards to ensure one of a chance to rough it to some extent, but it is my belief that a month's living out of doors, the ever changing scenery, besides acquiring a knowledge of our vast country, obtainable no other way, will add sufficient zest to the trip to forget and forgive any minor discomforts encountered. The three routes which will vie with each other for the favor of motor traffic to the San Francisco and San Diego Expositions are the Old Trails Road, the Midland Trail, and the Lincoln Highway. The route to Seattle and the Interoceanic Highway connected by the Pacific Highway will this year serve mostly as return routes for the early or late tourists.

The Old Trails Road

This route had about two million dollars expended on its improvement during 1914 and a like amount will be spent on its further betterment during 1915. At the present time it takes first place, looked at either from the standpoint of surface condition, scenery, historic interest or hotel accommodations. It was the first transcontinental route to have an organization created for its improvement, and that this organization has been a live one is amply evidenced by its energetic campaign for yearly betterments. While considerable portions of the above-mentioned millions have been expended on the eastern half of the route in the way of building long stretches of perfect macadam roads in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as graveled roads in Ohio and Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, it is really in the far, arid southwest that the improvements are most noticeable. One expects road improvements nowadays in a settled country, but when in traveling through arid desert regions, practically uninhabited, one finds graded roads, even though only built of the native soil, bridges over all streams and ravines, culverts over all ditches and washes, one can not help but ponder over and admire the enterprising spirit shown by the states and counties through which one travels, hence the memory of the trip through New Mexico, Arizona and the Mojave Desert in California will linger long in your mind.

The Old Trails Road follows the old National Pike, built by the Government about 1825 from Washington to St. Louis, though the portion west of Indiana, was merely surveyed and never constructed. From St. Louis to Old Franklin, across the Missouri River from Booneville, Mo., it follows the Boone Lick Trail, as used by that romantic figure in American frontier history, Daniel Boone. From Old Franklin via Kansas City to Santa Fe, New Mexico, it follows the Santa Fe Trail, of bloody memory from the frequent massacres of freighters by marauding Indians. That the wagon freight traffic along the trail west of Kansas City, then Westport, was very heavy (between 1810 and 1872) is evidenced by the many old parallel wagon ruts still to be plainly seen, sometimes in rows two hundred feet wide, in South Eastern Colorado and New Mexico. Along the Santa Fe Trail may be seen at frequent intervals stone monuments erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution. From Santa Fe to the Pacific Coast the route traces the old Padres Trail, followed by the San Franciscan Fathers bent on carrying the gospel to the Pueblo Indians and Navajos of New Mexico and Arizona. No wonder this route is called the Old Trails Road. West of Kansas City the entire distance is well signposted by the Automobile Club of Southern California in conjunction with the Old Trails Association and the counties traversed.

Intending tourists along the route leaving New York will find good macadam through Philadelphia and Baltimore to Washington. Then west through Frederick, Hagerstown, Cumberland and Uniontown to Washington, Pa., the road is mostly new and the route offers surprisingly good going, garnished with some especially fine scenery while crossing the Blue Ridge, Chestnut Ridge, and Laurel Ridge.

The section passed through here is very charming scenically and has, moreover, the added attraction of historic interest. Many venerable mansions are passed and sites of "battle siege and gallant deeds" in the days of the Civil War. Practically all the towns and villages along this part of the route have their traditions of great deeds in times past.

Leaving Washington, Pa., the route leads, mostly on macadam to Wheeling, W. Va., where the tourist crosses the Ohio River into Ohio. Due west via Zanesville to Columbus, the surface is mostly pavement. A fine open hill country this, with charming views, which will delight the visitor, as will the fruitful, well-tilled farms along the way. Fine and mostly level graveled roads point the way via Dayton and Richmond to Indianapolis, the metropolis of motor car factories and the Speedway. Still due west on more gravel road to Terre Haute, crossing the Illinois line, you will encounter some stretches of clay, which according to whether there has been recent rain or not, will be merely rough or quite bad. This condition, relieved by occasional stretches of hard surface pavement near the towns, will prevail until after crossing the Missouri River into St. Louis.

Across the state of Missouri will be found substantial concrete culverts and bridges, built preparatory to macadamizing the entire route. At present, however, there are still several counties where the clayey soil makes bad going when wet, though for the major distance will be found good macadam or well graded and dragged dirt roads, though somewhat hilly. The tourist passes through Columbia, the seat of the State University, and either crosses the Missouri River on a steam ferry from Old Franklin to Booneville and thence via Arrow Rock, with its quaint museum of frontier days, to Marshall, or crosses the river on another steam ferry at Glasgow, and at Marshall joins the other optional route. From Marshall via Independence to Kansas City is a good road. The route so far, especially in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, is marked with red, white and blue bands on telephone poles along the road.

Between Kansas City, Mo., and Lyons, Kansas, there are again two optional routes. Both coincide to Edgerton, where they separate, one following a good graded, well-marked dirt road via Ottawa, Newton, Emporia and Hutchinson, while the other goes via Council Grove, Herrington and McPherson. While the first follows mostly valley flats, its superior Harvey House system of hotels probably balances the claim of following gravel ridges made by the latter. West of Lyons, the graded roads are all natural dirt and follow the valley of the Arkansas River and the Santa Fe Railroad via Great Bend, Dodge City, Garden City, Syracuse and Las Animas to La Junta, Colorado.

Any one having the time to spare may here make a side trip to Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver and enjoy some of the fine resorts and scenery along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, joining the Old Trails Road again by going from Pueblo via Walsenburg to Trinidad.

From La Junta the regular route leads southwest to Trinidad through a sparsely settled country over a road which recent improvement should make at least comfortable. It may be stated here that there is no paved road on the route west of Kansas City before reaching within a day's ride of the Pacific Coast, except short stretches near the larger towns, the improvements being confined to grading the natural soil and building bridges and culverts.

From Trinidad, the route follows a canyon past several coal mining camps and shortly ascends the convict-built scenic road up over Raton Pass, from the summit of which may be had a splendid view of the Rocky Mountains to the west, the peaks of the Dos Hermanos towering ever snowclad, towards the sky, and to the northeast, Fisher's Peak, a curious, flat-topped peak ten thousand feet high. From the summit one drops rapidly across the New Mexico state line over a very winding road into Raton, N.M. Should the tourist be fortunate enough to see a sunset while descending the mountain, he will always remembers its magnificence.

The traveler has now entered the state frequently called the "land of manana," also called the "land of poco tiempo," but, make no mistake, this land has awakened, it is no longer a land of tomorrow or pretty soon, but, on the other hand, its newly-acquired statehood has imbued it with a remarkable enterprise and energy in road betterments and other internal improvements. It is marching hand in hand with its sister state, Arizona, forging toward the front rank of the column of states, showing the older members of the family how to be "up and doing." . . . [The] natural obstacles in the way of adobe soil, lava rocks and sandy stretches may be considered greater tasks to overcome than are to be found in most states.

From Raton the road follows the general course of the Santa Fe Railroad via Springer, Wagonmound and Watrous to East Las Vegas. Wagonmound, named after the shape of an adjacent hill which from a distance resembles a covered army wagon, will be found the first really Mexican town, while a visit to old Las Vegas, across the Galinas River from East Las Vegas, will uncover another. The language from now on to Albuquerque is Spanish. Leaving East Las Vegas, a new road takes one through Romero Pass, cutting across cedar grown hills and passing through the Mexican village of Tecolote, where you ford the shallow-gravel-bottomed river of the same name and soon drop into Bernal, nestling at the foot of precipitous Starvation Peak. This peak is said to have earned its name because long ago the inhabitants of the village were driven by a band of Apache Indians up its only possible path to its summit and then starved to death by a siege.

The road now follows the railroad closely through cedar grown country. Three and a half miles west of Bernal it crosses the railroad, and at a fork just beyond one must be sure to take the right fork, no doubt properly signed at this time. Soon again one crosses the railroad, which makes a big bend south to San Miguel, but the route leads directly to San Jose, another all Mexican town where will be found the store sign reading "Tienda," apprising you of the fact that inside you may purchase abarotes. Crossing the sunbaked, verdure bare plaza with the crosscapped church in the center, the traveler dips into and out of a deep, dry ravine and again encounters the railroad, following it at the base of the Glorieta Mountain. Some four miles west of Rowe, just after cresting a short hill, by looking over to the left, one will see the ruins of the old Pecos Mission, said to date from about the year 1520. At the town of Pecos, a couple of miles further, the motorist turns left via old Pidgeon Ranch, now Glorieta post office, and an old-time tavern, to Glorieta Station, where he crosses the railroad. Just beyond Glorieta one enters Apache Canyon, where in 1845 a battle was fought between U.S. troops and a band of Texans. Through the canyon a winding but safe road leads to Canoncito, merely a church and a few Mexican adobe shacks, and across the hills to that most interesting of all American cities, Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. Here one should take the seven-mile drive over the "Scenic Road" towards the Sangre de Cristo Mountain, visit the plaza with its monument marking the end of the Santa Fe Trail, the old Spanish Governor's Palace, the old Exchange Hotel, where travelers over the trail put up years ago, the "oldest house in the United States," built about 1500, the San Miguel Mission, the Cathedral, Candelaria's Curio Shop, with the old wooden-wheeled cart on the roof, and thus imbibe some of the local atmosphere, still redolent with dreams of padres, Spanish caballeros and conquistadors and our own intrepid soldiers, who, with the famous Kit Carson, made history in that very plaza.

Regretfully leaving Santa Fe, the tourist goes south over a good road. Nineteen miles out one almost jerks his car to a stop, and, if I am a judge of human nature, spends a half-hour in admiring contemplation from the rim of La Bajada Hill. In the far distance across the desert towers Sandia Mountain, while to the west one looks across the Valley of the Rio Grande. It is truly a marvelous view. After taking several photographs the traveler leaves the rim of the precipitous lava hill and gingerly proceeds down a very winding road, where three or four turns are so sharp that with a long wheelbase he will be compelled to back up to make it. Though the road is good, one had better go slow and use extreme caution, with the hand on the brake, because a couple of the sharpest turns, where he may probably have to back up, simply lead into nothing more substantial than atmosphere, and mighty thin atmosphere at that, should the car refuse to stop at the exact spot on an inch ruler where it is necessary to manipulate for the turn. Now the tourist is down safely and proceeds across the desert on a remarkably good road, crossing the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad at Domingo, a station named after an Indian Pueblo, some two miles distant. Soon the road passes through a forty-foot-deep cut in a gravel hill which brings home to one with strong emphasis the amount of work accomplished on this [desert] road.

Getting closer to the Rio Grande at the village of Algodones, the road passes through irrigated country via Bernalillo to Albuquerque. Here the traveler should visit the old Mexican town and the State University, the unique buildings of which pattern after the architecture of the Indian Pueblos.

Though assured by the State Engineer that the new road from Albuquerque to Gallup will be open for traffic this spring, I think it might be well, in case of possible delay of the opening of that route, to state here that a fair road leads from Albuquerque to Socorro, crossing a new bridge over the Rio Grande near the latter town, and thence on good-to-fair road via Magdalena across the Augustine Plains and the Datil Mountains to Spingerville, Arizona, thence via St. Johns to Holbrook, where it joins the regular Old Trails Route as described in the next paragraph.

Assuming that the new road west of Albuquerque will be open, the route now runs along the river to the Indian pueblo of Isleta. Here it crosses a bridge across the Rio Grande, and later a new bridge across the quicksands of Rio Puerco. Now the route plunges into the real desert, following along the base of some wonderfully picturesque precipitous red cliffs and across the San Jose River to Laguna Pueblo, a well-preserved and interesting specimen of the Indian Community houses. A twenty-mile side trip south to the ancient Acoma Pueblo and the enchanted Mesa will prove very interesting. West of Laguna the route follows south of towering Mt. Taylor, the Indian sacred mountain, and along high red cliffs or forbidding black lava beds to Grants, crossing the Continental Divide just before reaching this railroad station. Later you pass just north of Fort Wingate, a U.S. army post, and reach Gallup. A thirty-mile side trip to the south will enable the traveler to view the wonderful Zuni Pueblo and Inscription Rock, on the face of which appear still legible inscriptions made by the swordpoints of the Coronados Conquistadores in the early part of the sixteenth century.

Owing to the difficult Manuelito wash, along the railroad west of Gallup, the route now bends northwest, following a good road past the "Haystack" monoliths and the Megaphone Rock to St. Michaels, a short distance across the Arizona line. Here one is on the Navajo Indian Reservation and finds an Indian school, a San Francisco Monastery, in charge of Father Weber and three monks, and Day's Indian trading post. A side trip to the north via Old Fort Defiance to Canyon du Chelly will unfold to the admiring eye some wonderful views. Another side trip to the west takes one to Ganado, Volpai and Oraibi, in the Painted Desert, where the Navajos hold their famed snake dances. Proceeding on the way from St. Michaels, the motorist will reach Pinto, a railroad pumping station on another Puerco River. Hence one has the choice of following the north bank via Adamana to Holbrook or cross the river on the new bridge, if finished, otherwise by fording, which is usually safe in mid-summer, and keeping south through the very heart of the Petrified Forest to Holbrook. Either of these options offers some pretty tough going, but a few photographs of the giant petrified logs in the "forest" will make one feel amply repaid for his trouble. There is a good road in the valley of the Little Colorado River from Holbrook to Winslow, at one point crossing on an iron bridge a very deep gash in the earth. The visitor will always remember this Dante Inferno with the sheer granite walls and the black waters of the bottom of the chasm.

From Holbrook a new graded road leads via Meteor Crater, a depression some 700 feet deep, a few hundred feet to the south of road, the safe crossing of Canyon Diable and over a magnificent concrete bridge spanning Canyon Padre to Flagstaff, nestling at the foot of "San Francisco Peaks." Everybody wants to take the 83-mile side trip from Flagstaff north over a graded road through pinion forests and past numerous extinct volcanoes to that most awe-inspiring scenic gem, the Grand Canyon; also the 12-mile side trip south to the prehistoric cave dwellings. Once more on the way, the route follows the railroad pretty closely on good-to-fair roads, passing through Williams, Ash Fork, Seligman and Kingman to the station of Topock on the Colorado River. Since leaving Flagstaff, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, the road will have dropped almost a mile when it reaches the river. At Topock one pays the railroad three dollars and a half toll to cross the planked ties of its bridge and then follows a fine road sixteen miles to Needles, California.

The traveler has now reached the promised land of the Golden West. A new road, following the railroad more or less closely, leads from Needles 166 miles along the length of the Mojave Desert to Barstow, where it turns south, and soon the motorist descends a splendid highway through Cajon Pass to San Bernardino. The visitor is now out of the desert country and surrounded by green, luxurious orchards of orange and lemon trees. And let me say right here that after the stark glare of the desert the refreshing dark green of the orange trees feels mighty grateful to your aching eyes. From San Bernardino one may either follow the fine highways, 65 miles via Pomona and Pasadena direct, to Los Angeles and then drop down along the coast 131 miles to San Diego or go direct via Riverside to the San Diego Exposition first and then up the coast to Los Angeles. The roads are fine either way.

The distance from New York to Los Angeles along this route is 3,178 miles. Hotel accommodations, located at convenient intervals, are good throughout. West of Kansas City the tourist will find Harvey System hotels at Hutchinson, Dodge City, Syracuse, La Junta, Trinidad, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Gallup, Holbrook, Winslow, Grand Canyon, Williams, Ash Fork, Seligman, Kingman, Needles and Barstow, while other good hotels are at Ottawa, Newton, Emporia, Council Grove, McPherson, Raton and Santa Fe, but inferior accommodations at Flagstaff. Garages, gasoline and oil are available all along the route. The longest day's runs between hotels are from Albuquerque to Gallup and from Needles to Barstow. West of Trinidad carry your lunches with you each day.

The best months to travel this route are June, July, August, September and October. Don't leave the East later than October tenth, or one is liable to find snow on Raton Pass or around Flagstaff.

El Camino Real

From San Diego to San Francisco the roadway is uniformly good. This route is called El Camino Real and is part of the Pacific Highway. It passes numerous of the old San Franciscan Missions, either immediately on the route or close by. North of Los Angeles it crosses several beautiful mountain passes in the Coast Range and affords some splendid views. It passes through Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Louis Obispo, Paso Robles, San Miguel, Soledad, Salinas and San Jose, with a side trip to Monterey. The distance is 612 miles.

The Midland Trail

From New York this route leads via Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Bedford and Pittsburgh, to Washington, Pa., from which point it coincides with the Old Trails Road west as far as Kansas City, 1,287 miles from New York. It crosses Kansas on graded dirt road, marked by yellow bands on the telephone poles, via Topeka, Junction City, Ellis, Oakley and Burlington to Limon, Colorado. From this point to Wolcott there are two options, each jealously bidding for the tourist traffic. One of these leads to Denver, and climbs the majestic Rocky Mountains via a magnificent and wonderfully scenic road up Lookout Mountain, then passing through Idaho Spring, it crosses the Continental Divide at top of Berthoud Pass at an elevation of 11,000 feet. Fair roads take the tourist through Fraser, Sulphur, Hot Springs and Kremmlin, then through part of the Gore Canyon and along Grand River to State Bridge and up over a summit down to Wolcott on Eagle River. This is a scenic route, but presents some stiff climbing. The other optional route goes from Limon to Colorado Springs, then enters the Rockies through Ute Pass and passes through Buena Vista to Leadville. Just beyond one crosses the Continental Divide on the summit of Tennessee Pass at an elevation of 10,000 feet, then dropping down enters the valley of Eagle River at foot of Battle Mountain and follows it to Wolcott. This route also presents plenty of stiff grades.

Now one follows a fine road along the Eagle River through a wonderfully picturesque canyon, with vivid, red-hued, steep walls, and increases in wild grandeur until one reaches Glenwood Springs, justly famous for its hot sulphur springs. The tourist keeps on down the Grand River Canyon good convict-built road to Rifle, famous as a cattle-shipping point. Here one gets his first view of the Book Cliffs, so-called from the alternate strata of varying grey, blue and brown colors which clearly marks the sides of the high cliffs. The traveler is destined to follow these mountains for 160 miles to Price, Utah, keeping them ever on his right. From Rifle the road still follows the river to Debeque, and then going south over a considerable summit drops down into Paradox Valley, following the Paradox River, twisting and turning in bewildering fashion between high, sheer rockwalls, to its junction with the Grand River. Once again one follows this river until reaching Paradise, located at the edge of a wide, irrigated plain. Now the route traverses a splendid fruit country, with orchards in all directions, till it gets to Grand Junction, located at the junction of the Grand and Gunnison Rivers.

Grand Junction is the headquarters of the Midland Trail Association. I could write a chapter on the really wonderful results in the way of betterment of the route in Colorado and Utah brought about by this association. Suffice it to say, that I take my hat off to Grand Junction, the livest, pushiest town in the live west, yes, and to all the brawny, nervy, good fellows of that city who spent twelve days with me three years ago covering the 300 miles to Salt Lake City. I think that the whole population would have gone, but for the fact that we only had nine cars, which accommodated only thirty-six, so thirty-six was the limit. Some twenty miles west of Grand Junction the motorist will get his first taste of desert travel on this route. The going is fair-to-good via Cisco, Thompson and Green River to Price, "the littlest big town in the west," as the citizens like to call it. Beyond one passes over a new road through Price Canyon, a highway largely built by the citizens of Price, business men, clergymen, clerks and saloonkeepers quitting their business and closing up the town for several days to accomplish the task. Some enterprise, I should say. The tourist now passes over Soldier Summit and along the Spanish Fork River through mountainous country, but on good roads, to Provo, whence a forty-mile spin takes him into the city of the Latter Day Saints, the Mormon capital. Many interesting features, besides the great Mormon temple, will keep a tourist busy in Salt Lake City for a day or two. The wide, paved streets of the city will leave a lasting impression on the memory.

Leaving Salt Lake City, one will encounter much desert and some rather hard going to Ely, Nevada. The distance, 300 miles, is too great for one day, and, as there is no hotel accommodation between, the best the traveler can do is bunk at a ranch house displaying a sign carrying the legend "Hotel" at Kearney's Ranch. The first town out of Salt Lake City is Garfield, where is located the great smelters of the Utah Copper Co. Now the route follows the shore of Salt Lake and passes through Grantsville, rounding a point of mountain beyond and runs south in Skull Valley and Dugway Valley, a dry desert extension of the great lake, and across the Fish Springs flat, which are very bad when wet. At the Fish Springs Ranch motorists are charged fifty cents a gallon for gasoline, should they need any, and it is probable, for they have gone 147 miles since leaving Salt Lake City. Again the traveler rounds the point of a mountain and crosses another bad flat at the very south end of Great Salt Lake Desert, and gets to Kearney's Ranch, 168 miles out. Next morning one climbs a pass through Deep Creek Mountains and crosses the Nevada state line just before reaching the Eight Mile Ranch, an old Overland stage station. It might interest the tourist to know that he is now on the old trail followed by the Pony Express riders previous to the advent of railroads into the far western states. Entering Antelope Valley one will find a fork, the right leading via Kinsley Pass and the left via Schellbourne Pass into Steptoe Valley. There is little choice in the two, both are very rough. South along the east side of Steptoe Valley the going is good all the way via McGill, where are located large copper smelters, to Ely, located in the center of one of the greatest copper regions in the land. From Ely the road across Nevada on this route is good.

Leaving Ely via Murray Canyon, the traveler passes Currant Creek and crosses Railroad Valley, presumably taking its name from the fact that there is no railroad there. Arriving at Hot Creek Ranch, the tourist should call and pay his respects to Mrs. Williams, the ever cheerful good Samaritan of many a toothsome morsel dispensed with true western hospitality to tourists. At Tonopah, a live town, the tourist will find himself in the greatest silver mining camp, and at Goldfield, 25 miles further, and 211 miles from Ely, he will find the richest gold mine in the country. Though the distance may seem long, it is no trouble to run from Ely to Goldfield in a day. Leaving Goldfield, the route passes through the small mining camp of Lida, and just before entering the valley near Oasis crosses the California state line. A very good road across Gilbert summit and past Gilbert ranch, then across the level floor of a round basin, finally brings the traveler to the summit of Westgard Pass, through the White Mountains. I am justly proud of the compliment paid me by Inyo County and the State of California by giving my name to this pass. A tablet with complimentary inscription is erected at the summit. In trying to describe this most impressive gateway into California I should fail to do the beauty of the scenery full justice, so will quote literally from some literature sent out by the California-Nevada link of the Midland Trail Association: "Westerly from Westgard Pass is a view equaled in few parts of America. In the middle distance, a dozen miles away and nearly a mile below, lies the fertile Owens Valley, extending at right angles north and south over a hundred miles, and on the farther side, distant a score of miles, tower the snow-clad Sierras, with serrated crests and symmetric domes and peaks outlined against the sky at an approximate height of two and one-half miles vertical above the level of the ocean, and extending north and south far as the eye can see. The vision is rich reward for a journey of a thousand leagues."

Emerging from the pass, the route crosses Owens River Valley to Big Pine, located at the very foot of the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains. From this point one branch leads to San Francisco and one to Los Angeles. If bound for San Francisco run north up the irrigated valley 15 miles to Bishop to make a night stop. Here one will find the hospitable officers of the Inyo County Good Roads Club, of which Mr. W. G. Scott deserves special mention for his unceasing work towards the improvement of the Midland Trail. Beyond Bridgeport at the edge of Mono Lake, you take the recently opened road through Tioga Pass into the wonderful, far-famed Yosemite National Park and emerge in the San Joaquin Valley. Going up this valley to Stockton, you turn west and follow a fine road through Livermore to Oakland and San Francisco.

If bound for Los Angeles you turn south at Big Pine, and at Lone Pine will find Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the United States towering above you. Don't pass by the Eaton Chicken Farm without a stop; it is well worth while, for it is the largest "eggery" in the world. Continuing down the valley in the shadows of the Sierras, the route passes through Independence and past Owens Lake. Then it follows the new Los Angeles viaduct and arrives at Mojave, in the center of the Mojave Desert. Leaving Mojave, the road passes through a veritable forest of Joshua trees, a species of desert cactus, indigenous to this section. The route goes via Panhandle and Mint Canyon to Saugus, good going all the way. Here one strikes macadam road which leads into Los Angeles through the Newhal Grade tunnel and San Fernando.

The distance from New York to Los Angeles via this route is 3,568 miles. The hotel accommodations west of Kansas City are good at Junction City, Limon, Denver, Colorado Springs, Buena Vista, Leadville, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Price, Salt Lake City, Ely, Tonopah, Goldfield and Mojave, fair at other places except at some western Kansas towns, where they are decidedly poor. Carry lunches every day west of Topeka, Kansas. Garages, gasoline and oil are available everywhere. The crossing of the Rocky Mountains is closed by snow from about October 20 to May 15th. The crossing of the Sierras is closed from November 10th to May 15th. The best months to cover this route are June, July, August and September.

The Lincoln Highway

This route for the major part of the distance follows the 0ld Overland Trail and was selected and named by an organization which has for its object the permanent improvement of the route by funds obtained from private subscription and membership fees. It is well marked in most sections by red, white and blue bands on telegraph poles, fenceposts or bridge railings, the letter "L" being painted in the middle of the white band.

The route leaving New York leads via Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Canton, Lima, Fort Wayne, and South Bend to Chicago, but I believe that many tourists will follow the route from New York or Boston via Albany, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland and South Bend to Chicago. From New York or Boston there is macadam roads practically all the way to the west line of New York State, good gravel roads near Erie, and mostly brick pavement in Ohio reaching 30 miles west of Cleveland. A short stretch near Willoughby in northeastern Ohio is still quite bad. Gravel roads or stone pikes prevail in the rest of Ohio and all of Indiana. Looked at as a whole, the 1,036 miles from New York to Chicago may be said to be very good. Through Illinois west of Chicago is mostly macadam via Dixon and Sterling to the Mississippi River, which is crossed on a bridge to Clinton, Iowa.

A good graded road, graveled on stretches, leads across Iowa via Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Ames and Denison to Council Bluffs. Here the route crosses the Missouri River into Omaha, Nebraska. Some macadam is encountered just west of Omaha to Fremont. From this point the tourist follows the valley of the Platte River, on level graded dirt road through Columbia, Kearney and Gottenburg to North Platte, located at the junction of North and South Platte Rivers. West of here is encountered rougher going, relieved by some graded stretches and following the valley of the South Platte River to Big Spring. A connecting route leaves here for Denver via Julesburg, Sterling, Fort Morgan and Greeley. Proceeding west from Big Spring, the tourist leaves the river and passes through Chappell and Kimball on fair gravelly road, crossing the Wyoming state line just before reaching Pine Bluff. At Cheyenne, another connecting road, and a very good one, leads south to Greeley and Denver. West of Cheyenne, once crosses the summit of Sherman Hill at an elevation of 8,300 feet. Here is located the Ames Monument, a granite pyramid, built to commemorate the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, which originally wounds its way across the summit, but has later been relocated around the base of the hill. The pinkish gravel, really a disintegrated granite, of this region makes a natural good road of the finest quality.

Between Laramie and Rawlins, there are two rival routes, one following the railroad along the Laramie Plains via Medicine Bow and on to Rawlins, using some abandoned railroad grades to good advantage; the other, some twenty miles shorter and adopted by the organization, leads via Elk Mountain across country to Rawlins. The Medicine Bow option is favored by the state authorities because, it is said, it serves a greater local population.

West of Rawlins, the route is good, bad or indifferent, following the railroad through a wholly unsettled country except for towns and stations on the railroad, past Creston Station to Wamsutter. The Continental Divide is crossed at Creston, though it is difficult to realize that the slightly undulating plain at this point, with the mountains in sight far to the south, is really the division of the east and west watershed. Near Tipton Station, the route runs across rolling country to Point of Rocks, avoiding the loop made by the railroad to the south, and thus escaping the worst of the very rough Bitter Creek country in the Red Desert. From Point of Rocks to Rock Springs, however, one gets a taste of it. Good gravel dirt road from Rock Springs to Green River is followed by more rough going to Granger. Now across the Black Fork of the Green River, across some bad clay flats, past some wonderful castellated cliffs and through the Mormon town of Lyman to Bridger, formerly old Fort Bridger. Some good dirt and graded road takes one to Evanston. Near Wyute Station the route crosses the Utah state line, later crossing the Wasatch Summit, and at Castle Rock enters Weber Canyon. The road, which is fair, passes between precipitous cliffs, which tower above one like the prow of a giant transatlantic liner. On the edges of the cliffs, at the north side of the canyon, may be seen the breastworks thrown up by the Mormons when they prepared to resist the United States Army in the early days. Near Echo Station, the canyon splits into two forks, the right leading direct to Ogden and the left via Coalville and Parley's Canyon to Salt Lake City.

A serious discussion of the relative merits of routes between Salt Lake City and Reno, Nevada, has disturbed the horizon for some time. The route via Ogden and around the north end of the lake has been much improved in the state of Utah, and, while in view of these improvements and some in Nevada, coupled with the fact that this route follows the railroad all the way across Nevada, and never is over ten miles from a habitation, leads me to recommend that route to a man traveling with his wife and children, still I do not consider the regular Lincoln Highway route between these points dangerous, nor even hazardous, and especially not for tourists prepared for the eventuality of having to rough it in case of bad weather or a breakdown.

Following, then, the organized route, it coincides exactly with the Midland Trail for the 300 miles to Ely, Nevada, and reference is made to a description of that trail for the details. West of Ely one follows Robinson Canyon seven miles to Copper Flat, where an inspection should be made of the very interesting steam-shovel method of mining low-grade ores. It is now all desert country ahead, and it is up and down, over summits and across valleys, with water scarce between towns. Thus the traveler crosses Jack's Valley, White Mountains, Newark Valley, Pancake Range and Diamond Mountain to Eureka, a somewhat dormant mining town. Then across Desert Valley, Alkali Flat and several smaller summits to Austin in the Toiyaba Mountains. This town is a "discontinued" mining camp, 157 miles from Ely. Now across another valley, the Mt. Airy Range, New Pass to Alpine, a Shoshone Indian Ranch and to Eastgate, the name of a rather substantial-looking ranch 60 miles from Austin. The route continues through Middlegate and Westgate, gaps in the desert hills, and across Fairview Valley to "Frenchman's," a sort of desert tavern for the rest of the freighters and where water may be bought for their horses.

Now across another summit to Sand Spring, and then across a twelve-mile borax flat. This flat is very dusty and cut up into ruts when dry and practically impassable when wet. At Fallon in the Carson Sink County, one strikes the railroad and follows it across a government irrigation project to Wadsworth. Now the tourist is past most of the bad going, as the road continuing along the Truckee River between the Virginia and Washoe Mountains is improving as you near Reno, 185 miles from Austin.

After inspecting the parade of the candidates for quick divorce, the traveler proceeds south via Washoe to Carson, the capital of the state, and then up King's Canyon grade on a good, but steep and winding road to Glenbrook, on the east side of beautiful Lake Tahoe, the most picturesque spot on the Lincoln Highway. Following the shore of the lake, the road rounds Cave Rock, passes Edgewood, where it crosses the California state line, and reaches Meyers. A picturesque state road connects from here, around Emerald Bay to Tahoe Tavern, on the east side of the lake. Just beyond Meyers the tourist starts to mount the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and it is certainly some stiff climb for the two miles to the summit, 7,500 feet above sea level. Ever gradually down the road follows the picturesque American River to Placerville. It is a fair gravel road all the way. Next one passes Folsom, whence a macadam road takes him direct into Sacramento, the capital city, 166 miles from Reno. All fine macadam roads lead via Stockton to Livermore and Oakland, where one takes the ferry across the bay to San Francisco, 128 miles from Sacramento.

The distance from New York to San Francisco via this route is 3,375 miles. Hotel accommodations west of Chicago are good at Clinton, Cedar Rapids, Denison, Omaha, Kearney, Cheyenne, Laramie, Medicine Bow, Elk Mountains, Rawlins, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Ely, Reno and Sacramento, fair-to-poor most other places, and quite bad in most of Western Nebraska and Wyoming towns. Garages, gasoline and oil are available everywhere. Owing to the presence of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains from about November 10th to May 15th, the best months to cover this route in are June, July, August and September.

The Interoceanic Highway

As the route connecting Atlanta, Ga., with Houston, Texas, via Montgomery and Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, La, forming part of the Southern Highway, is yet in a somewhat undeveloped state, one may consider that the good route from New York to Atlanta is also not to be considered as a link in a transcontinental route at the present time. The same may be said about the main line of the Southern Highway, from Asheville, N.C., through Tennessee and Arkansas, to Dallas, Texas, whence it leads via Fort Worth and Roswell, N.M., to El Paso. However, tourists who start late in the year and who wish to escape the probable mud or snow on the more northern routes have the opportunity to ship their cars to Galveston, Texas, by steamer and traverse the shortest ocean-to-ocean route in the United States. The ocean freight on a car is about sixty-five dollars.

From Galveston to Houston is fifty miles of fine shell road, good in all kinds of weather. There is a possibility of floods along the Texas coast beyond Houston, in the valleys of the Brazos, Colorado and Guadelupe Rivers which may necessitate the shipping of the car to San Antonio, but should this not be the case, the route leads over a very good dry-weather, graded dirt road to San Antonio via Wharton, Victoria and Cuero. San Antonio, with its mixture of Mexicans and winter tourists, is a most interesting town. No visitor should fail to visit the various Missions in the suburbs. Continuing, the road goes via Uvalde to Del Rio on the Rio Grande, where looking across the river, the traveler sees the foreign soil of war-worn Mexico. A fair but wholly unimproved trail leads north to Ozono and thence via the bridge across the Pecos River to Fort Stockton. Here one strikes the railroad and follows it via Alpine, Marfa, Valentine and Van Horn to Sierra Blanca. A new macadam road, expected to be finished this summer, connects from here to El Paso. Across the Rio Grande River is Ciudad Juarez, the battle-scarred headquarters of Villa. Should everything be quiet and serene over there at the time of one's visit, it might be of interest to take a trip "abroad" and inspect the quaint old town, with its bullet-pitted adobe walls.

Leaving El Paso, a macadam stretch leads to Canutillo, where one crosses a bridge over the Rio Grande into New Mexico, and having climbed the hill beyond, follows the Southern Pacific Railroad via Deming to Lordsburg. Here the road leaves the railroad, swinging to southwest via Rodeo to Douglas, Ariz. Again the tourist touches the Mexican border, for Agua Prieta, Mexico, is only one mile from the center of Douglas. Now one passes by the huge smelters and follows a paved road to Bisbee, a thriving copper mining town located in a narrow gulch. A new and very good road leads from here via Tombstone to Tucson, where visit the Mission, and Florence, traversing the Gila Desert with its many varieties of cacti. Crossing a fine concrete bridge over the Gila River, the tourist traverses a good desert road to Mesa and then through irrigated country to Phoenix. A wonderfully scenic and most interesting side trip of seventy miles will take one over a good road to Roosevelt Dam.

Continuing, the route passes the ostrich farm, where one may see some two thousand of the huge birds, and soon leaving the irrigated region again plunges into the desert. It follows the Gila River over a rough and trying trail via Aguas Calientes and Castle Dome, and the Dome Crossing of the Gila River to Yuma. Improvements are projected over this stretch and may be effected this year. The Yuma Indians, with their bright shawls and gaudy kerchiefs, seen parading the main street in their bare feet, afford an interesting sight. A bridge across the Colorado is now open for traffic. The visitor is now in California, and more desert trail, fair-to-bad, takes him to Ogilsby, a station on the railroad. A new plank road across the yellow sandhills to Holtville connects with the road to El Centro, in the far-famed Imperial Valley, an extension of the Salton Sea basin. One is now some 200 feet below sea level. Graded section-line roads lead across the level flats, composed of a wonderfully fertile silt soil as fine as flour. Continuing, one has about 30 miles of level and undulating desert, then enters the mountains over a splendid highway via Campo, adjacent to the Mexican border, and on to San Diego.

The distance from Galveston to San Diego over this route is 1,883 miles, of which 1,098 is in Texas, and may be covered comfortably in about two weeks. The climate is temperate throughout in the late fall and winter. The hotel accommodations are good at Houston, Victoria, Cuero, San Antonio, Fort Stockton, El Paso, Deming, Douglas, Bisbee, Tucson, Phoenix, Yuma and El Centro, while fair-to-poor in the smaller towns. The months of September, October, November and December are the best in which to cover this route.

The Route to the Northwest

Space forbids to give the details of this route, and as it probably will not carry much of the traffic to the California Exposition, it will be described more fully at some future time. It is a most scenic and interesting route, taking in the Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and crossing the Rockies, the Bitter Root and Cascade range of mountains. From Chicago it leads via Minneapolis, Billings, Butte, Kalispell and Spokane to Seattle. The distance from New York is 3,468 miles.

The Pacific Highway

This route connects Vancouver, B.C., with Tia Juana, Mexico. It is a very scenic and interesting route, well signposted throughout. On its way it crosses many summits in the coast range and gives an opportunity to see the snowclad Mt. Ranier, Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta. The road conditions, as well as the hotel accommodations, are good-to-fair. That part of the route connecting the two expositions is called El Camino Real and is lined with many interesting old Missions. Leaving San Diego, it passes through Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, Monterey and San Jose. The distance from San Diego to San Francisco is 612 miles. North of San Francisco the route runs through Stockton, Sacramento, Redding, Medford, Eugene, Portland, Salem, Olympia and Tacoma. The distance from San Francisco to Seattle is 1,015 miles. The route gives an opportunity to visit the Mt. Ranier and Crater National Parks.

Equipment

Owing to the recent improvement of the transcontinental routes, it is no longer necessary to load one's car down with all sorts of paraphernalia to combat the many difficulties which formerly were strewed along the path, nor is it, in this day of dependable motor cars, necessary to carry a multiplicity of parts. Still it is well to outfit with a reasonably limited equipment to provide against mud, possible breakdowns and climatic changes.

To begin with, limit your personal outfit to a minimum, allowing only a suitcase to each person, and ship your trunk. Use khaki or old loose clothing. Some wraps and a tarpaulin to protect you against cool nights and provide cover in the case of being compelled to sleep outdoors are essential. Amber glasses, not too dark, will protect your eyes against the glare of the desert. You will, of course, want a camera, but remember that the high lights of the far west will require a smaller shutter opening and shorter exposure than the eastern atmosphere.

Carry sixty feet of 5/8-inch Manila rope, a pointed spade, small axe with the blade protected by a leather sheet, a camp lantern, a collapsible canvas bucket with spout and a duffle bag for the extra clothing and wraps. Start out with new tires all around, of the same size if possible, and two extra tires also, with four extra inner tubes. Select a tire with tough fabric; this is economical and will save annoyance. Use only the best grade of lubricating oil and carry a couple of one-gallon cans on running-board as extra supply, because you may not always be able to get the good oil you ought to use.

And, mark this well, carry two three-gallon canvas desert waterbags, then see that they are filled each morning. Give your car a careful inspection each day for loose bolts or nuts and watch grease cups and oilcups. Carry two sets of chains and two jacks, and add to your usual tool equipment a coil of soft iron wire, a spool of copper wire and some extra spark plugs.

West of the Missouri carry a small commissary of provisions, consisting of canned meat, sardines, crackers, fresh fruit or canned pineapples and some milk chocolate for lunches. The lack of humidity in the desert sections, combined with the prevalence of hard water west of the Missouri River is liable to cause the hair to become dry and to cause chaps and blisters on the face and hands as well as cause the fingernails to become brittle and easily broken. To prevent this, carry a jar of outing cream and a good hair cleanser. Use them every night.

Updated: 10/16/2013
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