The Pacific Highway
U.S. Highway 99--predecessor to Interstate 5.
A CRUSHED ROCK HIGHWAYGrowing out of the action of the county court a short time ago, perhaps, when it ordered the unmentionable condition of the main county thoroughfare out of Ashland northward toward Talent improved with crushed rock, has come an agitation for the continuance of the improvement northward through the county until the main highway across Jackson County shall be, if not a Roman road, different from anything Oregonians have been accustomed to be satisfied with in the past.
NEEDED FROM ASHLAND NORTH THROUGH THE COUNTY
County Commissioners Are Asked to Provide for it in the Coming Annual Budget--Everybody Wants Good Roads; Let's Have 'Em
The project for the crushed rock improvement of the road leading into Ashland from the north is held in abeyance temporarily and perhaps until spring, owing to the unexpected antics of the weather man, who with his freak actions has played havoc with many an out-of-door plan this fall. The county court had arranged for securing a large amount of crushed rock from the Warren Company's plant below Eagle Mills, used in the recent paving operations in Ashland. It was to be gotten out after certain work in Medford was completed, and Roadmaster True had his plans set to go at the work of placing the rock, when all plans of the Warren Company were knocked into a cocked hat by the weather man. It is reported that they have suspended work on their paving contract at Medford until spring, which it is expected carries with it a suspension of the much-needed road improvement project for a like period, unless the county crusher outfit should be called into requisition after the unfavorable weather conditions now prevailing are past.
Meantime the road into Ashland from the north is as fierce as ever, and, in fact, all but impassable, having been greatly aggravated by the heavy hauling of last summer and fall by the paving company's outfits to and from the rock crushing plant.
Jackson County has made more progress in road building in the last few years than ever before in her history, notably in the administration of County Judge Dunn, whose improvement policy is being largely followed under the present regime, but there a room for great improvements yet. Everybody believes in good roads. Why not have them as far as the main county thoroughfare is concerned, at least? The county commissioners are soon to fix the apportionment of taxes for the coming year and make up the budget of probable expenses. A good round levy for road purposes will meet with less objection on the part of the taxpayers and the public than any other feature of the budget.
Ashland Tidings, December 6, 1909, page 1
OREGON AND CALIFORNIA SHAKE HANDS
Business Men Meet California State Highway Board and Engineer
at Cole's Station and Discuss with Them Matter of State Highway.
JACKSON COUNTY'S PLANS ELOQUENTLY SET FORTH
After Luncheon Party Walks to Border Line and Are Photographed
Shaking Hands Across It.
Oregon met California Monday and shook hands across the border near Cole's station. The occasion was the presence of the California Highway Commission and the state road engineer upon a tour of inspection of the various routes, one of which will be selected for the eighteen-million-dollar highway California is to build from Mexico to Oregon. Those who did the handshaking across the line comprised a hundred officials and citizens of Siskiyou County, California and Jackson County, Oregon. Representatives of both counties are confident from the utterances of the commission that the Yreka-Ashland route will be selected over the Eureka or Modoc routes.
The gathering was an impromptu one. At 10 o'clock Monday morning, a phone [call] from Yreka was received by E. T. Staples at Ashland, stating that the highway commission would be at Cole's at 2:30 o'clock that afternoon, escorted by a delegation of Siskiyou County people and requesting representatives from Jackson County so that Oregon's claims and promises could be properly presented [to] the California commission. Inside of an hour a dozen automobiles from both Medford and Ashland were on their way across the Siskiyous. At Cole's, an elaborate luncheon was provided by Mrs. Cole and fruit of all kinds was distributed by the Ashland delegation.
Jackson County's plans for good roads and the story of the million-and-a-half-dollar bond issue was eloquently set forth by Judge W. M. Colvig, Mayor W. H. Canon, W. H. Gore and other Medford speakers, by E. T. Staples and Mayor Neil and other Ashland speakers, and the purposes of the Jackson County court set forth by County Commissioner Geo. L. Davis. The supervisors of the Siskiyou County and several of the leading citizens of Yreka responded, pledging cooperation with Jackson County in road building. The members of the California state commission and their engineer also spoke briefly, and while not openly committing themselves, left the impression that the Siskiyou route for the El Camino road would be selected as the most practical, benefiting the most people, and the best from a scenic standpoint.
After luncheon, the party walked to the border line and were photographed shaking hands across it. Among these from Medford were Mayor Canon, John D. Olwell, G. L. Davis, J. A. Westerlund, W. H. Gore, W. M. Colvig, J. M. Root and G. Putnam. Among the Ashland contingent were E. V. Carter, E. T. Staples, F. D. Wagner, Otto Winter, F. G. McWilliams, L. L. Mulit, G. F. billings and others.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 17, 1911, page 1 The photograph mentioned was printed in the Oregon Journal on December 8, 1911, page 18.
WANT ROAD TO CENTRAL POINT MADE SHORTERA movement was started this morning to have the proposed asphalt macadam road to Central Point changed from its present location to parallel the railroad track. It is pointed out that this would be a straightaway continuation of Central Avenue and would be over a half mile shorter than the present road which contains several angles. If the road was next to the railroad track it would be without a curve or an angle of any kind and would indeed be a boulevard.
J. S. Howard Points Out Benefit of Locating Asphalt Macadam Road in Straight Line Parallel to Southern Pacific Railroad.
WOULD SAVE HALF MILE IN DISTANCE; NO ANGLES
Cost for Right of Way Would Be Offset by Savings in Building Shorter Route.
J. S. Howard is fathering the movement. In outlining his plans, he prepared the following statement.
To the editor: The county court has contracted to expend $12,000 a mile to make an asphalt macadam road to Central Point. (Good.) Now if the county is to spend that amount why not get the best results possible for the money? Why not extend North Central Avenue to straight through parallel with the railroad to the south end of First Street in Central Point?
The following facts are in favor of the change of the road: First, the distance by the present road from East Main Street, Medford to the south end of First Street, Central Point is 22,300 feet or 4.22 miles. The distance from East Main and Central Avenue, Medford, to the south end of First Street, Central Point, by a line parallel with the railroad is 19,500 feet or approximately 3.7 miles, a difference of nearly one-half mile. Now, in good weather there are about 500 vehicles each day passing over the road to Central Point and if the road was laid out parallel to the railroad it would mean a saving of 250 miles of travel each day and save construction and maintenance of the extra road. Second, from the north end of Central Avenue as laid out through the Ish-Gore addition to the city of Medford, to the south end of First Street, Central Point, the distance is 9800 feet or 1.86 miles. This is all the new road to be laid out, and you have only three property owners to deal with. A road sixty feet wide would take an area of 13.40 acres, worth at the most $500 an acre, which would make the cost of the road $6,700 if it had to be all condemned. Now at $12,000 per mile, the saving of a half mile in distance would offset the cost of condemning new road.
The above facts show that we can get a road to Central Point parallel with the railroad and as straight as an arrow, save over a half mile in distance and have one of the most magnificent drives in the valley, and the ground would be less difficult for construction.
If any move is made it must be made soon before construction starts. The Commercial Club should take the matter up at once, securing the cooperation of the Central Point club. The automobile club should make a hustle. The farmers clear to the north end of the country would be benefited.
J. S. HOWARD.Medford Mail Tribune, June 14, 1911, page 1
To the Editor: Permit me to add a little to the subject of a straight road to Central Point. Since my communication a day or two ago I find that a great interest in the matter has developed. While in a general way we all knew that the county court contemplated improving the road between Medford and Central Point, we never thought that they proposed improving it in the splendid and substantial manner contemplated in their present action. Otherwise the matter of placing the costly improvements on the shortest and best route would have received more serious consideration.
Howard Has More Facts.
If a railroad or private corporation had the matter of such expensive improvements under advisement they would investigate every feature of the situation and would thoroughly explore every part of the country traversed to find the shortest and best route before making such permanent improvements. If one-half mile can be saved it will mean a saving of 250 miles per day, counting all the travel passing over the route, which at 5 cents per mile would cost the public $12.50 a day or $4500 per year, or 6 percent on $75,000. These things would all be considered in railway construction. Another item: Central Avenue is already paved for over one-half mile nearer than any other thoroughfare.
There has never been any revision of the present county road since the early emigration passed through the valley before its settlement in 1846. The requirements of the emigrant travel were wood, water and grass, and these requirements were met by keeping as near Bear Creek as possible. Hence the location of the present county road, unchanged or over 60 years, except where the improvement of donation land claims pushed it out of its general course and made many unseemly angles.
The "old mossbacks" have been severely criticized by the late, more progressive, element, so now if they are willing to practice what they preach, let them get out and hustle for modern improvements and straight and good roads. I saw the county judge last evening and he said the contract was not fully signed up as yet and that he would hold the matter in abeyance for a few days if our people wished to act. Now you progressive fellows from the effete East, get a hustle on you and show us old mossbacks what you can do.
J. S. HOWARD.Medford Mail Tribune, June 16, 1911, page 4
Siskiyou Highway Beekman's Dream
"It has been one of my desires of my life to see a fine highway over the Siskiyous," states C. C. Beekman, pioneer banker of Jackson County and for upwards of half a century one of its leading citizens. "Ever since I conducted the express office at Jacksonville in the early '50s and carried millions in gold over the mountains for the argonauts, I have looked forward to the time when the two states should be permanently linked together by a trunk highway. The old trail of pioneer days served its purpose long ago, and the toll road which followed it has also had its day. The time is ripe for the coming of the real highway, one that both county and state can be proud of, and one that will provide a fitting entrance into the most beautiful valley in the country that is the gateway to the finest state of the Northwest.
"The road bonds to be voted upon September 9 offer a businesslike and practical method for highway construction. I am heartily in favor of the improvement and sincerely hope the bonds will carry."
C. C. BEEKMAN.Ashland Tidings, September 8, 1913, page 1
BROKE GROUND FOR THE NEW PACIFIC HIGHWAYConstruction of the Pacific Highway has been officially commenced. The ceremonies of Friday afternoon were epoch marking. They signaled the commencement of the first hard-surfaced link, outside the confines of the cities, of the great Pacific Highway. In fact, they inaugurated work on one of the first, if not the first, hard-surfaced road in the national highway system.
SAM HILL TURNS FIRST DIRT--SPEECHES BY HILL, GOV. WEST AND OTHERS
MARK INAUGURATION OF BIG PROJECT
The group of men who gathered around Samuel Hill when he turned the first shovel full of dirt was a notable one. Mr. Hill, a man of international fame as a road builder, as well as a former railroad head of ability, had journeyed from his home in the state of Washington to take the leading part in the work. With him stood Oswald West, the chief official of this great commonwealth. Major Bowlby, the state highway engineer, who will have charge of the building of the highway, was also present, as was J. S. Howard the father of Medford, the veteran engineer who first demonstrated the possibility of a highway over the Siskiyous which would be both efficient and scenic. Gathered around the historic group were Judge Tou Velle and the members of the country court and other county officials, the mayor and city officials of Ashland and other citizens of Jackson County to the number of about 125.
The scene of the ceremonies was just above the junction of the California road with the Green Springs Mountain road to Klamath Falls. The party, which left Ashland about 1:30 in the afternoon, reached there about 2:30 and no time was lost in preliminaries.
William Colvig, president of the Medford Commercial Club, acted as master of ceremonies, and after a few well-chosen remarks handed to Mr. Hill a shovel, the handle of which was finished in gold and the blade in silver. On the handle was the inscription, "Samuel Hill, Siskiyou Mountain Highway, November 28, 1913," while the blade carried the inscription, "State Highway commission, Oswald West, Governor; Ben W. Olcott, Secretary of State; Thomas B. Kay, State Treasurer; H. L. Bowlby, State Highway Engineer." "F. L. Tou Velle, County Judge; W. C. Leever, County Commissioner; J. C. Smith, County Commissioner; Keasal & McDowell, Contractors."
Mr. Hill accepted the shovel and before inserting it in the soil paid high tribute to Jackson County for taking the lead in good road building and informed them that the eyes of the nation were upon Oregon and especially upon the Rogue River Valley. If the people of Jackson County received full value for money expended, then the good work would go on throughout the state and throughout the nation. If they did not, then it would stop. He also highly complimented Governor West and others and paid a eulogistic tribute to the building of good roads, after which he turned a shove of earth toward the construction of the road.
Following the address of Mr. Hill there were loud calls for Governor West, who responded briefly. Governor West declared also that the success of the good roads movement depended largely upon whether or not the people got one dollar's worth of road for every dollar expended and expressed the opinion that under the "tireless" Judge Tou Velle it would get full measure for its investment. He then alluded to the efforts being made by disgruntled contractors to besmirch the character of Judge Tou Velle and others and stated that he had directed the prosecuting attorney to take the matter up. Governor West declared that he had known for three months that efforts had been made to "get next" the Jackson County court, and that the parties had pursued the same tactics in other places to force officials to buy their wares. He declared no firm need come to the state highway commission and seek business unless their hands were clean, as they would not get it.
J. S. Howard called the attention of Governor West to the fact that in the past when a melon was cut by the state of Oregon the slice handed to Southern Oregon was so thin that you could read the Lord's prayer through it, and expressed hope that the $250,000 voted for good roads would be more equitably divided. He was assured that it would.
Bert R. Greer assured the county court of the belief of the citizens of Ashland in their integrity and pledged the support of the community in all good works, after which the party returned to Ashland.
Ashland Tidings, December 1, 1913, page 1
Proposed Pacific Highway to Follow Ancient SurveyThe writer, with probably a majority of the rest of the citizens of the valley, has often wondered why it was that the highway leading down the valley ever made the detour around over the hill north from the Billings [railroad] crossing instead of continuing in an almost straight line down alongside the higher ground to the sulphur springs as is proposed by the highway engineers. A Tidings representative happened to get to talking with Welborn Beeson of Talent a few days ago on the matter and he gave a very interesting bit of history.
Welborn Beeson, Sr., the father of the present gentleman of that name and of Emmett Beeson, was a surveyor in Jackson County in the early days. He was engaged as engineer in laying out the old county road and his survey was very nearly that of the present Pacific Highway survey except that it went above the springs near the bank instead of below them, and then nearly followed the present railroad grade into Main Street. The road was laid out on that line, and the construction of the road was stopped by an injunction gotten out by the then owners of the Eagle Mill, which it would have left to one side of the main road.
Mr. Beeson is strong in his advocacy of the line as proposed by the highway engineers and believes that it should be used if the right of way can be secured at any reasonable price. Mr. Beeson characterizes the Billings crossing as very dangerous. Carl Beeson, his younger brother, was injured there a number of years ago when the wagon he was driving was struck by a train, and there have been many narrow escapes.
Ashland Tidings, December 8, 1913, page 1
'HOME MADE' ROAD IS PLAN FOR PACIFIC HIGHWAY IN JACKSONMedford, Or., Feb. 14.--County Judge Frank L. Tou Velle has gone to Chicago, where he will turn over to the bond buyers the $500,000 road bonds voted last fall by Jackson County for the improvement of the Pacific Highway, from the California border to the Josephine County line. The bonds we purchased by a syndicate composed of Wells & Dickey company of Minneapolis; C. W. McNear & Co., Chicago; Weil, Roth & Co. of Cincinnati, and R. M. Grant & Co., of New York. They paid a premium of $8.90 per $1000. The bonds are the first ever issued in Oregon and have been approved by the New York attorneys of the bond buyers. The money will be turned over to Judge Tou Velle on receipt of the bonds.
County Judge Tou Velle Takes Bonds to the Buyers at Chicago.
Contract for the grading of a new highway over the Siskiyou Mountains, 13 miles in length, 24 feet in width, with maximum 6 percent grade, and [a] cement viaduct over the railroad, has been let to J. W. Sweeney of Portland, a well-known railroad contractor, at an estimated cost of $120,000. Mr. Sweeney is working a large force of 400 men as soon as weather permits.
Bids for paving the Central Point-Medford macadamized road, four miles long, 16 feet wide, were rejected as excessive in price, and the county will pave this portion of the highway itself, laying four inches of concrete with two inches granitoid surface. If the work can be done at the estimated figure, it is probable the county will build cement road the entire distance, as it will be much cheaper than figures bid on asphaltic pavement. Paving will begin this week and be completed within 60 days from date of beginning.
The Pacific Highway in Jackson County will be graded 24 feet wide, paved 16 feet, have a maximum grade of 6 percent, no sharp turns and no railroad crossings. If made of concrete, as seems probable, all materials will be manufactured at home, the cement by the new Portland-Beaver cement plant at Gold Hill, the culverts by the Medford Concrete Construction Company, and the rock from local quarries.
Engineering and construction are under the supervision of H. L. Bowlby, state highway engineer, and Frank A. Kittredge is resident engineer. He was formerly employed in a similar capacity by the highway engineers of both Washington and California, having charge of the Cloverdale work in the latter state.
Oregon Journal, Portland, February 15, 1914, page B8
The Jackson County unit of the Pacific Highway is being built in a thorough manner, according to the best modern methods of highway construction. It will be a permanent road and a great asset to the Rogue River Valley. The stability of its construction demonstrates the efficiency and economy of state supervision. A dollar's worth of road is being secured for every dollar expended.
Contractor J. M. Sweeney, who is cutting the grade over the Siskiyou Mountains for a distance of 13 miles, says his contract is 40 percent finished. Making the usual allowance for contractor's estimate, it may be said that about one third of his work is done. The laying of the concrete pavement between Medford and Central Point, a distance of three miles, by the engineers of the state highway commission will, according to the estimate of the engineers, be completed by the middle of this month.
In the matter of construction work, about the only criticism which can be fairly made is that contractor Sweeney is not making fast enough headway. He says, however, that from now on he is going to push the work by increasing his force of laborers and teams.
In crossing the mountains the road runs east of the railroad grade, making a series of loops to the summit, along which it proceeds for quite a distance before descending the southern slope.
Easy Grades and Long Curves.The view from this backbone is a magnificent one, rivaling some of the vistas along the Columbia River. One looks down across the pine-covered ridges into the head of the Rogue River Valley on one side and into the beginning of the Shasta Valley on the other. The maximum grade is about 5 percent and the curves are long and sweeping, giving an unobstructed view to travelers for a long distance ahead, guaranteeing safety. The old road over the mountains crosses the railroad track a dozen times. All of these crossings but two have been eliminated on the new route, and these two are under the grade.
The culverts are all of concrete, and the roadway is 24 feet wide.
By railroad it now takes three hours to go from Ashland to Hilt, just across the California boundary, a distance of 40 miles. When the highway is completed the trip by automobile can be made in half the time.
It is expected to have the grading over the mountains finished by fall. The hard surface will be applied next season.
At the California state line the California highway commission has let a contract to continue the highway on towards Yreka.
About the only individual in Jackson County who will not be benefited by the highway is L. D. Dollarhide, who controls the toll road over the Siskiyous. When the highway is completed his occupation will be gone. As this is the last season he will have an opportunity to collect any revenue from his road, his toll gate is the scene of considerable friction and has led to controversy with the county court, which lately issued an order instructing him to charge only $1.50 for an automobile. Mr. Dollarhide interpreted this as meaning that he could charge the sum fixed for five passenger Ford cars, but on others he fixed the toll at $2.
Before reaching the toll gate, coming from California, the traveler is told that he will be taxed whatever amount the gatekeeper thinks he will stand for. These stories are not encouraging travel.
Some question es to the legality of Mr. Dollarhide's franchise has been raised, and it is possible that a test case will soon be made in the courts of the county.
* * *Leaving Copco, we headed toward Ashland, through Hornbrook, where we struck the Pacific Highway. Just as we were negotiating the last pitch on the Dollarhide Hill, about 100 yards from the summit, our automobile stopped. Something went wrong with the transmission. Some of the bumps we had passed over had knocked the gearing out of place. We left the car with the chauffeur and walked to Siskiyou station, where a telegram to Ashland was sent for another machine. We reached Ashland about 9 o'clock that night, and half an hour later our own car came in. The chauffeur had located the trouble.
The next morning we drove to Medford to view the concrete paving between that place and Central Point, which is being done under the direction of State Highway Engineer Bowlby. En route, as we were coming out of Ashland, Major Bowlby pointed out the spot over which there is a conflict about right of way through the Billings place. At this point the county road makes a sharp turn on a slight grade and crosses the railroad track. It is a very dangerous crossing, as an approaching train cannot be seen.
Engineer Bowlby's survey calls for a tangent, which will lead under the railroad track, eliminating all danger. But Mr. Billings is unwilling to grant the necessary right of way over his ground.
Near Medford we made a slight detour to observe a piece of road that is being macadamized under the direction of the United States office of public roads. It does not seem to be any improvement over the old system of filling up mud holes with gravel, and if national aid is to take that form it will be largely a question of pork.
Making a Cement Road.In putting down a concrete surface between Medford and Central Point, Major Bowlby wanted to demonstrate that a satisfactory pavement of concrete could be laid as well as giving a market for Jackson County cement. The pavement is 16 feet wide and the shoulders, four feet on each side, are to be of macadam. The expansion joints of the pavement are filled with tarred felt. In laying the pavement the engineers have held the cost down to a little over a dollar a running foot, and by the establishment of a central mixing plant, it is hoped to make a still further reduction in cost. Under the present system, the material is strung along the road and wheeled by hand into the mixer, which is propelled along the road by its own power. Another attachment spreads the mixture over the road to a depth of about five inches.
Immediately behind this is a huge roll, which gives a one-inch crown to the road. But little time is consumed from the time the mixture is dumped until it is spread, and there is no setting of the material until after it is in position.
Immediately behind the roll come two men with trowels, who apply the finishing touches. As soon as the concrete is laid a wet canvas is spread over it to prevent it from drying out too fast and cracking. The canvas lies over the pavement several hours. Hydrated lime is used in the mixture to hold the water. It also binds the gravel, sand and cement closer together and reduces the voids, making it more compact. The mixture being used is one part cement to seven parts aggregate. The completed part of the pavement contains no cracks and bears on its surface a refutation of the stories told by those interested in private paving companies. It is being laid at the rate of 400 feet a day.
In laying a pavement of this character it is evident that it requires great care and purity of material. It is a question whether it could be entrusted to a private contractor.
It is hoped to have the section completed by the middle of the month. It will not be open to travel until 30 days later, in order to give it time to get fully set.
No Heavy Rock Work.The next day we went out to where contractor Sweeney is making the grade over the Siskiyous. Along the 13 miles he has established five camps containing 300 men. One surprising thing in connection with the work of grading is that there is no heavy rock work. There is, however, something more difficult to handle, and that is streaks of gumbo or blue clay, which, on account of its cohesiveness, is harder to remove than rock. When powder is applied to it it only blows out in potholes. It simply has to be dug out by pick. If contractor Sweeney loses money on his contract it will be because of this same gumbo.
The road is pretty well graded to the summit and Mr. Sweeney estimates that his job, which extends to the California line, is about 40 percent done. He said that he was going to put an additional force of men at work, now that most of his overhead was arranged for, and drive it through before fall.
Mr. Sweeney said, "I feed good," and he proved it by giving us a luncheon at one of his camps. It was the best meal we had on the entire trip. There was two or three kinds of salads, roast beef, cold tongue, berries, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, three kinds of pie, strawberry shortcake and ice cream.
"I find it pays to feed men good," repeated Mr. Sweeney. Even if you make allowance for its being a special occasion, the meal demonstrated that "Sweeney feeds good," and that the men live well for the $6 a week he charges them. The wages paid are $2 per day. For the thirteen miles of grade Mr. Sweeney will receive about $130,000.
Pacific Highway Well Under Way
The Talent-Ashland section of the Pacific Highway is being rapidly constructed. According to the account of a Talent citizen, the grading is now completed, the only thing remaining to be done being the putting on [of] the asphaltum. The roadbed will be allowed to settle thoroughly, and then the asphalt will be put on in the usual manner. Motorists in Talent and Ashland are looking forward to the time when they can munch along the road without watching out for fear of breaking springs or skinning tires.
The decrease in expense for tires alone will be no small item in one year among the auto owners of the city.
Ashland Tidings, August 27, 1914, page 1
Siskiyou Opens Thursday Next
The new Pacific Highway over the Siskiyous will be opened next Thursday. The occasion will be celebrated by automobilists, if the weather permits. A great number of cars will leave Medford at 9 o'clock Thursday morning, being joined here by others at 10 o'clock, and the trip will be made in grand procession. It is a momentous event. It will mark an epoch in the Rogue River Valley. Every automobilist should make the trip.
Take your lunch along. The occasion will be one grand picnic festival. The company will take their lunches at a suitable point on the great Pacific Highway.
Ashland Tidings, November 2, 1914, page 1
The Pacific Highway PicnicOnly about half of the automobiles that started over the Siskiyou grade today got all the way. Heavy rains lately had so softened the grade as to render it exceedingly hard of traffic. About forty automobiles made the trip.
The Siskiyou grade is certainly a fine one, and when completed and hard-surfaced will be one of the best on the coast.
Ashland Tidings, November 5, 1914, page 1
Ashland-Medford Highway Opens Not Later than Dec. 1stJudge Tou Velle informs the Tidings the Pacific Highway will be completed between Medford and Ashland by the middle of this month and will be opened for travel the entire distance not later than the first of December.
Between Phoenix and Talent there still is about a half mile to be surfaced, while about a mile between Talent and Ashland is to be completed. The paving has been opened to travel the entire distance, it being necessary to travel the temporary roads only along the unfinished mile and one-half in the two places mentioned above.
It is the consensus of opinion that the contract work between Talent and Ashland will be more satisfactory to the people generally than the stretch from Talent to Central Point. This opinion is caused almost entirely by reason of the surface. The Talent-Central Point highway has not been surfaced smoothly but is considered by the county board to be more durable and will need less repair in the years to come than the Talent-Ashland part.
There has been some talk of smooth-surfacing from Talent to Central Point, but this has not been decided by the county board.
One thing is certain in the minds of all who have gone over the highway--when completed Jackson County will have the best roads on the Pacific Coast.
The paving will stop at the foot of the Jackson hill until legal questions can be more thoroughly gone into by the city and county officials over the matter of right of way.
A general inspection of the Siskiyou section of the Pacific Highway took place last Thursday, when about sixty-five Ashland and Medford citizens autoed to the big grade. The citizens went at the invitation of J. W. Sweeney, the highway contractor. It was through the efforts of the Commercial Club and Mayor Johnson that so many autoists were persuaded to go. The roads on the highway was very muddy and many cars got stuck and some turned back without attempting the grade. The recent rains had made the red dirt a continuous mudhole. One car, when being pulled out of a sinkhole, had the whole rear end jerked out from under it. Mayor Johnson [got] stuck with his car coming down the 7-percent grade and had to impress the services of about eight men to get him out.
But, despite the difficulties encountered on account of the condition of the road, the wonderful work was given much attention, and those who had seen it were surprised beyond measure.
Some indulged in a picnic dinner on the mountain.
Those in the party from Ashland were: Mayor Johnson, Prof. Vining, Bert R. Greer, Mr. and Mrs. Benton Bowers, Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Whited, Charles Wolf, D. Perozzi, Emil Peil, Ira Shoudy, Sylvester Patterson, Mrs. Kinsman, S. Morris, Olson Ridstrom, Van Wegen, C. W. Root, Dr. Brower, A. L. Lamb and Mr. Grisez. From Medford there were: Boone Carpenter, W. H. Gore, P. J. Neff, F. E. Merrick, Commissioner Leever, Will G. Steel, Marion Lance, J. A. Perl, J. J. Buchter, Leon Haskins, A. H. Miller, C. .M Kidd, John M. Root, Walter Merrick, Jonas Wold, County Judge Tou Velle, Peter Kershaw, H. C. Garnett, Court Hall, Ed Brown, L. B. Kent, E. A. Welch, J. A. Westerlund, C. Y. Tengwald, Senator Von der Hellen, R. A. Holmes, Mahlon Purdin, Edward Soutter, Ralph Woodford, Art Burgess, A. S. Rosenbaum, H. G. Shearer, H. A. Thierolf, Ben Sheldon, John Bell, Bob Teller, F. A. Kittredge, Fred A. Powell, J. C. Power, Ed Weston, Carl Heilbronner and G. E. Boos.
Ashland Tidings, November 9, 1914, page 1
Tourist Road Through Rogue River Valley
By F. L. TouVelle, County Judge, Medford.
On November 24, 1914, paving on the first link in Oregon of the great Pacific Highway connecting San Diego, Cal. with Vancouver, B.C. was completed. This link consists of fourteen miles of new pavement and connects the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point.
Besides the fourteen miles of pavement, the new grade over the Siskiyou Mountains is pronounced by the few tourists who have been over it to be a boulevard.
Work was initiated on this tourist highway in July, 1913, by the county court, who believed that the people were willing and anxious to bond themselves for the sake of building a good serviceable road not only for their own sake but for the sake of the tourist travel. The hard work of the campaign in the interest of bonding for the purpose of building a permanent hard-surface road was to convince the farmer and property holder of its necessity for their progress and prosperity.
It was believed by the county court, and many others of those who had had a large experience in these matters in other localities, that if the one barrier separating California from the Rogue River Valley could be removed, and a first-class road built in the valley, the county would receive an inflow of tourists. Before this road was built tourists came to California and either stayed there or got on the train and shipped their autos to Portland.
By so doing they passed through the Rogue River Valley and were compelled to satisfy their interest in the valley, which has been aroused by expensive advertising and by the wonderful climate and fruit reports which have reached them, by standing on the observation car or looking through the windows. The progressive people of the valley figured out that these people could be made to travel through the valley by auto, if they would provide the roadway; that the tourists would continue their course northward into this valley, and that not only would their desire to see this valley and its wonderful attractions during a few days or weeks be satisfied, but that many of them would return to invest and make this their home. The valley's climate, her mineral and health-giving springs and her unsurpassed fruit-raising possibilities would be advertised to a great extent among the class who can benefit the valley, and which would be impossible to accomplish by any other means.
With these conditions in mind the court submitted the proposition to the people for their verdict, and upon September 9, 1913, they declared themselves in sympathy with the court and their progressive ideas by an overwhelming majority, and voted $500,000 for road work. Jackson County was the first county in which an election was held under the new law authorizing counties to bond themselves for road building.
The proposition as put up to the people was to begin at the California-Oregon state line and build northward through the valley, and with this in mind the county court and the California highway engineers met at the state line and decided on the beginning point. The survey was promptly begun and in November the contract for the construction of this heavy work was let. Actual work did not start until the following March. The building has progressed during the summer, and at the present writing the entire job is complete with the exception of the building of one concrete viaduct over the railroad and the excavation connected therewith.
Many people who have been over the route pronounce it one of the most beautiful and picturesque trips on the coast. The light grades and long, easy curves of the roadway make it a trip where the mountain scenery can be taken advantage of without the usual danger and fatigue encountered so often on the narrow roads of the mountainous regions.
Beginning at the California-Oregon state line the Pacific Highway follows along the hillside at an elevation of about 350 feet above the valley and continues to climb on a 6 percent grade for a mile, then runs on an approximately level grade, passing around the hillsides and in and out of small valleys until we approach Bear Creek Canyon. Along this canyon the hillsides are very steep, and as the road climbs along the rocky benches one may look into the depths of the canyon below and at the cliffs towering above. The curves are all very easy, thus making it a safe route in spite of the steep hillside. At the end of this grade is a bench which is nearly the same elevation as the summit at the pass. The road travels along this shelf with light grades and graceful curves for two miles. From this point the tourist is able to look southward and see Mt. Shasta and Shasta Valley in California. At the left he looks down into the depths of the valley at his feet. Here and there the valley is dotted with farm houses, surrounded by green fields and trees. The slope of the valley's floor affords fine pasture for cattle and sheep, thus adding to the rural effect. From the tourist's point of view this is an ideal stretch of road, for he has the two extremes of scenery in view at once--the grandeur of the rocks and cliffs immediately above, and below him the peaceful valley. Across the valley may be seen the long ribbon of steel of the Southern Pacific Railway, when the sun is reflected, as the track winds in and out around the hills in an effort to get to the floor of the valley with as easy [a] grade as possible.
Along this stretch of road is a spring of water so cold that it makes one's teeth hurt, and of sufficient quantity to keep a little stream running during the hottest season.
The pass is reached and crossed and one looks down into beautiful Rogue River Valley, over miles of wooded mountains and cliffs, and the floor of the valley beyond and Mt. Pitt in the distance.
The highway follows the ridge for a short distance with a view of both valleys--one into Oregon and the other into California, visible at the same time, then it dips and runs along the hillside toward the railway station at Siskiyou at the north entrance of the long Southern Pacific tunnel. Many long curves are necessary on this route, but our plan of keeping the curves big enough so as to give a long visible stretch ahead has been maintained. At Siskiyou the road approaches the track on a 6 percent grade, turns through three-quarters of a circle, and follows on down the hillside making a hairpin curve. From this point down to Steinman it is necessary to develop considerable distance and put in quite a number of curves in order to get down on a 6 percent grade. At Steinman it is necessary to make a complete loop and come around under ourselves in order to save a tremendously expensive fill. The highway crosses the Southern Pacific tracks on an overhead bridge built of reinforced concrete, then makes the big loop and comes around under another concrete span, carrying the highway over itself. We have another reinforced concrete bridge over the railway at Dollarhide crossing to avoid the grade crossing. It has been our policy to do away entirely with all railroad grade crossings in order to avoid danger to life. By the building of this new road six very dangerous railroad grade crossings will be eliminated. It is the belief of the county court and State Highway Engineer Bowlby that when an expensive road is being built, and an expensive pavement placed on it, it shall be so located that the people a few years hence will not have to abandon the road because of its dangerous crossings and heavy grades. Considerable opposition has developed to under- or overhead crossings in the county, but it is the belief that the plan of absolute safety to life, and the building for future traffic as well as for the present, will be approved by all.
Two miles more of grade, winding in and out along wooded hillsides, and the floor of the valley is reached and the highway winds along ranch scenes that were viewed from the summit thousands of feet above. It leads past mineral springs famous from the earliest days. Just off the road are the wonderful lithia springs, hot sulphur, soda, iron, magnesia and soda, and a number of carbon dioxide springs of tremendous flow, now being utilized for drinking and bathing, which form the basis for Ashland's watering resort. The road passes through Ashland, a beautiful city at the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, well paved and pleasantly situated. With the development which this city has now under way for the springs and summer resort possibilities, she will be far ahead of any other city of her class between San Francisco and Portland from the tourist point of view.
From the foot of Jackson Hill, at the west limits of Ashland, to the county farm just north of Talent, the roadway has been paved with asphaltic concrete. This pavement is five inches thick and sixteen feet wide. From the county farm on to Medford the pavement is six inches thick, sixteen feet wide, and consists of Portland cement concrete. Also the pavement from Medford to Central Point is of Portland cement concrete.
The fourteen and one-quarter miles of asphaltic concrete was laid by contract, while the Portland cement concrete, nine and three-quarter miles, was laid by the county and state direct, without letting of contract. This was not contracted because of the extreme amount of care required to put this pavement down right. For instance, the omitting of a bag of cement here and there, or by cutting down the number of turns of the mixer for each batch of concrete, the whole pavement may be ruined.
State Highway Engineer Bowlby and his efficient resident engineer, F. A. Kittredge, under whose supervision this work was done by request of the county court, have made it not only imperative that this work be done with great care and accuracy, but that the theoretical principles of concrete road building be followed out. It has been their plan to be guided not only by their own experience but also by the experience of those men throughout the country who have been laying concrete pavements for years in other states. By numerous and constant experiments in other states the theoretical and practical methods of road building have been united and developed, and they have taken advantage of this to the greatest possible extent.
Between Ashland and Central Point the road passes through the most thickly settled part of Rogue River Valley, and now that it is paved makes travel and freighting very easy and pleasant between the cities. The tourist will truly feel himself in the land of wonders, for he has traveled in only a short time from the rugged mountaintops to the beautiful valley of apple and pear orchards.
After leaving Central Point the road again approaches the foothills, passes over the Blackwell Hills, where there is a stretch of road from which the river, valley land and orchard form a wonderful panoramic view.
Farther on the road crosses Rogue River, passes through Gold Hill and thence on down along the river's edge to the town of Rogue River, and thence along the river to the Josephine County line. For the last sixteen miles before reaching the county line the Pacific Highway follows the banks of Rogue River, and the trip is one of continual change of scenery, new vistas of mountain and valley opening up with each curve of the road.
It has been the effort of all concerned to so locate the Pacific Highway as not only to make the most permanent road with the least money, but also to take advantage of and show to the tourist travel of the world much of the diversified and more wonderful possibilities of the Rogue River Valley.
Ashland Tidings, December 31, 1914, page B1
FIRST PAVING ON THE PACIFIC HIGHWAY BY JACKSON COUNTYMedford, Or., March 3.--Jackson County claims the distinction of being the first county in Oregon to do any paving on the Pacific Highway. From Central Point, through Medford, Phoenix and Talent to Ashland, a total of 18 miles, the work is finished. The grades are practically level. The turns are few and far between. The hard surface is good for more miles per hour than safety and the laws of the state permit. If you want a practical demonstration of what paved roads mean to a community, just take a trip down here.
Has Finished in Good Shape, Eighteen Miles from Central Point to Ashland.
VALUE OF PAVING SHOWN
People of the County Have Spent Money Freely on Grades Through the Siskiyous.
By J. W. Morris
Consulting Engineer Oregon State Motor Association.
If you have not the time, go over and talk to the Southern Pacific officials. Once upon a time, the time of mud roads, they had a flourishing motor service over their rails. With the coming of the pavement in 1915, there sprang into existence a line of interurban motor buses, with various and divers "jits" on the side. Now the rail motor is no more. It gave a few dying kicks and then turned over on its side for evermore. The new service is comfortable and frequent, every half hour. The fare is 1½ cents per mile, half the rate of the railroad.
San Francisco in EvidenceI find that there exists down here quite a feeling that Jackson County is the Poland of Oregon and California. They look upon Portland and the Willamette Valley as one empire and upon Southern Oregon as another. While the territory belongs to Portland commercially, I am told that the San Francisco jobbers make up to the merchants the small differential in the freight rate. At any rate, the hotel registers show more people for San Francisco than from Portland. As this is the winter season, it is not illogical to conclude that these traveling men from the south are not up here for their health.
Portland Has Been Fair.On one point, the one, fortunately, in which the Oregon State Motor Association is most interested, it is agreed that Portland has been fair. That point is road legislation. The people of Jackson County have spent their money like good sports on the grade through the Siskiyous to the California line. And they have something to show for it. With grade crossings eliminated, with 6 percent grades and with easy curves, this part of the highway, when paved, will offer an attraction to the tourist which will not soon be forgotten. It has not as yet reached its proper share of publicity, but for scenic splendor it is not to be surpassed. Coming from the south, the foot of the mountains is reached 11 miles this side of the Oregon-[California] line. Then commences the beautiful valley of the Rogue. Healthy orchards stretch on both sides, interspersed with vigorous alfalfa fields and green pastures. The handsome farm houses bespeak a prosperity which cannot be faked. The towns through which you pass are up to the minute in their improvements. If you stop over, you will find Ashland and Medford supplied with water as pure as that which has made Portland famous. They boast, with justification, that the rainfall is only 21 inches, but I suspect that they have some job on hand to make the traveler believe this of Oregon.
Get the Most Out of Autos.Jackson County has 1500 automobiles, and they are owned by a class of people who get the most out of them. I have seen every make from a Lizzie to a Loco. Broadway and Washington is not the only spot in Oregon where you have to keep your eyes open for traffic. If you don't believe this, try going to sleep on Main Street in Medford.
Several years ago, an automobile club was started in Medford, but it died aborning. Probably just as well. No isolated club can accomplish much. The old Automobile Club of Portland with 600 members realized this, hence its reorganization into a statewide institution. Jackson County will become quite an important factor in the association. They are fully awake to the value of publicity. When they get into harness with the same vim on cooperation they will certainly give a good accounting of Southern Oregon.
Oregon Journal, Portland, March 4, 1917, page B5
A GLIMPSE OF THE PACIFIC HIGHWAY
NEW ROAD IN JACKSON OF RARE BEAUTY
The following story was written by M. F. Duryea, formerly secretary of the Ashland Commercial Club, but now executive secretary of the Moline, Ill. Commercial Club, and appeared in The Road Maker of Moline:
The Pacific Highway is a great international highway from British Columbia to the Mexican border, passing through the coast states of Washington, Oregon and California. To it might well be applied the advertising slogan of the great railroad system that parallels it for hundreds of miles; it is indeed a "road of a thousand wonders"! Not only does this highway traverse a country rich in scenic beauty, but leading from it are roads of the most magnificent scenic attractions of the United States.
The touring motorist will find much to interest him as he journeys over this main artery of travel up and down the western part of the United States, for it will lead him through fruitful valleys and thriving towns, along peaceful rivers and mountain torrents, through shadowy forests and over mountaintops and close to snow-clad peaks. Like the kaleidoscope of his boyhood days, each turn will bring before him a new combination in tree and field and sky that makes a picture long to be remembered.
One of the most beautiful and wonderful stretches of the Pacific Highway is that from Medford, in the lovely Rogue River Valley of Southern Oregon, to Hornbrook, California, crossing the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains. Not only is this stretch of the highway wonderful from a scenic standpoint, it is even more remarkable as a piece of splendid engineering in road construction.
The old journey over the Siskiyous, on what was known as the Dollarhide toll road, was one of discomfort, as well as danger. It was a "rough and rugged road," with grades as high as 30 percent, that taxed the best of machines. Seven grade crossings over the Southern Pacific railway made it dangerous, for at all of them the grade on rail and road was heavy. The new road, laid out in masterly fashion from the northern slope of the Siskiyous to the California line by Frank A. Kittredge, the engineer in charge of construction for the Oregon State Highway Commission, has no grade crossing, and its maximum grade is 6 percent. The Southern Pacific tracks are crossed but twice on the journey to the summit from Ashland, and in each instance the motorist finds a splendid concrete bridge to carry him over in safety. A fine piece of engineering is the approach to the first of these bridges with a great, broad and easy loop thrown out over the mountainside, around which the motorist may drive at full speed.
Automobile drivers will discover this new highway to be easy work, for its broad, sweeping curves and light grades do not impose any tax on his strength or nerves. All curves, except the "blind" ones, are built with a radius of 100 feet; the "blind" curves are built on a 150-foot radius. All the curves are slightly banked to the inside for safety and to allow drivers to take grades on speed. The roadway on the Oregon side is twenty-four feet wide at all places, with an increase in width on curves where necessary for safety. On the California side the roadway is somewhat narrower, but the grading is similar to that of the Oregon side.
The progressive people of Jackson County, Oregon, have bonded themselves for $500,000 for the purpose of constructing a paved highway from the north boundary of the county to the California line. Part of this work has been completed, and the tourist on the Pacific Highway can now speed over a sixteen-foot pavement from Central Point, through Medford, the gateway to Crater Lake, to the southern limits of the city of Ashland.
The state of Oregon is assisting in the work of paving the highway over the Siskiyous. This will be what is known as a "two-course" cement pavement, six inches in depth, with a top dressing of rich mixture.
In order not to interfere with the heavy tourist travel over this road in the summer season, the state is laying an eight-foot strip of the pavement first. Later on another similar strip will be laid, making altogether a sixteen-foot pavement across the mountains. The distance from Ashland to the summit of the Siskiyous over the Pacific Highway is sixteen miles, and to the California line it is twenty-two miles.
Every foot of the journey from Medford to the California line will prove of interest to the tourist, for each turn of the road brings before him a scene of rare charm and loveliness. It passes through all of the famous orchard and farming districts of the Rogue River Valley. The view from the summit, facing southward, is almost beyond description. Ahead, and just to the left, one sees the snow-capped top of stately Mt. Shasta, one of the mighty peaks of the great Cascade Range, glistening against the exquisite blue of the California sky. Overhead, to the east, towers great Pilot Rock, guardian sentinel of the pass over the Siskiyous. To the right, down hundreds of feet, there are the tracks of the Southern Pacific, winding their tortuous way through the Shasta Valley, and the little town of Hilt, that looks like collection of toy houses. On and on to the south and west, beyond the valley, roll the hills and peaks of the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevadas, covered with snow or "with verdure clad." No man within whose breast there is a spark of love for things that are beautiful, or a reverence for the things that God has made to delight the children of men, can gaze upon this view from the Pacific Highway on the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains without receiving an impression and an inspiration that will last as long as life itself. It is truly the "road of a thousand wonders."
The people of Oregon and California may well be proud of this highway over the Siskiyous--proud of the change from the old conditions that made the journey so irksome. It is a fine investment, one that is bringing returns in increased tourist travel that will be worth millions of dollars in the years to come. It is a fine investment as well from the standpoint of the pleasure and comfort it will bring to the citizens of Oregon and California, and to the thousands of motorists who visit the Pacific Coast each year in search of health and recreation.
The tourist who neglects to take this trip--who fails to experience the beauty and grandeur of it--will leave unwritten one of the best pages of the story of his sojourn on the Pacific Cost.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 5, 1917, page 9
PROGRESS OF PACIFIC ROAD BUILDERS.
A large force of men and teams has worked through the winter placing crushed stone on the Pacific Highway in the Siskiyous on the California side. The surface is yet rough, but within a few weeks it will be covered with crushed stone, with a surface very much like smooth pavement in appearance and in durability. Owing to bad weather and the isolated location, this has been a difficult piece of work, but Superintendent M. J. Tilly has demonstrated his ability as an engineer.
Mr. Tilly has other forces on the highway along the Klamath and Shasta rivers, which are maintaining a smooth roadway and widening the road. This portion of the highway is a very good road at present, but the California commission is not satisfied with anything short of the best in meeting the requirements of highway traffic.
The commission has appropriated for the macadamizing of that portion of the highway along the Klamath and Shasta rivers, and this work will be rushed to accommodate the coming summer traffic.
The Road-Maker, March 1918, page 70
Bids for much other work were to be considered at a subsequent meeting, including regrade work at Smith Hill, in Josephine County; the paving of that part of Pacific Highway extending from the Oregon-California line on the summit of [the] Siskiyou Mountains northerly to the foot of the mountains; grading of Pacific Highway between Oakdale and Myrtle Creek, the county of Douglas offering to pay $10,000, the state paying the rest; grading and paving the highway between Albany and Tangent, in which Linn County is to cooperate with the state; paving 7 miles of highway from Jefferson northward; closing up unpaved gaps on Pacific Highway in Clackamas County; improvement of highway near Gold Hill in Jackson County; grading 14.1 miles of road in Columbia County between Scappoose and McBride's crossing; paving 3 miles of highway in Wasco County, between The Dalles and Seufert.
"Work Progresses in Oregon," The Road-Maker, Excavator and Grader, August 1919, page 64
NOW SPENDING $3,000,000 UPON COUNTY ROADS
Good roads and Medford are terms synonymous, although to the autoist the connection is perhaps not perfectly clear. A search into the records will indicate just how potent a factor Medford is in the good roads program now being carried out in Oregon.
From this city are handled details of work being done by the state highway commission in Jackson, Josephine and a portion of Douglas counties.
Headquarters for a force of sixty-seven engineers and assistants are located in the Medford National Bank in this city, under the general direction of K. E. Hodgman, division engineer, a very competent and efficient engineer who is always on the job.
Surveys have been tabulated and maps made here for road work in this district now under contract at a total of $2,728,288.45. This includes Tolo, Rock Point and other bridges and culverts.
Four great highways are included in those under jurisdiction of the Medford office, the total length of which is 286 miles. The Pacific Highway from the Cow Creek Canyon to the California line covers 116 miles. The Ashland-Klamath Falls highway from several miles beyond Ashland extends to Keno for a distance of 43 miles. The Medford-Crater Lake Highway from Medford to the national park boundary totals 70 miles. The Grants Pass-Crescent City highway from Grants Pass to the California line measures 47 miles.
Jackson County has completed eighteen miles of paved roads; has 68 miles under contract for grading preliminary to paving; 41¾ miles under contract for paving.
The total of the contracts for road work now under way in Jackson County is $1,891,383.00.
Of the paving work now in progress on the Pacific Highway Oscar Huber has completed about four of the twenty-one miles he has contracted for from Ashland to the California line. They will complete two or three miles more this year.
Clark & Henery have completed seven of the nine miles from Central Point to Gold Hill and will complete their work this fall. Mr. Shell, who has the contract from Gold Hill to the Josephine County line, will not lay any pavement in this county this year but will complete the work from Grants Pass to the Jackson County line this year.
On the Green Springs mountain road A. Giebisch has two steam shovels at work making good progress grading, and the Jackson County contract has two crews at work from the mountain to Jenny Creek.
Brown & Von der Hellen are making splendid headway on the Crater Lake road, clearing and grading from Prospect to Central Point.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 13, 1919, page 12
The work of closing the gap in the pavement on the Pacific Highway between the Josephine County line and Gold Hill is expected to progress rapidly, and it is confidently predicted that within a few months the highway will be paved all the way from the top of the Siskiyous to Grants Pass. The rock crusher that has been employed by the Schell company in the mining operations southeast of Grants Pass is being moved to Foots Creek, where rock will be crushed for the road building operations of the company in Jackson County.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, February 19, 1920, page 2
OREGON'S SECTION OF PACIFIC HIGHWAY
IS VIRTUALLY COMPLETE
State's Most Important Traffic Artery Stretches 345 Miles from Columbia River to California Line and Will Be Paved Throughout in 1922--
Only Short Distance in Siskiyous to Finish.
By John W. Kelly.
Oregon's section of the Pacific Highway is virtually completed. It extends 345.6 miles from the Columbia River to the Siskiyou Mountains, where it meets the California line. The few miles in this distance which are not now provided with a hard-surface pavement will have a hard-surface finish in 1922.
This is Oregon's most important traffic artery, for it threads the valleys between the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, where the population of the state is most dense. At the Columbia River, by means of the interstate bridge, it connects with the Pacific Highway in the state of Washington, and Washington is speeding to completion its section of the road up to the British Columbia line. In the province, plans are now being laid to give a finished highway from the international boundary to Vancouver, B.C., which will be the provincial extension of the Pacific Highway.
At the top of the Siskiyou Mountains, one of the oldest geological formations on the North American continent, the paved Pacific Highway of Oregon joins with the California section, which is paved only in places, but eventually will be hard-surfaced.
Thus, considered from end to end, the Pacific Highway affords the motorist an available thoroughfare from British Columbia on the north to Mexico on the south. Traversing three states, the Pacific Highway is the one road of continuous unbroken line which ties together the states bordering on the ocean. For this reason it possesses military possibilities as well as commercial. If a real military road is constructed, however, it will probably be located nearer the coastline and built in a manner calculated to withstand the transportation of navy guns.
When completed, the Pacific Highway in Oregon will represent an expenditure of $14,913,000. This sum will provide a finished, hard-surfaced road across the state, with no grade in excess of 5 percent, and that maximum rarely touched throughout the entire length.
Expenditures to November 1, 1921, under state supervision, amounted to $9,613,444.67. The estimated cost to complete the highway is $5,300,000.
Of the 345.6 miles, there are now completed, which means paved, 254 miles.
In addition there are 69.7 miles which have been surfaced with broken rock or gravel. About 11.6 miles more have been graded to the state standard.
Only ten miles of the highway remain to be graded to standard, and but 91.3 miles remain to be paved.
Because of its great area, there are 42,000 miles of road in Oregon, most of which consists of county roads. In the state highway system there are approximately 4300 miles. Since Oregon deals in large figures when talking road mileage, the 91.3 miles yet to be paved on the Pacific Highway sounds insignificant, whereas in many states, particularly in the East and in New England, a paved highway 91.3 miles in length would be considered a notable undertaking.
Cost of construction of the Pacific Highway has been shared by the state and the federal government. Here and there along its length there are sections on which the federal government cooperated, and there is a section which the forest bureau aided in financing, as the highway cuts through a part of a reserve in Southern Oregon.
The state's portion of money for highway construction does not come from a general tax, but is raised by capitalizing the motor vehicle licenses and by a small tax on gasoline and distillate. By this method the motor owners of the state pay for the roads, as they receive the direct benefits. Tourists entering the state contribute in a small way to the construction cost by paying the tax on the gasoline which they consume while within the boundaries, and the greater amount of fuel they use the more tax they pay.
Government aid has been provided from post road funds and forestry funds, the government money being matched dollar for dollar wherever it has been used by the state highway commission.
From end to end the Pacific Highway is of the highest type of road construction, having gentle grades, wide curvature, good width, with shoulders and drainage. The bridges on this road are among the finest to be found anywhere in the West, or in the entire country for that matter. These structures are of concrete and possess beautiful lines.
So far as is humanly possible, the state highway commission has made the Pacific Highway "foolproof." Railroad grade crossings have been eliminated with a single exception, and this exception will not obtain when the road is completed. The exception noted is at Oregon City.
For most of the distance the Pacific Highway follows, in a general way, the old wagon roads used by early settlers and the stage coaches. The main old road crossed and recrossed the tracks of the Southern Pacific, providing numerous death traps. By careful location, the engineers have placed the Pacific Highway so that these man-killer crossings no longer menace traffic. When the necessities commanded, the highway has been provided with either overhead or underground crossings, the cost of these substantial and permanent safeguards being shared by the state and the railroad company.
As a further precaution, the highway has been supplied with guard fences on curves and wherever the road is built on the side of steep mountains.
Two classes of pavement have been laid by the highway commission on this thoroughfare, the bitulithic and the concrete. Most of the pavement on the Pacific as well as on other primary highways in Oregon is of the bitulithic or "blacktop" type, as it is easily laid, does not tie up traffic long while being put in place, and is cheaper than the concrete. The high cost asked for concrete, until the past few months, compelled the highway commission to award contracts for the black pavement in preference to the white. Where concrete is used on the Pacific Highway it is seven inches in thickness, resting, of course, on a base.
It is over the Pacific Highway that most of the tourist travel will move for years to come, as the road gives easy access to Oregon for all tourists motoring in California. The road traverses valley after valley, the intervening ridges being crossed by means of natural passes. There is not the wild, rugged scenery on the Pacific such as is found on several other state highways, but branching from it is the road to Crater Lake and the road to the Oregon Caves. Scenery on the Pacific Highway is varied and abundant, but of a more soft and soothing variety than can be boasted of on several highways.
The Rogue River Valley, Umpqua Valley and the Willamette Valley are the most fertile in Oregon. These are the valleys which were found and settled by the pioneers and, consequently, they became the centers of population. Along the Pacific Highway there are progressive towns, each of which has provided an automobile park for motor tourists who desire to camp. Two or three of these camp grounds are the most complete to be found anywhere in America. Their patrons are many. It is the programme of the state highway commission to put under contract for 1922 all the unpaved sections of the highway. The 91 miles to be paved are not a continuous strip, but are located in various districts and are gaps in the present pavement. Within the past few weeks contracts have been awarded for some of this work, and plants will be on the job ready to lay pavement with the opening of road weather in spring. If the 1922 season is as favorable as that of 1921, the gaps will all be cleaned up before autumn; otherwise a few miles may be held over until the 1923 season.
Irrespective of the uncompleted sections, it is now possible to drive from the Siskiyous to the interstate bridge on pavement almost the entire distance by making use of the west side highway. With the close of the 1921 season detours are almost a thing of the past on the Pacific Highway, for which drivers rejoice.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 2, 1922, page D7
CRATER CLUB TO ERECT MARKERS
Markers, constructed of concrete and brick, approximately eleven feet high with a base six feet square, and with electric lights so placed as to illuminate the word "Medford," will soon grace the north and south entrances to the city on the Pacific Highway. The design for the markers was selected by a Crater Club committee, after careful study and consideration of similar monuments erected in other cities, and last evening the final arrangements were made for their erection by the Medford Concrete Construction Company.
Erection of the markers will mark the completion of a project which the local booster organization has long had under consideration and will help in the campaign of advertising the city which is now being carried out through the use of billboards in California and on the highway north of here. The markers will cost over one thousand dollars, and it is hoped by the Craters to raise a portion of the sum by staging a public frolic on April 1st.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 17, 1925, page 3 The markers are not known to have been built.
Explains Detour Plans.To the Editor:
For the benefit of those interested, and to allay further agitation concerning the detour while the Pacific Highway south of Medford is being resurfaced, I wish to give the following exact information.
Monday afternoon, March 25, at the meeting called at the Chamber of Commerce at Medford, a committee was appointed composed of "Bill" Gates, Mr. Strang and the writer to see "Pop" Gates and find out if it was possible to eliminate the detour, and what the extra cost would be.
This committee met with "Pop" Gates Tuesday morning and was informed by him that the widening and surfacing of this five and one-half miles of highway was a federal aid project, the federal government paying 60 percent and the state 40 percent, and that the regular percent of increase added to the contract price where the traffic had to be carried through while the work was in progress was 20 percent. C. A. Hartley's bid for this contract was $119,000; therefore, it would cost $22,000 additional to carry the traffic through, besides delaying the completion of the work.
After getting this information the committee dropped this question but proceeded to determine exactly how the work would be handled, and what road would be used for the detours. Mr. Hartley and Mr. Neef, the state engineer, had previously informed the writer that they would start at 12th Street and build south to Mr. Hartley's plant. Then start at the south end one and one-half miles south of Phoenix and build back and finish in front of Hartley's plant. This, no doubt, being the cheapest and best method for Mr. Hartley, but this method would add at least 30 days further loss of business to the business houses located south of Main Street on Riverside to Talent.
When this was shown to "Pop" Gates, he had Mr. Hartley come to his office and this was gone over and Mr. Hartley readily agreed to change his plans, and the following method will be used:
The work to start at 12th Street and build straight through to the south end of the job, when started at 12th Street the first detour will be at Voorhies crossing. When the work gets there the next detour will be at Phoenix, and when the work reaches that point the next detour will be on the Anderson road this side of Talent. Each point of detour to be immediately open back to the finished highway when the asphalt is laid to that point. All traffic on the detours will enter Oakdale Street from the Kings Highway, and down Main Street in Medford.
In agreeing to this change of methods, Mr. Hartley assumes added cost to himself, and the writer considers him very considerate to the interests on the affected highway, and all of such business places affected should cooperate with him to the fullest extent to push this work through to its completion.
Yours Very Truly,"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, April 5, 1930, page 4
J. H. MAASSEN.
Ex-Governor West Recalls M-T Sign Posting JourneyFinding of an old Medford Mail Tribune road sign near Bend, Ore., has recalled an incident in Jackson County history when road development was in its infancy in Oregon. George Putnam was editor of the Mail Tribune at the time, and Oswald West was Governor.
The Mail Tribune has previously published comments from the Bend Bulletin and George Putnam, the latter now editor of the Salem Capital Journal. Below is ex-Governor West's version of how the old sign came to be posted so far from Medford.
By Oswald WestWhen in Salem a few days ago I, as usual, called on my long-time friend, George Putnam, of the Capital Journal. While there, he handed me a clipping from the Bend Bulletin carrying a cut of an old Mail Tribune (adv.) road sign found near Chemult a short time ago by Chet Springer. It provided a good laugh, for it recalled an eventful and never-to-be-forgotten auto trip--Maryhill, Wash., to Medford, Ore.--taken by us in late September, 1913. (Judge TouVelle insists the year was 1911 and that he had not yet become county judge--Ed.) We traveled the north-south roadless route which Sam Hill prophesied would in time afford a fine improved highway open the year 'round to Oregon-California travel.
Putnam and I, at that time, were all out for highway improvements. As Governor, I had established convict construction camps at several points in the state. Although the men did good work, that policy invited much newspaper criticism. But it served a useful purpose, for a convict camp couldn't be mentioned without bringing to public attention the road work under construction.
Education of the public, however, was slow work. What we needed most was a "big shot" to carry the banner. So, we prayed for one, and God sent us Sam Hill, wealthy son-in-law of Jim Hill, the empire builder. At that time good old Sam held all the answers to highway problems.
Tales Over ClubInvited to Oregon, Hill all but took over the Arlington Club, where a number of wealthy and retired loggers and lumbermen were loafing and figuring what to do with their time and money. He took them in hand--wining and dining them--until, under his spell, they became good roads-minded. Then, we were on our way.
Judge F. L. TouVelle and his Jackson County court were proposing a $550,000 bond issue to provide funds to start the Pacific Highway over the Siskiyous and needed help. So Hill threw a party at his Maryhill, Wash., home. A delegation from Medford, headed by TouVelle and Putnam, attended--as did one from Portland. I was asked to join the party.
Good roads meetings were scheduled for Medford--Hill and I were to be the speakers. The caravan was made up of several cars. The late and beloved George Trowbridge, of the Oregon Journal, was a guest. Judge TouVelle, George Putnam and I rode in the latter's famous old four-cylinder Buick. We traveled south via Bend. The several cars, in time, became widely separated.
TouVelle and Putnam, bachelors and friendly enemies, made it a point never to agree on anything. Nothing could go wrong without each charging the other with being the cause.
La Pine ReachedAfter spending a night at some forgotten point along the route, we reached the road junction near La Pine. There, of course, were to be found no road signs. So TouVelle and Putnam got into a heated argument over which road should be taken. Well, we took the left-hand road and traveled two-thirds of the distance to Ft. Rock before learning we were on the wrong road. So, for hours, I had to listen to charges and countercharges as to who was responsible for the blunder.
In time we reached Crescent, where we were fortunate in finding some gasoline. But neither the judge nor the editor had the brains to think of oil. I knew a little about "hosses" but nothing about autos.
From there on the sand slowed us down and night found us among the pines on top of a mountain instead of at Ft. Klamath, our contemplated roosting place.
It was on this mountaintop that trouble really came. The old Buick quit on us. After going into a huddle the judge and the editor discovered that, while there was gas aplenty, there was no motor oil. They had forgotten to replenish our supply. So, while I built a fire to offset the "cool of the evening" I had to listen to charges and countercharges as to who was responsible for not attending to our needs in that direction.
Finds Axle GreaseIn looking through the junk in the back of the car I found a small carton of mica axle grease. I was brought up on mica axle grease--having used it to lubricate most everything but a political machine. So, in my ignorance of autos, I suggested that we might reduce it to a liquid state and feed it to the Buick. The two gents offering no objection, I dug it out of the carton and into a can which I set over the fire. Thus did I learn how difficult it was to liquefy mica axle grease. But in time I made it, and the "wise guys" poured the result into the old Buick. It, of course, at once congealed and left us worse off than before. There was nothing to do now but hoof it 13 miles to Ft. Klamath for a night's lodging and relief. This was the 22nd of September, our 16th wedding anniversary, and my wife at home was expecting a wire or telephone call.
The night was dark and the road rough; it was past midnight when we reached the lone hostelry at Ft. Klamath. All was in darkness. Pounding on the door, the "jedge" shouted: "Ho! ho! Landlord, there are distinguished travelers without who would find shelter for the night!" Soon there was the sound of footsteps descending a stairway. The door opened and there stood the landlord, clothed only in a union suit (which, apparently, was serving also as a sleeping garment), holding high a lantern and rubbing his eyes. Said the "jedge": "Meet the Governor of Oregon." Said the landlord (who had been school superintendent of an Eastern Oregon county): "'Tis sad to think of his excellency finding me 'en deshabille'."
HitchhikesFortunately I was able to grab a lift from a homeward-bound Medfordite. I will never forget that wild ride. While some distance out of Medford, we phoned to a mutual friend to dig up a "my size" suit of clothes, with accessories, and have them behind stage at the town hall. There I dressed and, at 8 p.m., joined Sam Hill and other dignitaries as they appeared on the speaker's platform.
Well, the mission bore fruit: The Jackson County bond issue carried, and the road work was undertaken. This led to a greater state interest and the creation of the 1916 highway commission.
So, let us not forget how greatly we are indebted, not only to Samuel Hill, but to Judge F. L. TouVelle, his county court, George Putnam and his Medford Mail Tribune, for the inauguration of our splendid state highway program.
It was on this eventful occasion that the Medford Mail Tribune metal advertising signs were posted.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 28, 1948, page 12
Two Big Highway Projects Now Getting Well Under Way in County
Medford-Ashland and Gold Hill Area Jobs Progressing
Completion Said Due Next Summer or Fall
Travelers of Highway 99 south of Medford to Ashland can expect to drive at construction speed for a good portion of the way until possibly next fall--depending on the weather--according to state highway officials.
The inconvenience of construction travel will be more than outweighed, however, at least to most valley residents, with the future prospect of a 48-foot--or four-lane--highway connecting the two cities.
This long-awaited development began this fall and is one of two main highway sections in the county currently under construction--the other being the highway straightening which bypasses Gold Hill on the south side of Rogue River.
Added to these two major projects was the completion of the new Dodge Bridge about a month ago by the state highway department on Highway 234, again connecting Gold Hill with the Crater Lake Highway.
The two highway projects are being handled under separate supervision, with the Medford-Ashland section under the Medford state highway department office and the Rock Point-Blackwell Hill section under the Grants Pass office.
The Medford-Ashland project was let in two sections to separate contractors, officials said, with T. W. Thomas, Portland, awarded the Medford-county farm section on August 28 of this year, and the Acme Construction Company of Eugene doing the county farm to Ashland section with a contract beginning date of November 3. A total of $893,000 is involved.
The contract prices for the Medford-county farm section was $515,000, with completion due by August 31, 1953, and the other section was let for $378,000, with completion due September 30, 1953. The exact completion date may be sooner, if weather conditions are favorable.
Three major changes were noted by officials on the project between Medford and Ashland, where the highway is primarily a widening project from the present two lanes to four on the old highway road base. One major change is the separation of traffic on a one-way basis at both entrances to Phoenix. All southbound traffic will be routed in two lanes through the city on the old highway, while the northbound traffic will travel a new two-lane road being built to the east of the city.
The other change, on the east side of the old Bear Creek channel, has necessitated a channel change for the creek, with the new highway blocking the old channel in two places. Excavation of an entirely new channel for the creek is being currently carried out 300 feet to the east of the old one. The new channel will be 50 feet wide and about 1,800 feet long. Culverts have been placed under the new highway crossings of the old channel to take care of drainage collected by the old channel.
Another Bear Creek channel will be necessary in the project, officials reported, and will occur between two bridges on the county farm-Ashland portion, near Jackson Hot Springs. The creek will be rerouted so that it stays on the northeast side of the highway, running parallel to the highway for 2,200 feet, from the bridge near the hot springs to the next bridge toward Talent, where the old Chateau formerly stood.
Other minor ditch changes are in progress just south of Medford, with the moving eastward of the irrigation ditch near the Jackson County fairgrounds, and another ditch movement just north of Phoenix.
One phase of the highway widening that is taking considerable time is the relocation of both telephone and electricity poles along the right-of-way, engineers pointed out. Work on widening the road base to accommodate four lanes is necessarily held up until the way is cleared of both ditches and poles, they pointed out. Paving will be of the asphalt-concrete type.
In another phase of the construction, rock is now being crushed for the first unit of the paving project by the J. C. Compton firm, McMinnville, on a gravel bar behind the Starlite Drive-In Theater on Bear Creek.
As Far as Hill
The Medford-Ashland section will continue from the Medford city limits to the three-lane section on Billings Hill, just north of the railroad underpass at Ashland. The three-lane section will be maintained for the present time in the Ashland approach, officials said.
The other Jackson County highway project is on a section 4.68 miles long, beginning at the Rock Point Bridge, west of Gold Hill, and along the south side of Rogue River, meeting Highway 99 at the former location of the Davis cafe at the base of Blackwell Hill. The new highway crosses the old one at a distance of 1.6 highway miles east of Gold Hill.
Except for three traffic interchanges, the highway will be two lanes constructed on a right of way that can accommodate four lanes in the future, according to Grants Pass officials. Four lanes will be provided at the three traffic interchanges, which will be located at Rock Point, the Dardanelles and the base of Blackwell Hill. The latter will be of a temporary nature, as a new road will be constructed over Blackwell Hill sometime in the future.
The road, which is on the opposite side of the river from Gold Hill, and the traffic interchanges, are being handled in separate contracts, according to engineers. Ausland and Dodson, Grants Pass, are building the traffic interchange structures, while the Central Heating Company of Oregon, Ltd., and F. L. Sommers of Eugene and Klamath Falls are building the road.
The road grading and surfacing contract was let on August 11, and the interchange structures around November 1 of this year. Completion date for the projects is September 30, 1953, but with favorable weather conditions the engineers hope the project will be completed two or three months before this date.
Only One Crossing
The only road crossing will be at the Dardanelles, where the county road will overpass the new highway, engineers continued. This particular area also involves two irrigation ditch moving projects, one 200 feet long and the other 500 feet.
With access to the highway limited to the three interchanges, it is necessary to construct service roads on each side of the new highway between Rock Point and the Dardanelles, they added. The Old Stage Road will be used where it is not a part of the new highway.
Asphalt-concrete paving will be used in the new section, with service roads of the oil-macadam type.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 7, 1952, page C1
Highway Over Siskiyous Oldest Route in County;(Editor's Note: This is another in a series of feature articles dealing with the change in intercity travel conditions in Jackson County and Southern Oregon during the lifetime of many persons now living in this area.)
Tolls Charged Many Years
Numerous Troubles Encountered During 1913 Construction
Old Stage Trips To South Recalled
By HARRY NORDWICK"That'll be $1.25 please. Hope you find the road good over the summit."
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
That's exactly what would have happened to you if you drove your buggy over the Siskiyou summit after 1859 and up to about 1913. It seems hardly possible that the old roads were financed in such a way with the current more indirect methods now in use. But it worked and was one way, at least according to records, to keep roads in fair shape and still make some money for the person that "owned the road."
It seems hardly possible in a time of great public road projects that private persons controlled the roads on an original "pay as you go" basis. According to Jacksonville Museum records of the Siskiyou Wagon Road Company, the road was first opened for toll charges on Aug. 28, 1859, and two horsemen were the first customers at 25 cents each. The Lindsay Applegate family operated the road after moving from the Umpqua to the toll house near the present railroad location of Steinman.
Business Not Bad
Business wasn't half bad. Everybody paid, evidently based on some index of road wear and tear. Prices started with 25 cents for a horseman to a drove of 700 sheep for $20. The most consistent revenue was the stage company, which paid a monthly rate, averaging about $80. At the end of the Civil War, this was just about the only revenue during the bad winter months. However, a year's total for 1864 was $3,738--a tidy sum in those times.
Road maintenance was extremely hard work in those days. The Applegate cash journal and "Diary of the Weather," which is being presented by Mrs. Myrtle Lee at the museum, reports that during the particularly stormy winter of 1871 the drifts were quite deep. On Feb. 21, 1871, the diary stated that the company "broak (broke) snow all day with three men and two yoak (yoke) of oxen pulled the stage to the summit." They also reported "blasting" rocks out "of the canyon" on numerous occasions. The road in use at this time was evidently not the first road in entirety, as a diary entry of Dec. 28, 1868 reports of a trip to the summit of the mountain on "the old (1848) road" on which they "got two deer killed there yesterday by Frank French."
Lindsay and Jesse Applegate made their first trip from Yoncalla in a party of 15 men over the Siskiyous (Boundary Mountains) into Mexican territory about 1846, according to a short essay by Frank L. Applegate, prior to the above-mentioned road. A path very near to the toll road was evidently used by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841. A group led by Lt. Emmons passed over the Boundary Range into Mexican territory and passed by Pilot Rock. Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., who recorded the adventure of the Naval expedition [Wilkes was not on the overland expedition], said that in places the group traversed ". . . a steep and narrow path, where a single horse has barely room to pass." Indians impeded their progress, he related, with the burning of trees to fall across the path "and many other impediments placed to prevent the party from advancing."
Sold Road in 1871
Such were the hazards of early travel over the Siskiyous. The Applegates sold the toll road privileges to James Thornton in 1871, and Thornton in turn sold to the third and final owners, the Dollarhide family.
A well-known native of the Ashland community, Clarence E. Lane, remembers many trips over the mountains. He related that in the early days the road "was traveled quite a bit. The Ashland band and ballplayers would often go over the mountains to Yreka."
He remembers the old stage route, which went from Ashland, with as many as six stages leaving in one morning. First stop was either Casey's or Barron's, he related. They would then climb a small hill over to Wagner Soda Springs, where the road forked for the Greensprings route to Linkville (Klamath Falls) or over the Siskiyous. "Depending on the weather, the stages would then leave the station. If it was snowing, sleds would be used from this point," he continued.
The Siskiyou stage road would then wind up to a point beyond the present Steinman on the railroad right of way, where the toll gate was located. According to the Applegate toll book and diary, various travelers would spend the night at the toll house. The road then wound up to the summit, where the stages would meet in a widened area just this side of Cole's, the next stage stop, Lane said.
It was a long time before the road was improved for all-weather travel. A "better roads" movement, in which Jackson County was the premier county of Oregon saw action by 1913. Judge Frank L. TouVelle, Jacksonville, who was county judge at the time, recalls purchasing the toll road rights for the county from the Dollarhides for $1,600. TouVelle said that the dirt stage road was followed closely on the new grading project, as "there wasn't enough money to buy new right of ways."
Didn't Come Easy
Although part of a historic link of Pacific Coast states, the new road didn't come easily, as attested to by articles in the Mail Tribune during the period.
An Oct. 16, 1913 article reported that the only thing holding back the advertising for bids was securing rights of way "for the new road over the Siskiyous" and "for alterations along the present road, such as eliminations of sharp turns and the deeding of needed strips for a uniform width of 60 feet. . . ." Further, "In many places the present road is but 40 or 50 feet wide."
On Nov. 20, the firm of H. A. Keasel and W. M. McDowell of a logging firm at Tacoma, Wash., was awarded the grading contract for $107,534.30--the lowest of nine bids. The award was the basis for elaborate plans by a committee headed by Benjamin Sheldon for the digging of the first shovelful of dirt of the new road. Accepting an invitation on the occasion was Samuel Hill of Seattle, called by the Mail Tribune the "most prominent good roads enthusiast of the Northwest."
The M-T edition of Nov. 28, 1913 had this to say of the occasion: "In the presence of Gov. Oswald West and the state highway commission and a hundred prominent citizens of Jackson County, the first shovelful of earth in the construction of the Pacific Highway in Oregon was turned this afternoon by Samuel Hill, father of the good roads movement in the Northwest."
The next day's edition predicted that ". . . the highway will be one of the scenic boulevards of the world." In speaking to the guests, Hill said that ". . .Today marks the beginning of permanent highway construction in the state. Jackson County points the way and leads Oregon, and its example will be followed by all."
The occasion of the groundbreaking ceremonies was at a point near Kingsbury's Springs, near the present Emigrant Lake. State officials attending the ceremony included West, State Engineer H. L. Bowlby, B. K. Lawson, superintendent of the state penitentiary; and Resident Engineer F. A. Kittridge.
In other speeches, West spoke out against the "dastardly attempts to get Bowlby and TouVelle by disgruntled contractors," according to the M-T. The statement was indicative of the trouble in bid choice which led to an investigation by the grand jury.
Present at the ceremony in "the Medford party," were those mentioned and, according to the M-T, "Mr. J. S. Howard, father of Medford and the original good roads enthusiast of Jackson County shared honors with Gov. West and Supt. Lawson. Others were Judge William Colvig, who represented the county court and also spoke; Judge TouVelle, County Commissioner William Leever, Robert Ruhl, Sen. H. von der Hellen, J. A. Westerlund, Dr. J. M. Keene, W. H. Gore, W. I. Vawter, Dr. E. B. Pickel, George E. Boos, Benjamin Sheldon, Alfred S. Carpenter, Stewart Patterson, W. H. Canon, Porter J. Neff, H. A. Keasel, W. M. McDowell, J. T. Summerville, Charles B. Gay, C. Y. Tengwald, G. A. Gardner, J. R. Woodford, A. S. Rosenbaum, H. C. Garnett, M. Purdin, William Gerig, George Putnam, J. O. Gerking, Perry Ashcraft. "Machines" contributed to transport the group to the location were furnished by Charles Gates, Ashcraft, Leever, Westerlund, TouVelle and Sheldon.
However, the ceremony didn't exactly mean that the road was on its way. For one thing, Keasel and McDowell were in financial trouble, and Bowlby refused to okay some subcontractors they offered in their place. On Jan. 21, 1914, the M-T reported that work will not begin until the weather settles, though much equipment is on the ground."
On Jan. 30, the contract was transferred over to J. W. Sweeney of Portland, whose bid ranked next to Keasel and McDowell at the same price as the latter. At this time, the only work done on the grade was clearing and brushing by a small force under Chris Natwick, "but a large force will be rushed to comply with the contract, which must be completed this summer." In November, Lawson had made a survey to house a convict camp of about 100 men to cut about a mile of heavy rock not under contract. However, Kittredge, the resident engineer, reported on Jan. 21 that plans for the Siskiyou camp for convicts and at Gold Ray quarry were abandoned "on account of the large number of unemployed in the county."
Originally the road was to be 24 feet wide, with 16 feet of hard-surfaced road, and a maximum grade of 6 percent. However, on Feb. 11, the county court decided, along with the highway engineer, to pave only 8 feet in width over the Siskiyous with 8 feet graded on each side, according to the M-T. "This will cut down the cost and leave money enough to complete the grade through the county," the article added.
Contractor Sweeney located his first camp at Steinman, with later ones at Siskiyou and also near Cole's or at Colestin where the heavy rockwork is on the other side of the divide.
Judge TouVelle accomplished one of his campaign promises with the depositing of cash from most of the $500,000 bond issue in Jackson County banks. That was the recognizing of county warrants at par value.
A grand jury investigation was held on the contracting matter, but the evidence against the Portland contractors was not sufficient for indictment. Certain "highly scandalous unsigned letters" were referred to by the jury in regard to alleged attempts by the contractors to discredit TouVelle and Bowlby, according to the M-T.
After the paving, the 8-foot stretch was not widened to 16 feet until 1920, according to County Engineer Paul Rynning.
Siskiyou County Work
At the same time Jackson County was paving its stretch, Siskiyou County in California was working on its part of the Pacific Highway. The new road was the turning point in the history of two Siskiyou County towns, as Yreka outbid Montague for the highway site. The old road passed through Montague in what was called a "disgraceful stretch of mire." The Siskiyou line met the Jackson County road a mile north of Cole on the mountaintop.
Grants Pass in Josephine County was not interested in the Pacific Highway at this time, and Hill proposed that the county send its 1915 tourists to Crater Lake and thence through Central Oregon over "good natural roads to Biggs. . . . " Hill suggested this route, as the Willamette Valley area had also "refused to cooperate" in his Pacific Highway plan. Grants Passers were even wooed by a "Lt. Marshall," who was really an escaped convict, who offered to re-route the highway via the Applegate and leave Medford off the line. Fortunately, he was discovered as an impostor.
In the fall of 1933, what had been considered "modern" in 1913 was again out of date, and work began on the first unit of a new route that was above and to the west of the 1913 road. On Dec. 14, the M-T reported construction under way on the first unit by William von der Hellen and Pierson from Neil Creek to Wall Creek.
This entirely new road was a considerably different one from the old type, "which followed the line of least resistance," according to von der Hellen. He related that hard workers and new equipment were able to cope with the building. He termed some of the new roadbed as through "tombstone granite." He completed about five miles of the present road, with the remainder done in units. The road was completed to the state line in about four years, he added.
This road is still modern and was actually one of the first attempts to straighten the Pacific Highway in Oregon. This project was continuing in Jackson County last summer, with the next county stretch to be from Blackwell Hill to Central Point.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1953, page 14
Coast Highway Ground Broken 50 Years Ago
By EVA HAMILTON
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Fifty years ago Thursday, ground was broken for Oregon's Pacific Highway, starting highway construction in this state, which has gained steady momentum since that date. It happened in Jackson County under what the press described that day as "most auspicious circumstances."
Jackson County people had approved a $500,000 bond issue to finance highway construction, taking advantage of the 1910 amendment to the state constitution which permitted counties to create indebtedness for road building purposes.
Contract for grading the new road over the Siskiyous had been let during the preceding week for $107,534.
Last Friday, 50 years later, another contract was let for highway construction in the Siskiyous. It demonstrates how times have changed, pricewise. The Slate-Hall Construction Co., Portland, was low bidder with a bid for $3,512,034 on the Interstate 5 section from the Siskiyou Highway south 2.29 miles to the summit. The bids were opened by the State Highway Department in Salem.
In 1913, Jackson County was the first county in Oregon to take advantage of the opportunity opened up for road construction. Much was made of this fact at the groundbreaking ceremonies held near Kingsbury Springs at the foot of the new Siskiyou grade that wintry day in November
Much also was made of an apparent state controversy which had centered in Jackson County with the late Judge Frank L. TouVelle as recipient of the major barbs.
Oregon Gov. Oswald West was speaker of the day. He called "a spade a spade" in a manner seldom heard, and less frequently published today.
Front-page headlines in the Mail Tribune of Nov. 29, 1913, reporting the event, read: "West Scalds Bowlby-TouVelle Foes."
GroundbreakingThe groundbreaking was attended by a crowd of 700 persons, and the Governor's speech was described by the reporter as the "sensation of the day." It charged "disgruntled contractors" with attempts "to get County Judge TouVelle" through false entries in their books to make it appear that he had used his position to secure automobile tires "for his own use at greatly reduced prices."
"We know at Salem of these dastardly attempts against the reputation of your public official," Gov. West declared, "and I want to say now and here that I shall make it my business to see that the affair shall be brought before the proper authorities for rigid investigation.
"We have known of the attitude of those crooks for over a year," the Governor was quoted. "As soon as it was known that Oregon was to have a state highway commissioner, they tried to dictate his appointment, and they got just the man they did not want. Then they tried to get to him. It didn't take them long to learn that [that] was a vain effort, and now they are trying to get him and the county officials when they find them determined that the people shall get a dollar's value in public work for every dollar spent."
Highway EngineerThis report gives the definite impression that Major H. L. Bowlby was state highway commissioner, but [a] glimpse into history reveals that the highway commission was not created until 1917, and later in the newspaper report Major Bowlby is identified as "highway engineer." This was undoubtedly his position on Nov. 28, 1913.
Samuel Hill of Maryhill, Wash. was honor[ed] guest of the day in recognition of his years of "energetic efforts in behalf of good roads and the example set in building miles of model paved highways traversing his 7,000-acre estate overlooking the Columbia."
"Jackson County points the way and leads Oregon," Hill declared in response to the plaudits handed him. "Its example will be rapidly followed by all," he concluded.
B. K. Lawson, superintendent of the state penitentiary, attended the groundbreaking, having come south to make arrangements for the convict labor camp. The camp was to provide for 100 convicts who carried out the heavy work on the Siskiyou grade, which was not included in the contract.
County Road BuildingPrior to that time, the few citizens left to remember recall that road building in Jackson County had amounted for the most part to hauling an occasional load of gravel to fill up the mud holes. This was frequently done by persons wishing to work out their poll taxes, which were then in effect. [This description of county road building became obsolete with the coming of the Orchard Boom. Poll taxes had been made unconstitutional in Oregon in 1910.]
Those were exciting days, however, in more areas than road expansion in Jackson County, a perusal of the same newspaper reveals. It was the period in which Medford was in the regular itinerary of the best road shows that toured the nation. The coming of the famous Anna Held was announced for Dec. 4 at the Page Theater on East Main Street at Bear Creek bridge, the theater which was gutted by fire Dec. 30, 1923.
Many of the stars and leaders of the period are unknown to present-day citizens. But not the late Judge TouVelle, who gave Oregon its TouVelle State Park at Bybee bridge. His name is known to many thousands who enjoy his gift summer after summer.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 1, 1963, page B8
Last revised May 29, 2019