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1913 Road Trip From Red Oak to Ogden, Utah


Posted By: Sara Stevens Patton (email)
Date: 2/29/2024 at 15:14:48

Transcribed by Sara Stevens Patton Note: The existing newspaper article is in very poor condition and there are areas of torn pages and holes in the paper resulting in illegible or missing words. They are marked by ?

The trip from Red Oak, IA to Ogden, UT, involved 6 people: Harry and Bonnie (Watkins) Stevens and their 2 daughters, 3yr old Loie & 4 yr Marjorie, and Bonnie's parents, Randolph and Tillie (Kerrihard) Watkins (both in their late 60s.) They were going to visit the Watkins eldest daughter, Anna Watkins Lloyd and her husband, William Lloyd. The Lloyds were former Red Oak residents. The group traveled the 1000+ miles in an open topped Auburn automobile, with few gas stations, car repair shops, hotels or motels, and mostly dirt roads.

The Red Oak Sun, Friday, July 11, 1913, p.10

Red Oak Man Tells of Automobile Trip to Ogden, Utah, by Scenic Route — A Total of 1096 Miles.

Ogden, Utah, June 28 — Having promised to drop you a few lines about our trip, I will keep my word. The first day’s trip developed no new landscape, except slightly rolling prairie, in an advanced stage of cultivation. Crops were retarded same as at home. Over the roads we traveled Nebraska is making greater advance in construction than Iowa. Yet they have, I think, better soil with which to work, thus given better results.

We reached Central City, Neb., early the first day’s travel, and as prearranged I met the president of the Nebraska division of the Transcontinental Good Road association, Mr. Glattfeller. He is a live wire and under him are many more. With such men to push the work Nebraska will keep at the head with good roads.

Our (several illegible words) many newly worked roads, which in time will be fine. We found everybody we met to be very friendly and more than willing to direct us by the shortest or best route. One and all seemed to be striving for the official route.

Toward evening we came into the foot hills or sand hills; even here traveling was fine, only more winding. A storm was brewing, so we commenced to push more rapidly. We were caught a few miles east of North Platte and had to put up at a farm house. We found them to be most courteous people, glad to give shelter to travelers. Although a family of nine they gladly made room for six more. Near the southeast corner of the farm was the place where “Buffalo Bill” killed his first Indian, and half a mile from there was a national cemetery in charge of old soldiers, where have been buried 830 soldiers killed in frontier warfare or met death from exposure. Travelers are always welcome and “Old Glory” is found ever floating from the top of the flag pole.

The third day’s journey was a hard one for the driver. On account of the very heavy rain we did not start out until 11:30 a.m. and then with all chains on. Progress was slow, but our faithful car carried us through miles of mud, which made bigger and many lighter cars turn back. But by keeping at it we reached Ogalalla, Neb, our shortest and hardest day’s run.

Our fourth day’s run took us to Cheyenne, Wyo., where we decided to take a rest, and so we put in one-half of Sunday resting. We were about as dirty a looking set of tourists as one sees, and so we felt, too. Cheyenne was making gay over the Frontier Day circus, whose home is in Cheyenne, and that day was the beginning of the circus career. All there is to Cheyenne is the cattle interests.

Our fifth day’s trip was one to remember, as on this, we crossed the great continental divide. The Sherman pass is reached at an altitude of 8010 feet above sea level, and here is where the power of one’s car is brought out.

We ate our dinner at the foot of the Ames monument, erected to Oakes and Oliver Ames, to whom great credit was due for the completion of the Union Pacific railroad. It is made of red granite and stands 65 feet high on the top of a high summit or hill. From here, with the aid of our field glasses, we could see Pike’s Peak. Snow covered mountains were plainty [plainly] to be seen in every direction yet the sun was too warm for comfort. Thousands of sheep grazed on the mountain sides, for here is a great wool center. The roads were such as to require caution, very steep grades, sharp corners and high centers, yet we met with no mishap. Upon reaching Laramie, Wyo., we traveled by way of Elk Mountain, a new cut off. While it saves 30 miles, yet the rocks cut off the life of tires. Yet we have no cause to regret our decision, as we had the pleasure of stopping at the famous resort.

Elk Mountain is an inland town on the Medicine Bow river, famed for its wonderful hunting and fishing; also the material for Owen Wister’s famous “Virginian” was obtained here. And as one beholds the grandeur of country here to be seen he more than ever feels the warm pulsation that makes the book so popular. Here we overtook parties like ourselves on a transcontinental trip. Thus our fifth night’s stop was made in the most pleasant surroundings of any we were to have. The rushing waters of the Medicine Bow river were sweet music to our tired nerves, and from our bed-room window one could cast for the mountain trout so famed for its gameness and toothsome flavor.

An early start Monday gave us the refreshed strength with which to master the laborious task of driving an auto over winding, steep and narrow mountain roads. Many beautiful valleys would burst out upon our vision; here would be found green pastures dotted with great trees, tiny mountain streams would rush across our path, harnessed here and there to produce acres of feed for the stock that grazed peacefully in the abundant pastures. We again come to the railroad at Fort Steele. From here the roads were fine to a few miles west of Rawlins. Until we reached Wamsutter we found the roads fairly well marked, but from there on we struck a new state road, not yet marked or mapped. Here we came out on the Red desert proper and just about 35 miles out of Wamsutter we had a new experience, a sand storm on a desert, an experience we do not care for again, but fortune led us out of it safe. Without more adventure we finally arrived at Point of Rocks. Here we decided to spend the night on account of threatening weather. Our accommodations here were the poorest of any we had, but beggars should not be choosers.

An early start from Point of Rock’s we found roads in very good condition until about five miles west of Green River. From that on we run (sic) over the worst roads of our entire trip. Just east of Granger we felt the earth drop from under us, and if ever one had use for a cool head we did several times. They call them gullies, but to us they seemed like canyons, about 30 to 50 feet deep and having grades of from 28 to 40 per cent. Say! One second the car stands on the front end and with a sudden drop, then a tremble, it shoots up the other side. Right here is where I was glad of our ample power, for judging from the tracks other tourists were not so fortunate as we. It may not sound bad, but let me tell you when the hood of an auto stands above your head while you are seated in the car, and you know that if your engine fails you are sure going to get a drop, it makes one think and do it fast. But “Old Scout,” as we have named our car, proved true. Reaching Granger we with pleasure found a new bridge across a river we had been warned of. From here on we followed the new state road across the last part of the desert. Lyman, a new town, is surrounded by as pretty a farming land as we had seen since leaving Iowa. Situated on a high plateau it is yet in a high state of cultivation owing to the irrigation ditches which carries the water from the Wasatch mountains.

When within about 26 miles of Evanston we ran into another rain quite unexpectedly and it very nearly caused us grief. Again the good material in the “Old Scout” saved the day. Coming around a sharp curve we were confronted by a very steep grade with a sharp curve, half way down, upon which a rain had lately fallen. Brakes without chain meant disaster, so with speed reduced as much as possible we hit the bridge at the bottom with a thump that threw us all up into the top, with no pleasant results. Not caring to take any more chances I went in low and scrambled for the top. Upon getting there we put on chains then we took another drop of several hundred feet. We then commenced the last high climb into Evanston. The road newly worked and soaked with rain was very slippery, and in many places a slip might mean an accident, but after the first few steep grades had been made we run (sic) into rain; here we put up our side curtains, and from that on into Evanston we traveled on second speed. Stopping at Evanston Tuesday night we found they were out of gas and none to be had anywhere. Here, too, we were for the first time held up. Hotel Evanston has that name, we found out afterwards.

With an extra early start Wednesday morning we pushed on for the last leg of our trip. Upon leaving Evanston we ran into a cloud which was so dense we could not see the road, and thus we lost the road. We soon found it and retraced our tracks to Wasatch only to learn that a bridge had burned out and we had a river to ford. Several others had stalled there, but being warned we used snow fence boards and corduroyed the stream, thus we passed over without mishap, only the loss of two hours time. We soon were to be repaid for any hardship one may have had, for the Weber canyon and Echo canyon are famed for their natural grandeur and picturesquely formed rocks with their many colored cliffs. These views as one sees them from a train are nothing to what they are when one has the fortune to see them from an auto.

Words could not tell of all we saw in the true beauty of Nature’s art. So with a list of the few more widely known points of interest, Castle Rock, Devil’s slide, Devil’s Gateway, Pulpit Rock, Echo Canyon, Table Rock, etc., I will close with these few lines: We traveled 1,096.08 miles, and when we reached our journey’s end every one of us felt fine. None felt any effect of a long, tiresome trip, the children as lively as ever and all ready to ride more. Since arriving here it has rained every day, giving them more rain than ever before in the month of June. Harry E. Stevens


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