Sixty-nine years after it happened, Marjorie H. Gardner described a road trip in 1922 from Eugene, Oregon, to San Francisco, California. Her family drove a Willys-Overland automobile and a Hupmobile, open touring cars with imitation leather seats and flapping side curtains. Still under construction, Highway 99’s detours went through farm yards and badlands and over corduroy roads, wagon ruts and Indian trails.
“Back then, if you were in a car, delay was the name of the game,” Gardner wrote. Horse teams towed Model As up the steep Wolf Creek Pass south of Roseburg. Ferries crossed rivers. Women dressed in special outfits of khaki-colored, high-necked, long-sleeved shirts, calf-length skirts and matching hats.
Lacking eateries and motels, the family carried food in three grocery boxes, cooking everything from meat loaf to fried chicken. Gardner said the lack of refrigeration “should have landed us in the nearest hospital.” A few auto camps featured outhouses, but Gardner observed, “Get within 20 feet and we took to the woods.”
It was a six-day trip of restless nights and days of rain, mud and dust. The next year, it took four days upon completion of the highway. It’s a one-day drive on today’s multiple-lane freeways.
Source: Gardner, Marjorie H. "Oregon Trail - 1920s Style." Vol. II. Little Known Tales from Oregon History No. 34: A Collection of Stories from Cascades East Magazine. Ed. Geoff Hill. Bend, Ore.: Sun Publishing, 1991. Print.
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