Riding the Rails During the Great Depression

Well, I’ve been waiting for a notification from WordPress that I’ve reached my one year anniversary blogging. Oops! It never arrived. I knew it was January but didn’t remember the date. So, silly me, I went and looked and I missed it! But that’s okay. I thought what I would do is repost my very first ever blog entry. When I first started my blog, I was just going write about my family history. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the information I had was not much at all! So, I decided to branch out and started adding bits of life in general. As many things often do, I find it is branching again as I have now added my new hobby of photography. Enjoy!

LIVING WITH MY ANCESTORS

In 1931, at the age of 20, my Dad and 7 of his friends left their homes in Kentucky and headed West on the rails during the Great Depression. Dad kept a little diary of the trip in a small notebook written in pencil.

Following are a few excerpts from his travel diary (written in blue italics) with some of my own comments inserted in regular text:

The date is Wednesday, April 22, 1931.  It’s raining and snowing.  I have a one-way ticket to Portland, Ore. We catch train No. 1 bound for Cincinnati and bid Ashland goodbye at 8:55 a.m. There are eight of us. All nice fellows to be sure. Their names are Charles E. Ball, Bennet Tussey, Sam Elsworth and myself of Ashland. Paul A. Vaughan of Ironton, O. Charles R. “Buzz” Waldron of Russell, Ky. Kenneth Ames of Catlettsburg, Ky. And Louis E. Hannon of Maysville…

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Finale – Yellowstone National Park 1931-32

If you’re just joining us here, please feel free to visit the previous posts leading up to this finale. For the beginning of the story, click here to open Riding the Rails During the Great Depression, click here  to open Dad’s Tour of the West Coast During the Great Depression, click here to open Yellowstone National Park 1931-32, and click here to open Yellowstone National Park 1931-32 Continued. Each link will open in a new tab.

The cards were made by Haynes Picture Shops, Inc., 341 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Minn. and Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.

Click on each Today for additional information. Please enjoy the cards!

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Bears of Yellowstone Park depend largely upon the hotels and lodges for sustenance during the summer season. Although bears boldly invade civilized areas to procure their food, they are far from tame. They should not be fed “by hand”, nor should they be molested.

Today: Bears may be seen in Yellowstone March through November. Yellowstone is one of the only areas south of Canada that still has large grizzly bear populations. In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Greater Yellowstone Area grizzly bear population segment had recovered sufficient numbers and distribution to be removed from the threatened-species list. In 2009, the delisting ruling was overturned and the population was returned to the threatened-species list; management continues under the 2006 revision of the recovery plan. Grizzly bears are usually seen in the open areas. Look for black bears along the edges of trees in the Lamar and Hayden valleys, or among the trees near Mammoth and Tower.

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Elk Stalled in Snow, Hayden Valley, Yellowstone Park. The latest official estimate of the number of elk, (Wapiti), in the park is given at nearly 20,000. Elk are seen throughout the park at all seasons.

Today: National attention has been focused on Yellowstone’s northern elk winter range since the early 1930s. Scientists and managers then believed that grazing and drought in the early part of the century had reduced the range’s carrying capacity, and that twice as many elk were on the range in 1932 as existed in 1914. From 1935 to 1968, elk, pronghorn, and bison numbers were artificially controlled by shooting or trapping and removal by park rangers. Then in the 1960s, based on new studies that suggested ungulate populations could possibly be self-regulating, elk reductions were discontinued in the park. The belief that elk grazing was damaging to northern range vegetation and that grazing accelerates erosion, although not supported by research data and analysis, has continued to the present. Studies of the northern elk winter range began in the 1960s and revealed no clear evidence of range overuse (Houston 1982). More recent studies conclude that sagebrush grasslands of Yellowstone’s northern winter range are not overgrazed (Singer and Bishop 1990). In fact, plant production was enhanced by ungulate grazing in all but drought years. Protein content of grasses, yearly growth of big sagebrush, and seedling establishment of sagebrush were all enhanced by ungulate grazing. Neither reduction in root biomass nor an increase in dead bunchgrass clumps was observed. However, many questions remain concerning the condition of riparian zones and associated shrubby vegetation; the park hopes to conduct additional studies on aspen and willows and their relationship to ungulates on the northern range.

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Obsidian Cliff, Yellowstone Park, is on the Mammoth-Norris road, 12.3 miles from Mammoth Hot Springs. This volcanic glass brought Indians to the region in the early days for arrowhead material as the pipestone country of Minnesota attracted Indians to its quarries.

TodayObsidian Cliff, 11 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs, is at the northern end of Beaver Lake in Yellowstone National Park. The cliff forms the eastern wall of a narrow cut in plateau country. At an elevation of nearly 7,400 feet above sea level, the cliff extends for a half mile, rising from 150 to 200 feet above Obsidian Creek and falling gradually away to the north. The upper half is a vertical face of rock; the lower half is composed of loose and broken rocks forming a talus slope. The cliff is the remainder of a flow of lava that erupted onto the earth’s surface and then poured down the plateau.

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Mount Sheridan, elevation 10,250 feet, overlooks Yellowstone Lake which is the largest lake at its elevation, 7,730 feet, on the North American continent. It has a shoreline one hundred miles long.

Today: With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest lake at high elevation (i.e., more than 7,000 ft.) in North America. It is a natural lake, situated at 7,733 ft. above sea level. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. It is frozen nearly half the year. It freezes in late December or early January and thaws in late May or early June.

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Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Park, as depicted in this picture is one of the typical mid-day eruptions when there is sufficient breeze to waft away from the 150-ft. water column its envelope of steam. These displays occur summer and winter at intervals varying from 65 to 80 minutes.

Today: Old Faithful erupts more frequently than any of the other big geysers, although it is not the largest or most regular geyser in the park. Its average interval between eruptions varies from 60 – 110 minutes. An eruption lasts 1 1/2 to 5 minutes, expels 3,700 – 8,400 gallons (14,000 – 32,000 liters) of boiling water, and reaches heights of 106 – 184 feet (30 – 55m). It was named for its consistent performance by members of the Washburn Expedition in 1870. Although its average interval has lengthened through the years (due to earthquakes and vandalism), Old Faithful is still as spectacular and predictable as it was a century ago.

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(Another view) Old Faithful Geyser, 150 Ft., Yellowstone Park, is not the highest geyser, but it is by far the favorite one. Its eruptions occurring every hour last about four minutes.

TodaySoon, a towering column of water will surge out of the earth as Old Faithful continues its unbroken series of eruptions. Eruptions occur an average of 17 times per day, every day. Because of changes in circulation that resulted from the 1959 Hebgen Lake and 1983 Borah Peak earthquakes, as well as other local and smaller earthquakes, the average interval between eruptions has been lengthening during the last several decades. In the past, Old Faithful displayed two eruptive modes: short duration eruptions followed by a short interval, and a long duration eruption followed by a long interval. However, after a local earthquake in 1998, Old Faithful’s eruptions are more often of the long duration, long interval type.

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Kepler Cascade, Firehole River, Yellowstone Park, is seen shortly after leaving Old Faithful. It is 1.7 miles from Old Faithful, where platforms have been constructed to the edge of the canyon.

Today: This three-tiered cascade drops over 50 feet as the Firehole River flows North. The Kepler Cascades were actually named in 1881 for the 12 year old son of Wyoming’s territorial governor, Kepler Hoyt, who toured the park with his father, Governor John Hoyt.

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Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park, is most remarkable. Some of its waters deposit brightly colored arsenic minerals — orpiment and realgar, others yellow sulphur and black sulphur globules. Its steam vents are the hottest in the entire region.

Today: Norris Geyser Basin is one of the hottest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal areas. Many hot springs and fumaroles have temperatures above the boiling point (200°F) here. Water fluctuations and seismic activity often change features.
It’s hard to imagine a setting more volatile than Norris. It is part of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes. And it sits on the intersection of three major faults. One runs from the north; another runs from the west. These two faults intersect with a ring fracture from the Yellowstone Caldera eruption 640,000 years ago. These conditions helped to create this dynamic geyser basin.

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Excelsior Geyser, Yellowstone Park, was at one time the largest geyser known. Its eruptions were 300 feet high, and the width of the water column was equally great. The eruptions were so tremendous that the crater was blown out at one side and it ceased to play in 1890.

TodayExcelsior Geyser, located in Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin, is considered the largest geyser in the world, though now effectively dormant. During its last major eruptions in the 1880s, Excelsior frequently reached a height of 300 feet, creating the dramatic display shown in this early Haynes divided-back postcard. It is believed that the violent eruptions of that period may have caused damage to the sinter lining, allowing gas leakage, and resulting in reduced thermal energy. The only observed eruption since that early time was in 1985 when Excelsior erupted for two days, reaching a height of between 20 and 80 feet. As a hot spring, it discharges more than 4050 gallons of water per minute. Its large deep crater and brilliant blue appearance allow it to remain one of Yellowstone’s popular thermal attractions.  (Source: Carl Schreier, A Field Guide to Yellowstone’s Geysers, Hot Springs and Fumaroles)

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Giant Geyser, Yellowstone Park, is the greatest geyser in the world today in point of height and duration of eruption. It plays 250 feet high for a few moments in the earlier part of each display,and continues for an hour and a half at lesser heights. Its intervals of quiet between eruptions vary from six to fourteen days.

Today: Giant Geyser truly lives up to its name. It is currently the second tallest geyser in the world, only Steamboat Geyser located in Yellowstone’s Norris Geyser Basin is taller. An eruption of Giant can reach 250 feet, last over an hour and put out an estimated one million gallons of water. For comparison, a large Old Faithful eruption reaches about 150 feet, lasts less than 5 minutes (the biggest part lasts less than one minute) and puts out around 10,000 gallons of water. 

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Giant Geyser Cone, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park, is the orifice of the highest geyser in the park. It plays 250 feet high at varying intervals — 100 feet higher than Old Faithful Geyser. Its cone with one side gone is today just the same as when it was first discovered.

Today: Giant Geyser was dormant for many years after the energy shift in 1955. Since then, it has slowly become active again. During 1997, its eruptions occurred every 3 – 10 days. This spectacular geyser’s eruptions last about an hour and can reach heights of 180 – 250 feet (55 – 76m). During eruptions small geysers nearby may also erupt.

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Beehive Geyser, 200 Feet, Yellowstone Park, although seldom in eruption is one of the most striking geysers in the park. It plays out of its nozzle-like opening like a giant fire hose with a great roar. Eruptions last 15 minutes.

Today: Beehive Geyser is magnificent. Eruptions usually occur twice each day with displays lasting 4 – 5 minutes. During an eruption, the narrow cone acts like a nozzle, projecting the water column to heights of 130 – 190 ft (40 – 55m). 

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Castle Geyser, 75 Ft., Upper Basin, Yellowstone Park, has one of the most prominent geyser cones in the park, indicative of great antiquity as the geyserite, a silicious deposit, forms extremely slow.

Today: Castle Geyser has the largest cone and may be the oldest of all geysers in the basin. Its eruption pattern has changed considerably throughout its recorded history. Castle is currently erupting about every 10 – 12 hours. A water eruption frequently reaches 90 feet (27m) and lasts about 20 minutes. The water phase is followed by a noisy steam phase lasting 30 – 40 minutes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this nostalgic Yellowstone tour!

Yellowstone National Park 1931-32

In a sort of continuation of my Dad’s west coast adventures, I have quite a few old postcards from Yellowstone. It appears that he was good at buying postcards and actually writing messages on them, addressing them, and then not sending them! All of the postcards in my possession contain no stamp or postal cancellation. So, I must assume that he just brought the cards back to Kentucky when he returned. I do hope he did manage to send other cards to all these people. After all, he was asking them to write! If you’re just joining us here, please feel free to visit the two previous posts leading up to this one. For the beginning of the story, click here to open Riding the Rails During the Great Depression, and click here  to open Dad’s Tour of the West Coast During the Great Depression. Each link will open in a new tab.

It seems he stayed out West a lot longer than I ever thought. He and his friends arrived in Oregon in April 1931 during the Depression. I now believe they went West seeking better employment opportunities. After some touring and spending time with friends in Santa Barbara, he got employment that summer at Yellowstone National Park. He indicated on some of the cards that he would be in Yellowstone until September/October and then would return to Santa Barbara (or the California coast) for the winter. He never talked much about it to me when I was growing up. Oh, the opportunities we miss to learn about our family and heritage. Anyway, about the only thing I ever remember him saying is that one should never want to cross the path of the grizzly bear.

The cards were made by Haynes Picture Shops, Inc., 341 Selby Ave., St. Paul, Minn. and Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.

Click on each Today for additional information. Please enjoy the cards!

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Twin Cub Bears, Yellowstone Park. The black bear exists in the park in a number of color phases, the commonest type is black with a brown nose. Others are dark and medium brown, reddish brown and dull buffy brown. Even cub bears resent being teased and are usually treated with the respect that they deserve.

Today: The Grizzly bear population within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is estimated to be approximately 600 bears (Haroldson and Frey 2011) bears. Approximately 150-200 of these grizzly bears are estimated to have home ranges at least partially inside Yellowstone National Park. There are no current scientific estimates of the black bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, however black bears are considered to be common in the area.

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Petrified Tree, Yellowstone Park. This remnant of a great primeval forest turned to stone through the ages has to be protected from unthinking souvenir hunters by a jail, however, a good view may be had of it despite the barriers. Nearby, though leveled to the ground within the past decade, is a buried stump nearly six feet in diameter.

Today: (It’s still there!) The Petrified Tree, located near the Lost Lake trailhead, is an excellent example of an ancient redwood, similar to many found on Specimen Ridge, that is easily accessible to park visitors. The interpretive message here also applies to those trees found on Specimen Ridge.

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Lake Hotel, Yellowstone Park, is one of the four large hotels operated in the park by the Yellowstone Park Hotel Company. It overlooks Yellowstone Lake, the largest body of water in the park, which has an area of 139 square miles and is at an elevation of 7,730 feet above sea level. He worked at this hotel.

Today: Still there and operating! Lake Yellowstone Hotel is undergoing a full interior multi-million dollar renovation including lobbies and public spaces, restaurant, bar and guest rooms. The work will be done in two phases. Phase 1 will be completed in June 2013 and includes 45 guest rooms, dining room, lobby and front desk area. Phase 2 will begin by 2015 and will involve all remaining rooms, the Lake Deli and public spaces.

This historic hotel, originally built in 1891, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991. The elegant structure, known for its Colonial architectural influence, yellow exterior color and huge white columns, will benefit from a major structural stabilization as part of the early renovations. The interior features a massive Sunroom lobby overlooking Yellowstone Lake and a lake view dining room. 45 guest rooms will be involved in the first phase of renovations and will now include in-room wired internet availability. Other interior improvements will be the addition of a business center with computer stations and wired internet for Lake Hotel guests, and a redesigned lobby bar that will serve Sunroom and dining room guests.

For 2013, Lake Yellowstone Hotel is accepting reservations for renovated and non-renovated guest rooms. Non-renovated rooms do not include the amenities, including internet, associated with the newly renovated rooms.

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The Lookout, summit of Mt. Washburn, 10,346 ft., was built by the National Park Service as a fire lookout, and resting place for guests. From here the majestic Teton Mountains, many miles away are visible, as well as a good panorama of the entire park.

Today: Still there and still functioning. The link takes you to a more current photo (1997). Mt. Washburn is the only lookout accessible by vehicle.

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Grand Prismatic Spring, near the crater of the now extinct Excelsior Geyser in the Midway Geyser Basin is considered one of the most beautiful hot pools in the region. It is always quiescent, and steaming.

Today: Grand Prismatic Spring, located in Midway Geyser Basin, has the distinction of being the park’s largest hot spring. It measures approximately 370 feet (112.8 m) in diameter and is over 121 feet (37 m) deep. A description of this spring by fur trapper Osborne Russell in 1839 also makes it the earliest described thermal feature in Yellowstone that is definitely identifiable.

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Sylvan Lake and Top Notch Peak, Yellowstone Park. Sylvan Lake is at an elevation of 8,413 feet, while a short distance to the East is Sylvan Pass, 8,559 feet high. This picture is one of the most popular of the entire Haynes’ collection of the park.

Today: Cutthroat trout are native to Sylvan Lake. Between 1913 and 1943, however, an additional stock of over 2.5 million fry was added to the lake. In 1978, longnose suckers were discovered in the lake, likely having found their way there from Yellowstone Lake via Clear Creek. Today, fishing for cutthroats is catch and release only.

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In Yellowstone Park there are approximately 1000 buffaloes (American Bison). The majority of these constitute the Lamar Valley herd., some of which are in this picture. The “show herd” of only a few buffaloes is quartered at Mammoth Hot Springs during the summer season.

Today: The bison (Bison bison) is the largest land mammal in North America. In a typical year, more than 3,000 bison roam the grasslands of Yellowstone National Park. Bulls are more massive in appearance than cows, and more bearded. For their size, bison are agile and quick, capable of speeds in excess of 30 mph. Each year, bison injure park visitors who approach too closely.

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Yellowstone Lake, elevation 7,734 feet, has an irregular shore line of 100 miles, twenty miles across, and is fed by springs and glaciers of the mountains surrounding it. Its waters are cold, clear, and swarm with native trout.

Today: Recent research by Dr. Val Klump of the Center for Great Lakes Research and the University of Wisconsin has revolutionized the way we look at Yellowstone Lake. Figuratively, if one could pour all the water out of Yellowstone Lake, what would be found on the bottom is similar to what is found on land in Yellowstone; geysers, hot springs, and deep canyons. With a small submersible robot, the researchers found a canyon just east of Stevenson Island which was 390 ft. deep. Prior to this finding, the deepest spot in the lake was thought to be 320 ft., at West Thumb.

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Roosevelt Lodge in Lost Creek Canyon, overlooks the Lamar River and Yellowstone River Valleys. Near here President Roosevelt camped for a month in 1903. The surrounding country provides countless interesting nature studies.

Today: Named for Yellowstone enthusiast Theodore Roosevelt who regularly visited the park, this rustic log lodge and cabin facility was built in an area of the park that was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.

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Crater of Mud Volcano, Yellowstone Park, a paint pot about thirty feet in size emitting frequent bursts of steam; but since 1898 has had no violent eruption. In 1870 N.P. Langford witnessed an eruption of the Mud Volcano which attained a height of several hundred feet.

Today: When the Washburn Expedition explored the area in 1870, Nathaniel Langford described Mud Volcano as “greatest marvel we have yet met with.” Although the Mud Volcano can no longer be heard from a mile away nor does it throw mud from its massive crater, the area is still eerily intriguing.

Dad’s Tour of the West Coast During the Great Depression

Back in January 2013, I made my first ever blog entry entitled Riding the Rails During the Great Depression. It was primarily excerpts from a short travel diary my father kept in 1931, during the depression, when he and a number of his buddies rode the rails from Ashland, KY to Washington State. If you have an interest in checking out the first part, you can click on the italicized title above and you should be taken there for a quick review. In this diary, he makes references to pictures taken with his camera. I’m afraid I don’t have any of those which is a major disappointment.

When I last left off, the train had entered Portland, Oregon and he was talking about how beautiful everything was.

I checked my things at the Y and caught a street car over to Vancouver. I met Mr. and Mrs. James and also got a square meal. I came back over to Portland that afternoon and ate at the Y then I got a room in the Byron Hotel. I signed up for a week.

I don’t know who Mr. and Mrs. James were. Probably family of some friends back in Ashland who were being hospitable to the out-of-towner. I read a little about the YMCA in Portland during that time period. The little bit I read, it seems that the Y didn’t have such a good reputation at that time and maybe that’s why he moved on to the Hotel.

Portland YMCA

Portland YMCA

Hotel Byron

We took in the sights that nite and then got a good nite’s sleep. Six of us went to the Baptist Church the next morning to Sunday school.

That evening Mr. O’Neal from Medford hunted us up and took Tussey, Elsworth, and myself for a ride. We also played a round of Golf.

The Oregon O’Neals were related to an O’Neal family in Ashland that Dad and his friends knew and they had agreed to host them. I never knew that Dad had ever had any interest in golf, let alone that he played the game when he was young.

Sunday nite was spent taking in the sights again.

Monday was also spent in seeing the sights and we left Portland at 6:00 o’clock Monday p.m. headed south.

We ate a swell supper in Salem (the State capital). That nite we stayed in a tourist cabin. We were on the road again at 5:00 headed for a little place called Detroit. The fellow told us that he would have plenty of work for us if we would wait 10 days. We didn’t want to wait. Left at Mill City a Mr. Allen showed us through a big lumber mill, it sure was a big one too. I believe I’d rather work in the steel mill.

As I read through his diary and noted references to little bits and pieces of information, it seems that his trip out West was not just a “vacation” and to see the sights. It is becoming more apparent to me that he and his buddies went West looking for work. Perhaps the only kind of work available during the depression in Kentucky and the surrounding area might have been at one of the steel mills. I can’t imagine how hard that kind of work would have been. It sounds like he maybe checked out the steel mills before heading West and the lumber mills were giving him a new perspective!

Mill City was on the Santiam River. I snapped a couple of pictures of the river. 

Santiam River

Santiam River

Our next stop was at a lumber camp on Lost Creek a branch of the Williamette[sic] about 100 miles from Mill City. I got a few pictures of the logs there.

Mill operations on Lost Creek, tributary to Middle Fork Willamette River

Mill operations on Lost Creek, tributary to Middle Fork Willamette River

I wish I had the pictures he had taken…

We then came back to Eugene. The site of the Univ. of Ore. I stayed that nite at a ranch at Creswell, 12 miles from Eugene. We shot the bow & arrow and I accidently won it. I hit the bullseye out of my first 6 shots.

The next morning we went to a construction camp on the Williamette[sic] River, about 80 miles from the Camp. I snapped a few pictures there too.

That afternoon we played a game of Golf in Eugene then we saw the Univ. of Ore. Beat the Univ. of Idaho 17 to 0 in a baseball game. 

Oregon State College 1931

Oregon 1931

Mr. O’Neal asked us if we wanted the car to go to the dance that night. Of course we did so we shaved, washed and cleaned up and were off. I had to talk a long time before he would let us in free.

They don’t dance like we do back home so we didn’t have much fun. I tried to dance with some dame that said her name was Sybil Cornutt but it was a flop. After the dance we passed them walking down the street. They were plenty willing to take a ride and so were we. And did we have fun. We arrived home at 3 bells.

Dame? He said dame? It must have been the times. Maybe they got that from all the movies or gangster quotes like from Al Capone! You know, the Al Capone they couldn’t find listed in the phone directory when their train stopped in Chicago! Anyway, I was curious about this Sybil Cornutt. Other than Dad’s buddies, it was the only name he wrote. So, curious cat that I am, I did some Googling. I had hoped to find a picture or something to make her come more to life. I did find her on a couple of genealogy sites and suffice it to say that Sybil Cornutt was born in Oregon on September 16, 1910.  Same year Dad was born! It fits.

After a 3 hour rest we were on the road to Medford. We picked up Paul Vaughan and Chas. Ball, 2 of the gang. They said they were going to Tulsa, Okla.

Sam and I stayed that nite at Mr. O’Neal’s in Medford and again we got the car.

The next day we took a trip to the Ore. Caves, 4500 ft upon a mountain. It sure was a beautiful trip.

Oregon Caves NPS.gov

Cliff Nature Trail to Oregon Caves
NPS.gov

Cliff Nature Trail2 - NPS.gov

View from Cliff Nature Trail
NPS.gov

Sam and I went to a show to-nite. We saw Joe E. Brown in “Maybe It’s Love” and it sure was good.

Maybe It's Love 1930 Source: Wikepedia

Maybe It’s Love 1930
Source: Wikepedia

This morning, Sat. May 2, we were up bright and early and off for a trip to Crater Lake. The sun is shining bright in the Valley, but there’s clouds around the top of the mts. As we go up the Mt. we run into rain and it begins to get cooler. As we continue to climb, we hit patches of snow and then nothing but snow. As we near the top of the Mt. where the lake is, the rain turns into snow and it sure is cold. There is about 10 ft. of snow on top of the Mt. and the lake sure is beautiful. It’s cloudy though and I’m afraid my pictures won’t be very good. The lake is about 20 miles across but it doesn’t look 2.

Crater Lake and Wizard Island NPS.com

Crater Lake and Wizard Island
NPS.com

As we come back down the Mt. the snow turns to rain and then into sunshine and back into warm weather again. It hasn’t even rained a drop in the Valley.

Sun. morning we took a fishing trip up in the Canyons of the Rogue River. I turned out to be a poor fisherman but I did hold my own with the rifle.

I wonder what he meant by a “poor fisherman”? Because, as he got older and was looking forward to retirement (before he lost his health), he used to always say he wanted to spend his retirement fishing. So, maybe he just meant that he was a poor fisherman that day because he didn’t catch anything.

Rogue National Wild and Scenic River BLM.com

Rogue National Wild and Scenic River
BLM.com

We had ice cream and cake for supper.

Mmm, sounds like my kind of eatin’!!

This morning, Mon. 4th, I walked about a mile to a gasoline station to see about a job but I was too late. He had just hired a fellow.

Well at 2 o’clock this afternoon I took a notion I wanted to go to Santa Barbara, Calif. So I shipped 2 shirts, my bathing suit and some toilet articles on ahead and lit out with only my camera.

My first ride was with a fellow in a Star Coupe. He said he was going 75 miles down the trail. I only rode 13 with him cause I didn’t like his looks. I got out in a place called Ashland. They had the State Normal School there and plenty of fun women. My next ride was in a Paige Coupe for about 200 miles to a place called Redding, it is in Calif. It is so damn hot here that I’m about to croak.

1929 Graham  Paige Coupe

1929 Graham Paige Coupe

1926 Star Coupe

1926 Star Coupe

The bed is clean but as hard as a rock. So good nite until tomorrow.

Well, that’s the end of Dad’s writings about his trip. Sigh… It’s not the end of his trip, though. I do know he had an uncle living in Santa Barbara. I have bits and pieces of information from here and there about his summer in the West. I thought at first this was just a trip to the west coast to do some sightseeing and then return home again. Suffice it to say, I’ve been surprised. I haven’t calculated how much time was spent but with travel and various jobs, it was definitely months! So I’ve got my work cut out to try and put it all together. So, on that note, in my Dad’s words, good nite until tomorrow (the next time)!

Riding the Rails During the Great Depression

From Ashland, KY to Portland, OR - 1931

From Ashland, KY to Portland, OR – 1931

In 1931, at the age of 20, my Dad and 7 of his friends left their homes in Kentucky and headed West on the rails during the Great Depression. Dad kept a little diary of the trip in a small notebook written in pencil.

Following are a few excerpts from his travel diary (written in blue italics) with some of my own comments inserted in regular text:

The date is Wednesday, April 22, 1931.  It’s raining and snowing.  I have a one-way ticket to Portland, Ore. We catch train No. 1 bound for Cincinnati and bid Ashland goodbye at 8:55 a.m. There are eight of us. All nice fellows to be sure. Their names are Charles E. Ball, Bennet Tussey, Sam Elsworth and myself of Ashland. Paul A. Vaughan of Ironton, O. Charles R. “Buzz” Waldron of Russell, Ky. Kenneth Ames of Catlettsburg, Ky. And Louis E. Hannon of Maysville, Ky.

Wouldn’t it be just so much fun to travel across country by rail. To be able to see this country without all of the hustle and bustle of “hurry up and get there”. I just did a curiousity search on Amtrack for today’s fares from Ashland, KY to Portland, OR.  Looks like for a reserved coach seat the price  ranges from $326 to $440 one way.  Quite a difference in cost from the 30’s………

We are stopped by a C&O agent in Cinn. who tells us that we can’t take the Big 4 train out of there on the ticket. We slip around and ask the Conductor of the Big 4 and he says it’s all right so that saves us 24 hours delay but loses $150.00 for the C&O. We leave Cinn. at 1:00 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 7:45 p.m. 

Chicago in the 30’s! My, but that conjures up a lot of images. Of course, all my images are from history books and old movies. I think of Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.  Dad’s next entry just made me laugh. Although if I landed in Chicago in the 30’s, I probably would have done the exact same thing………

After eating a big supper we try to find Al Capone’s name in the telephone book but don’t have any luck though.

A penny? Just a penny? Sheesh, the government now wants to eliminate them altogether………

A few minutes later a drunk wants to borrow a penny from us. It isn’t long till he is kicked out by the cop in the Depot.

Well, we’re on the Portland Rose at last. It leaves at 10:15 just 2 ½ hours after we arrive. We all stretch out in the seat and prepare for a night’s rest. We can’t afford a sleeper.

We cross the Miss. River just after midnite. I wake up in Ames, Iowa Thursday morning just at daylight. The next town of any importance was Omaha, Neb. We arrived there at 9:45 a.m.

We only have 20 minutes to find a restaurant. We don’t have any too much time either for the train is ready to go when we get back.  It’s snowing pretty hard but it isn’t sticking. 10:05 and we leave Omaha.

We pass through a town called Columbus but it isn’t in Ohio.  It happens to be in Nebraska.

I’ve seen this same scene in some of the old black and white movies I watch. I can picture it all so easily………

Well, the big time is now starting, all 8 of us are in the smoker. Buzz is playing a French harp and we are all singing. We’re getting a big hand from the passengers out in the coach.

We pass on through North Platte, Julesburg, Sidney and Cheyenne at 8:25. It seems that we went into Colorado at Julesburg and right back out again. Everything is white with snow and we can see plenty of jackrabbits and pheasants.

We travel on through Laramie, Rawling and Green River but it isn’t a drink. I had to consult my timetable cause I was asleep. At 6:00 we’re just coming into Kemmerer. We leave Wyoming and enter Idaho at Pegram. We don’t stop though. The train stops 5 minutes at Montpelier and 10 minutes at Pocatello. We stop a minute at Boise, the capital of Idaho, and I get a snapshot of the Depot and the mountains. We get another picture at Nampa.

I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest. I’m sure it was magnificent then because it’s still beautiful now………

We got into Oregon in Nyssa and right back out again. We’re on the Snake River. We stop at Huntington, Oregon and change our watch for the 2nd time since we left home. We pass through the Columbia River Gorge and follow the river on into Portland. It sure was beautiful. We passed waterfalls, one that fell 600 feet. Cliffs that rise 500 and 600 feet straight into the air. Every once in a while I can see the highway about halfway up the mountain. It is just too beautiful for words. We arrived in Portland at 7:45 Saturday morning. 

Seems to be the cry of the times………

One of the boys made a wise one.  He said that we couldn’t get lost because we wasn’t goin anyplace. 

So there is the first part of the trip. I remember a train ride I had as a child in the 50’s. That’s another story for another time!

Statistics indicate that during the Great Depression approximately 250,000 teenagers (out of about four million jobless) were riding the rails. 

In 1932, Southern Pacific agents ejected 683,457 trespassers from the company’s trains. The price of trespassing on the rails was high: The Interstate Commerce Commission recorded 5,962 trespassers killed and injured in the first 10 months of 1932. See PBS.ORG for more information on Riding the Rails during The Great Depression.