Wednesday, February 1, 2017

(5) PREPARATION - Knowledge

A cure for insomnia!

As background for this trip I read everything I could find concerning the Lincoln Highway, the Yellowstone Trail and auto travel in general. Many of the sources were quite helpful, but a few did not contribute to my knowledge of the Lincoln Highway, the Yellowstone Trail nor to my preparation. Many of the sources I read were historical in nature, but several were contemporary. Most were about automobile travel, but some were not. Rinker Buck's book "The Oregon Trail" is neither about the Lincoln Highway, the Yellowstone Trail nor about automobiles. It was about his trek across the United States in a covered wagon. Nonetheless, the book is thought-provoking, well-written and a good lesson on being prepared for the journey ahead. One small book I read was Ford Motor Company's book "Station Wagon Living", a fun nostalgic read about camping in the late 1950's. It contributed a greatly to my enjoyment, but contained little of use to this journey.
Ford Motor Co Photo
From Station Wagon Living (1958)

Historical accounts give an appreciation of what early travelers endured on the Lincoln Highway and on the Yellowstone Trail. These early accounts remind us how easy we have it. Also I enjoy reading about the colorful personalities involved with both the Lincoln Highway and the Yellowstone Trail. Some of the early books list supplies to be taken along. Some items, such as a block and tackle, a slab of bacon and tire chains might have been useful 100 years ago but would be little help to me now for a 2017 summertime trip.

Brian Butko's books and travel guides on the Lincoln Highway are invaluable. Likewise Denny Gibson's book "By Mopar to the Golden Gate" was both enjoyable and helpful. Some of Denny's writings on the web and in particular advice he gave me on using a GPS to plan a trip will be of great assistance. Denny Gibson's book and Brian Butko's books deal with the Lincoln Highway. Most of the books I read, both historic and contemporary are about the Lincoln Highway. The Yellowstone Trail is not as widely known. Finding information concerning the Yellowstone Trail takes a bit more digging. While the information is not as widespread, what information exists is well researched and well written.

I was really only able to find three books of note concerning the Yellowstone Trail. The first book is Dorothy Dowling Prichard's book "We Blazed The Trail" about Michael Dowling's early trips on the Yellowstone Trail. Dowling was a remarkable man who nearly died in the great blizzard of 1880. He lost both feet and one hand to frostbite. Despite this he had a successful career in Minnesota state politics and was an advocate for the Yellowstone Trail. He traveled the Yellowstone from Minnesota to Yellowstone National Park and from Minnesota to Plymouth Rock in the very early days of the trail. The other 2 books I read were "Introducing the Yellowstone Trail" by John and Alice Ridge and "On the Road to Yellowstone" by Harold Meeks. These books describe how the Yellowstone Trail Association turned an apparent weakness into a strength which assured the Yellowstone Trail a place amongst the great coast-to-coast named highways of the early 20th century. The Association used its grassroots organization to successfully lobby county commissions and state road departments on a local level in a way that could not be done by a large national organization.

John Steinbeck's book "Travels with Charlie" reminded me of the importance of getting out of the car and talking to people. This may be hard for me at times, but it is something I hope to do. Linda will remind me.

Perhaps the best book on the history of highways in the United States is Earl Swift's: "The Big Roads." Likewise an article the June 1974 edition of American Heritage magazine by Joe McCarthy is a good source for historical material. One interesting thing about that article is it credits Carl Fisher with coming up with the name of the Lincoln Highway. More recent scholars credit Henry joy with coming up with the name. Whoever came up with the name, it's clearly a winner.
Having a background for this trip gives a deeper appreciation for the Lincoln Highway, it's founders and the individuals who first traveled it. The trip can be made without this knowledge but I don't think our sense of appreciation would be as great.

Ford Motor Company Photo

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you listed your reading material. I would like to read some of them. Really liked the Ford photo at the bottom of the page. I know what you mean about talking to others, I feel the same way. But many of my most memorable conversations have come from starting a conversation with a stranger.