Saturday, December 30, 2017

Eagle Gate

The Eagle Gate at Temple Square in Salt Lake City is the most unique, widely known, road-related artifact alongside US 89 from Mexico to Canada.

Brigham Young commissioned English immigrant Ralph Ramsay to carve an eagle to top the entry gate to Young's property. The eagle was dedicated February 17, 1859.  The 1875 map clip below sows the Eagle Gate at the intersection of First East and South Temple Streets.

The gate was removed in 1890 to make way for electric street cars.  After a relentless hue and cry from Utah citizenry, the eagle was copper plated and resumed its perch on top of a wider gate. The new gate was designed by one of Brigham Young's sons and dedicated by LDS and Salt Lake City leaders October 5, 1891.
The 1891 version of the Eagle Gate catapulted the iconic landmark into ever wider fame and legend.
The automobile inevitably replaced street cars. Eventually, official US numbered highways came to Salt Lake City.  The route of US 89 traveled State Street north to the Eagle Gate, giving the icon ever wider exposure to untold thousands of travelers. US 89 turned west at the Eagle Gate.

The fortunes of time smiled on the 1891 Eagle Gate for almost 70 years until a truck hit one of the support columns.  The Eagle Gate came down in 1960.  There was no doubt that the Eagle Gate would return.  The third version was designed by a Brigham Young grandson who was also son of the second gate's architect.

Hundreds of people attended the November 1, 1963, dedication of a soaring, monumental rendition of the Eagle Gate.  The design of the landmark has been called one of Salt Lake City's best standing examples of Mid-Century Modern design.

The Eagle Gate continues to soar tall, mighty and free as a tangible connection with LDS and Salt Lake City history.  The gate evokes the formative years of Intermountain West culture as well as the many transportation phases of the Wasatch Front. The Eagle Gate stands as a symbol of the ebb and flow of people across the Intermountain landscape.

There is no other artifact along US 89's route from Mexico to Canada that can compare to the cultural significance of the Eagle Gate.  Likewise, no other structure large or small carries such an incredibly rich history held aloft with such grace, class and style.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Support US 89 Team

Click photo or a graphic
to visit the website.
 Team Leader

John Parsons
Be a Lifer!

Only $25
Shirts & Hats

@ Team Store
See our other

US 89 stuff.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lake Elmira

The ever-endearing, oft retold story of Tucson's whimsical Lake Elmira will forever remain one of US 89's all-time top historical vignettes. We've addressed Lake Elmira in various contexts elsewhere in our US 89 online ecosystem. We think it would be a good idea to give Lake Elmira some space here, too.
Photo © 2017 by John D. Grahame, US 89 Team Charter Member.
The plaque above tells the Lake Elmira Story in a nut shell.  The plaque is bolted to the side of the Stone Avenue underpass where ephemeral Lake Elmira is located.
We prepared a fun little presentation on Lake Elmira using Adobe Spark as our story platform.
Here's the link:  Be sure and click on the button at the very end of the presentation.  That will take you to a lengthy retelling of the Lake Elmira Story.

Apparently, the completion of an underpass in Tucson is a Real Big Deal.  When the Stone Avenue underpass was dedicated, it drew the largest crowd ever seen (to that date) in downtown Tucson.
Naturally, we did a piece of that dedication.  Roy Drachman tells the story and you can read it here:

We received a couple of fun comments on Lake Elmira after we posted on the Tucson Facebook history group.  One long-time resident claims city engineers urposely pioneered "evaporative drainage" but funneling all rain runoff into major intersections where the water would be left  standing until it all evaporated.  An Tucson Old Timer who was a kid in the 40's said all Tucson intersections and underpasses were considered swimming pools after a rainstorm.

Nevertheless, there is only ONE Lake Elmira.  Many Thanks to John Grahame for taking the photo of the plaque in late December 2017.  It had been painted over by the city and was barely readable.  It's really nice to see someone has painstakingly cleaned the plaque and brought it back to excellent, readable condition.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Evergreen Highway

Once upon a time, highways had names, not numbers.  And so it was The Evergreen Highway was one of many such named routes that snaked their way across America and Arizona.  The Evergreen Highway predated US 89 and used a different route to get from Phoenix to Prescott.  Ironically, The Evergreen Highway closely followed what is today's I-17.  The map from which the screen clips are taken is dated 1924.  However, the map doesn't show The White Spar highway which was built in 1923.  Therefore, we'd suspect the map data (if you can call it data) used for this map is circa 1921-22.
Official US signage and numbering came about
for many reasons. One such reason was
that each named highway had its own logo.

Luckily, we were able to find some "core" information about The Evergreen Highway on Pages 176-177 of an April 1920 edition of  "The Rotarian."  Hopefully, this link will get you right to the article:

Here is an excerpt from the Rotarian article: "The policy of The Evergreen Highway Association is not to construct an Evergreen Highway where no highway was before, but to use the different motor roads already built, have them connected with equally good roads so that there will be one continuous chain of open- roadway - communication between North, South, East and West during three hundred and sixty-five days of the year.  No roads already established are to change their names, but all are to be a part of the Evergreen Highway."
Full map of southwest is located here:
The Evergreen Highway followed the route of what would become US 80 from El Paso to Phoenix.  At that point, The Evergreen Highway turned almost due north to Humboldt before turning west to enter Prescott.  From Prescott, the Evergreen Highway traveled north to Ash Fork and then followed what would become Rt. 66 to Needles and on to Las Vegas.

It would be only a few short years before all of the named highways became official US numbered routes, using a single sign design throughout the Nation. The completion in 1923 of the White Spar highway routed US 89 far to the West from the old Evergreen Highway.  Since the Evergreen Highway was largely a contrived route promoted by outsiders, the name quickly fell into disuse and is largely unknown today.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Cameron Bridge

The vehicle in the left photo was identified as a 1913 Hudson
by two members of The Antique Automobile Club of America.
The inverted triangle radiator badge is the telltale mark
of an early Hudson.  Hudson began business in 1909 so
the Hudson make would have been a relative newcomer.
Right photo ©  2017 by Peter Corbett
 The Cameron suspension bridge over The Little Colorado was built long before US 89 was even a gleam in anyone's eye.  At the time of its 1911 construction, the Cameron bridge was the longest suspension bridge west of The Mississippi River.
Photo © 2017 by Peter Corbett
 Time, a dry climate and private property protection have been kind to the bridge.  Amazingly, the bridge's original 1911 name plate remains intact on the south side of the structure.
Photo © 2017 by Peter Corbett
The bridge served early US 89 well from the mid 1920's until it was temporarily rendered structurally unsound in 1937. Ironically, it wasn't heavy traffic that damaged the bridge.  It was a flock of heavy sheep. (See story here.) The bridge was repaired and continued in service until 1958 when a newer bridge was constructed alongside the 1911 bridge.  The bridge was sold to an oil company in 1958 by the State of Arizona.
The Cameron suspension bridge is one of only four 
surviving bridges from Arizona's Territorial period.
 According to the historical inventory for this bridge, "Because of their exotic nature and expensive erection costs, suspension bridges were infrequently built in Arizona and the country. The Cameron Bridge is notable as the older of the two vehicular suspension bridges remaining in Arizona, a significant hybrid of suspension and truss engineering. As one of the few bridges remaining from Arizona's territorial period, the Cameron Bridge over the Little Colorado is one of the state's most historically and technologically significant early spans."

For a full engineering description and discussion of the historical context of the bridge see:

Source of three screen clips above:
Photo © 2017 by Peter Corbett
Sale of the bridge to private enterprise now appears in hindsight to have helped preserve the bridge. It has been in the oil company's best interest to keep the bridge in good shape.
The view above shows how the Cameron bridge is located adjacent to the long-standing Cameron Trading Post complex alongside The Little Colorado River.

For more information about the Cameron Bridge, visit the the two links below:

Here's a drone video of the bridge:

The cover photo

Mile Zero of US 89 began at the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.  This is a view of the US Customs (such as it was) in the 1930's.  Chances are good that the actual point-of-beginning of US 89 was located between those two stone lamp post columns seen behind the Customs building.  We did a little slide show of scenes of Customs.  Here 'tis: