Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Driving the Lincoln Highway in 1919 ~ part 10, “Don’t wish this trip on your grandchildren!”

August 10, 2018

As our journey alongside Beatrice Massey comes to an end, she has a few words of wisdom for transcontinental travelers who might follow:

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Lincoln Park, 1920. This bronze of Rodin’s The Three Shades was installed in 1920; it now resides inside the museum. [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library, lhc0140]


“Yes, this was indeed ‘the end of the road,’ with all of California yet to see. We had traversed the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific without an accident or a day’s illness, and with only two punctures! We look back on comparatively few discomforts, and many, many pleasures and thrilling experiences, with keen satisfaction.

“Unless you really love to motor, take the Overland Limited. If you want to see your country, to get a little of the self-centered, self-satisfied  Eastern hide rubbed off, to absorb a little of the fifty-seven (thousand) varieties of people and customs, and the alert, open-hearted, big atmosphere of the West, then try a motor trip. You will get tired, and your bones will cry aloud for a rest cure; but I promise you one thing—you will never be bored! No two days were the same, no two views were similar, no two cups of coffee tasted alike. In time—in some time to come—the Lincoln Highway will be a real transcontinental boulevard. But don’t wish this trip on your grandchildren!”

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Muddy roads in Indiana, just before work on the Ideal Section was started in 1920. [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library, lhc2806]

Driving the LH in 1919 ~ part 9, Pacific Ocean

August 9, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

It’s early September, 1919, and our cross-country travelers have finally reached San Francisco. The LHA had aimed to complete improving and marking its highway for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915; just four years later, almost nothing remained of that grand world’s fair.

However, one odd connection to the fair remains: the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (now simply The Legion of Honor Museum) famously marking the end of the Lincoln Highway is a full-scale replica of the French Pavilion from the 1915 Expo, which itself was a 3/4-scale version of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Paris.

And now back to Beatrice Massey and her book, It Might Have Been Worse: A Motor Trip from Coast to Coast:

“The next day we were in the thick of the whirl. I did not consider our trip really ended until we stood on the sands of the Pacific. We motored through the city, out to the former Exposition grounds, where but a few buildings were left standing, and to the Presidio, one of the oldest military stations in our country, embracing an area of 1542 acres, overlooking the harbor….

“Driving through Lincoln Park, we entered Golden Gate Park, covering 1013 acres, with hundreds of varieties of plant life from all parts of the world, artificial lakes, boulevards, and the gorgeous flowers for which California is famed….

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The third and current Cliff House, built 1909. [NPR]

“The park extends to the Ocean Beach Boulevard, on the edge of the sands, where the breakers come bounding in against the Seal Rocks and the high promontory on which the Cliff House stands. The water is cold, and a dangerous undertow makes bathing unsafe, but the shore is lined with cars; hundreds of people and children are on the sand, and the tame sea-gulls are walking on the street pavement very much like chickens.

“We went up to the historic Cliff House, the fourth of the name to be built on these rocks. Since 1863, the millionaires of this land and the famous people of the world have dined here, watching the sea-lions play on the jagged reefs. It is closed now, and looks as deserted as any of the tumble-down old buildings which surround it.”

The Cliff House was actually just the third, opened in 1909. It was closed in 1918 after a government order halted sale of liquor “within a half mile of military installations,” soon to be followed by Prohibition. Nonetheless that same building still greets tourists to this day.

Driving the LH in 1919 ~ part 8, California

June 26, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

Our cross-country travelers of 1919 approach the West Coast, as recounted in the book It Might Have Been Worse:

“Beyond Reno the ascent of the Sierra Nevada begins, and you pass Lake Tahoe, six thousand feet high, the most delightful summer-resort region in America. The Lincoln Highway joins the other routes here, and is really a highway, making a glorious finish in Lincoln Park, San Francisco. One of the finest views is the mighty canyon of the American River, with the  timbered gorge and the rushing stream two thousand feet below. You are held spellbound by the scenery, as you descend the western slope to Sacramento, the capital of California, 125 miles from San Francisco….

“With four hundred miles of navigable waterways, transportation facilities are exceptional, and it is small wonder these valleys of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin are the banner ‘growing section’ of the state. It was like driving through a private estate all the way to Oakland, where our first view of glorious San Francisco harbor greeted us. Oakland and Berkeley, ‘the bedrooms’ of San Francisco (as a prominent banker explained to us), are on the east shores of the bay. On the front of the City Hall in Oakland (which, by the  way, we were told is the tallest building in California) was the sign, typical of these open-hearted people, ‘Howdy, Boys!’ (to the returning soldiers) in place of the proverbial ‘Welcome.’…

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“Road near Oakland, California,” c. 1920. [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library, lhc0022]

“We were landed at the ferry slip, and with a sensation never to be forgotten we drove off the wharf into San Francisco — ‘the city loved around the world’ — built upon hills overlooking the expanse of the Pacific, with a cosmopolitan throng of half a million people. We could not  have reached here at a more fortunate or auspicious time. San Francisco was en-fete in honor of the fleet. Every street and building was festooned with flags, banners, and garlands of flowers…. Bands were playing, auto-horns were tooting, and the air was alive with excitement — joyous, over-bubbling pleasure, that had to find a vent or blow up the place….

“The next day the Transcontinental Government Motor Convoy arrived, which added to the celebration that lasted a week. It had come over the Lincoln Highway, with every conceivable experience; the gallant young officer in command, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles McClure, told us at dinner the next evening that ‘Our worst experiences were in the desert. The sand was so  deep and the trucks were so heavy that at times we only made a mile an hour. When one got stuck, the men cut the sagebrush and filled the ruts, and then we were able to crawl.’ The city gave them an ovation, and “dined” them as well — and doubtless would have liked to have ‘Vined’ them also.”

Driving in 1919 ~ part 7, from gumbo to dessert

June 22, 2018

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO

Our travelers left the Lincoln Highway soon after Pittsburgh for a more northerly route. In North Dakota, they bogged down in gumbo just like LH travelers did in Iowa. After waiting out a rain shower under a tree, they set out:

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LHA President Henry Joy struggles to navigate the group’s official Packard through the gumbo of Iowa in 1915 [University of Michigan–Special Collections Library, lhc1964]

“We noticed that the cars coming in were covered with mud and concluded that they had come over country roads. Surely not the National Parks Highway! So down went the top, and off we started in a wet atmosphere, but not really raining. The chains had not been disturbed since they were comfortably stowed away on leaving New York. One man advised us to put them on, but with a superior don’t-believe-we-will-need-them air we left our tree shelter. He called out after us, ‘Say, strangers, you don’t know what you all are getting into!’ We didn’t, but we jolly soon found out! In ten minutes we had met gumbo, and were sliding, swirling, floundering about in a sea of mud! I will try to describe it. A perfectly solid (apparently) clay road can become as soft as melted butter in an hour. Try to picture a narrow road, with deep ditches, and just one track of ruts, covered with flypaper, vaseline, wet soap, molasses candy (hot and underdone), mire, and any other soft, sticky, slippery, hellish mess that could be mixed — and even that would not be gumbo!”

After visiting Yellowstone, they still had a long way just to reach Nevada. Other tourists repeatedly told them to ship their car to Reno, which would put them back on the Lincoln Highway and near the California border. But they pressed onward across the barren landscape:

“The sand was deeper and the chuck-holes, even with the most careful driving, seemed to rack the car to pieces. If we had had an accident, the outlook would have been decidedly vague for us. Not a car or a telegraph pole in sight. By ten o’clock that morning the sun scorched our skin through our clothing. But we had one good laugh. Over a deep chuck-hole there had been built a stone bridge. On one end, in large black letters, was ‘San Francisco’ (the first sign we had seen with that welcome name) and on the other end was ‘New York’! The incongruity struck us as being so absurd that we roared with laughter.”

They finally gave up at Montello, Nevada, and put their car (and themselves) on a train for the final 400 miles to Reno:

“It cost $3.85 per hundred pounds and $5.73 war-tax to ship the car to Reno (or to San Francisco — no difference in the rate to either place). It weighed, including four spares and other equipment, 4960 pounds, and the bill was $196.69.”

 

EL Cerrito photo shows pre-Lincoln Hwy business

March 12, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The El Cerrito (California) Patch publishes monthly updates from the El Cerrito Historical Society. This month features a look at the early days of San Pablo Avenue, which served as the Lincoln Highway after the route was moved in 1928 to the northerly path between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The community was originally called Rust for Wilhelm Rust, whose blacksmith shop was on San Pablo Avenue at was is now the intersection of Fairmount Avenue. The area became El Cerrito in 1917 when the city was incorporated. The above view of the shop — before the Lincoln Highway and even autos came through — is looking west across San Pablo from Fairmount. Rust’s wife Lina sits in the carriage with Wilhelm to our right of her. Photo courtesy of Louis L. Stein, El Cerrito Historical Society collection.

San Fran diner in family 73 years facing changes

April 19, 2010

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Louis’ Restaurant, an old-style diner overlooking the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco, is facing an interesting dilemma. The popular restaurant is west of the Lincoln Highway terminus but has been passed for 73 years by those finishing their cross-country adventure by continuing on to the Cliff House or the ocean itself. The business is run by the descendants of founder Louis Hontalas, but a 1998 congressional edict requires the landowner, the National Park Service, to put out for bid concessions with revenues of more than $500,000. The Hontalas family will have to bid against other people and corporations for the right to keep their own restaurant.

The origins of the place go back to Valentine’s Day 1937, when Tom’s grandfather and grandmother, Helen Hontalas, opened the restaurant on Point Lobos Avenue. They were Greek immigrants struggling to make it during the Great Depression.

Louis’ was a tiny place then, built out of what had once been a covered wooden walkway leading from a streetcar barn to the famous Sutro Baths. The land at that time was owned by the nephew of Adolph Sutro….

In 1948, the adjacent streetcar barn burned down, severely damaging the restaurant. Louis and Helen rebuilt the cafe….

Louis died in 1972, and one year later the land was incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Louis’ son, Jim, remodeled the place in 1974 even though there was no guarantee that the lease would be renewed….

Whoever leases the place will also have to build a second exit, make the restaurant fire- safe and do other renovations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The work will ultimately cost at least $500,000, Hontalas said.

Ride on Lincoln Highway honors 9/11 victims

September 11, 2009

When United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001, it radically changed the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Today, access roads to the temporary memorial branch off from the Lincoln Highway, not too far west of where the Ship Hotel stood, which itself burned a month later. Families of the 40 passengers and crew who perished there on 9/11 have been traveling west by motorcycle for the past two weeks, often on the Lincoln Highway, to complete the trip their loved ones were making to California. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Their trip is the same, from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco International Airport, and it will end this morning shortly after 11 a.m. – when Flight 93 was to have landed. The only difference: Joey traveled by plane and his family will arrive astride rumbling Harley-Davidsons….

After they get to the airport, the riders will go to the Dudley Perkins Harley-Davidson dealership in South San Francisco. This afternoon, they will ride to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, where a concrete pillar marks the end of the Lincoln Highway, the transcontinental road that passes near the site in Shanksville….

The end of a long road, the end of a long trip.

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SF Chron Flt 93 map

Above image from http://www.sfgate.com/. Read more aof the article HERE.

Reporters follow Lincoln Highway eastward

September 2, 2009

From Oh My News comes a series of reports by David McLane documenting life in small towns along four major highways in the US. First was US 95 from Mexico to Canada, then south on US 395 from Canada near Laurier, Washington, then merging with I-15 near Hesperia, California (at one time it went all the way to Mexican border near San Diego and was called the “Three Flags Highway”). The third section of the journey is the Lincoln Highway, then wrapping up with US 60 starting at Virginia Beach.

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To get to San Francisco, they went north through the central valley of California and Weedpatch, made famous by John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” This report ends when they reach “the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, the west end of the Lincoln Highway”:
english.ohmynews.com/.

Now they’re on their way driving eastward: english.ohmynews.com/. Click at the end of each article to see the two reports since this one. You’ll find some interesting observations about life along the road, and some cool photos too.

Boots' Jeep and military convoy anniv wrap up

July 16, 2009

The retracing of the 1919 military convoy route made headlines at it crossed the U.S. the past month. The tour commemorated the 90th anniversary of the first transcontinental U.S. Army motor transport convoy, most of it along the Lincoln Highway. Some of the participants also posted updates. Marilyn Boots reported on her travels with Dennis in “Jezebel,” a Vietnam-era jeep that he restored.

Boots Jeep

Dennis is a former Army captain who served with the combat engineers, with one tour of duty in Vietnam. Their blog is bootsadventure.blogspot.com/ (also the source for these photos). He was maintenance officer for the convoy so his Jeep brought up the rear of the convoy. Marilyn was “chase lead,” responsible for seeing that civilian vehicles carrying family members of convoy participants stay on schedule.

Here is a comment from June 16, just a couple days after the launch:

Wow! The journey had been incredible so far and extremely busy. I just thought I could blog every evening! We’ve start with breakfasts at 6:30 and have not reached our hotel rooms until after 10 each night. Today is our first rest day, so I want to share some highlights. We are so filled up with memories already that we could stop now and be content.

And the end:

WE MADE IT!!! We all arrived safe and with NO BREAKDOWNS about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Western Terminus of the Lincoln Highway on the edge of San Francisco, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Golden Gate Bridge to the east…. We have never been so grateful for police escorts! There were 32 motorcycle policemen helping us through the enormous amount of traffic over the Bay Bridge and through the hills of San Francisco…. Again, we were cheered on by waving crowds and lots of picture taking as we made the final climb to our destination.

Boots Terminus marker

Denny visits Terminus on West Coast adventure

August 12, 2008

Well-known roadie Denny Gibson has been cruising down the Pacific Coast this week and passed through San Francisco the past couple days. Like producer Rick Sebak, he stayed overnight at the Pacific Heights Inn and reports it to be good and priced right. Yesterday morning he went in search of the last original 1928 Lincoln Highway concrete post. With a little help from me and Sebak’s blog and video diary, he found it with the surrounding bushes cut back to better reveal the post: “Yep, it’s so much easier that I walked by it twice without seeing it. I was looking for and into shrubs and certainly entertaining anyone who was watching.”

Then he cruised to the nearby Terminus marker, also an LHA concrete post but this one a modern reproduction.

Then it was off to the Cliff House to see where dedicated transcontinetalists really ended their trip – at the ocean, dipping their tires. (With the beach now closed to cars, there was no dipping for Denny’s tires.) Read more about his adventures from this trip, with tons of roadside info and images, at www.dennygibson.com/. (Note, his blog is a couple days behind so no LH mention is posted yet.)