Morning Oregonian. (Portland, Or.) 1861-1937, January 01, 1921, New Year's Edition, Section 2, Page 3, Image 11

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Of 358 Miles in Oregon, TVo Grade Exceeds 5 Per Cent 200
By John W. Kelly.
A STREET 358 miles in length,
that Is the Pacific highway In
Oregon. An unbroken ribbon
Of hard-surface pavement, extending
from the Columbia river through the
Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue river
valleys, across the summit of the Sis
kiyou mountains to the Oregon-Cali
fornia line. Such is the Oregon link
In the Pacific highway, which, when
completed, will extend from British
Columbia through Washington, Ore
gon and California to the Mexican
The Pacific highway Is one of the
two great traffic arteries in Oregon,
Its direction being north and south:
he Columbia river highway being
the other, stretching east and west.
In time a second great arterial high
way, north and south, will be built.
This second road Is The Dalles-California
highway and will be on the
ast side of tho Cascade mountains.
substantial start has been made on
this second route.
reoeiraung me section of the state
hp toe pvuuiauuu is most aense.
the most Important commercial
thoroughfare In the state. Situated
between the Cascade mountains and
the Coast range, it follows the trade
route of the early settlers and pens-.
trates. in succession, the chain of fer
tile and populous valleys which have
contributed so materially to the
wealth and development of Oregon.
Several mountain ranges, spurs from
the main ranges, are crossed by the
Pacific highway on natural and easy
It Is possible to drive a motor car
from Portland to the California line
over the Pacific highway In high gear.
There is no place in its entire length
of 358 miles where the grade at
tains a steepness greater than i per
cent, and even the cheapest cars can
negotiate a grade of that kind with
out going Into low or intermediate
gear. Even when the highway climbs
tho Siskiyou mountains, in southern
Oregon, and crosses "the hump" to
California, on the south side, the
maximum 5 per cent grade is main
tained, although a car crawls several
thousand feet above sea level.
Three Mare Yean .Needed.
Possibly three years more will be
required to finish the Pacific highway
its entire length through Oregon. To
finish mean to have the entire dis
tance hard-surfaced and all bridges
In place and guard fences installed at
dangerous points.
At present the Pacific highway is
an all-year road, even In its Incomplete
condition. There is hard - surface
paving or a crushed rock surface
from end to end of the highway with
in the confines of Oregon, with the
exception of one section of a couple
of miles, where an old road Is being
temporarily used. The hard-surfacing
approximates 200 miles.
Grades have all been made, save
for some half dozen miles or less,
where work was delayed by liti
gation. All grades have been pro
tected by broken rock and it is the
policy of the state highway commls
One hundred and seventy-two
miles of paved highway through
the finest scenery In America
that will be the Mount Hood
Loop foad when completed. Al
ready one link, 66 miles of the
Columbia River highway, has
been paved and attracts tourists
from all parts of the world. The
grandeur of the gorge of the
mighty Columbia has been told
by many pens. The remainder of
the route will wind through vir
gin forests and skirt the base
of America's most majestic
mountain. Mount Hood, a conical
pile of snow, perpetual glaciers
and ice-faced cliffs rising more
than 11.000 feet above sea level.
Miles Hard -Surfaced,
slon to wait until 'new grades have
been subjected to the storms and
traffic of at least two winters before
a paving contract is awarded. For
this reason the last of the grade sec
tlons, completed this year, are not
likely to be hard-surfaced for two
years more.
Owing to the scope of the enter
prise the state highway commission
has not followed a plan of building
the highway continuously, but has
cut the road into sections and caused
work to be under way in a score of
places at the same time. Because of
this programme there are now nu
merous sections which have been com
pleted and accepted by the state and
between these links are unpaved
gaps, which are to be finished as rap
idly as conditions warrant Work on
the highway has proceeded In half a
dozen counties simultaneously and in
each of these counties the highway
can be found in its various stages of
development, from the grade protect
ed by a rock surface to a bituminous
Mueh Pavement Finished.
Northbound traffic, starting from
the California line, has an almost un
interupted stretch of pavement to
Grants Pass. From Portland south to
Salem there is pavement save for the
small gap of new grade between Can-
Remainder Graded, With Crushed -Rock Base
T I ... i
by and Aurora. More finished pave
ment is picked up in Lane and Doug
las counties. The present year, 1921,
should witness contracts let for pav
ing mora than half of the rocked
Progress has not been as rapid In
bringing the Pacific highway to com
pletion as could be desired, owing to
natural causes. Because of weather
conditions contractors have had ap
proximately only 70 working days in
a season. The character of the soil
is such that a few days of rain cause
operations to bog down. Battling
against the elements In this fashion
has prevented contractors from push
ing forward their jobs, but despite
these obstacles a remarkable showisg
has been made.
Two more large bridges are to be
constructed on the Pacific highway.
One will span the Willamette river at
Oregon City and the other will cross
the Umpqua river at Myrtle Creek.
Contracts for both of these structures
should, normally, be let during the
ensuing year.
From end to end the Pacific high
way is being made as fool-proof as
the state highway commission can
make it. One of the greatest dangers
to vehicular traffic is found at grade
crossings. The commission is elimi
nating every grade crossing on the
highway. In this task the railroad
company has co-operated. Where
ever possible the highway is built to
avoid crossing railroad tracks, even
when this policy has necessitated the
acquiring of long strips of right-of-
way. When' a highway must cross
tracks, an overhead or underground
crossing has 'been built.
The Pacific highway acts as a main
stem, north and south, west of the
Cascade range and from it radiate a
number of east and west roads, some
In the state highway system
of Oregon there are 390.5 miles
of hard-eurfaced roads, 612.4
miles of macadam and 958 6
miles of arteries tapping rich
farming, dairying and industrial
sections. The sum already spent
or which will be spent under
contracts now let for Oregon
highways is $28,471,195.89.
There are 4317 miles embraced
in the highway system, of which
1961.5 miles have been improved
in recent years. Of the roads
not yet touched by the highway
commision of Oregon, many are
in excellent condition. The fig
ures quoted on paving do not
Include hundreds of miles with
in municipalities of the state.
Traffic Demands Are Proving Very Heavy
I penetrating to the coast and others
I boring across the mountain range into
central Oregon. Wherever there are
natural passes In the coast range or
Cascade mountains, a road swings out
from the Pacific highway to these
From the Pacific highway there
branches a road to Newport and an
other headed toward Florence. This
Florence road will ultimately extend
from the Pacific ocean eastward to
the Pacific highway, thence continu
ing by way of McKenzie pass across
the Cascades into Redmond, connect
ing the Pacific with The Dalles- Cali
fornia highway and becoming, in turn,
the central Oregon highway. From
the Pacif'c highway, striking west
to the coast, Is the Roseburg-Coos Bay
highway, now in course of construc
tion. Also from the Pacific highway
branches the Crater Lake scenic high
way and still another branch leads
off to Klamath Falls and Lakeview.
From the Pacific highway, at Grants
Pass, is to be built a highway to
Crescent City, Cal., replacing the pres
ent road which served the pack trains
of miners in the days of the gold
each cpunty through which it
passes, the Pacific highway is con
nected with the local road systems,
the county roads serving as feeders!
Ul.HHIIIIHt tlll1llllll
o'f freight and traffic. All traffic in
these counties eventually drains into
the Pacific highway, for this highway
serves to connect the markets of
western' Oregon, as well as to pro
vide the most direct route for through
Even In its present Incomplete
state, the Pacific highway has become
a great travel lane. Thousand of
automobile tourists have traversed It
since the work started and each year
has shown a great Increase in this
volume of visitors. Many of the prin
cipal towns along the highway have
sensed the importance of the tourist
and they have established free camp
grounds for the traveler who prefers
camping out to living In a hotel. It
remained for the gasoline shortage
last summer to bring home In con
crete fashion the value of tourist
travel over the Pacific highway. With
the shortage of motor fuel came a
sharp falling off in business in the
hotels and small stores along the
highway and the business did not
show, a revival until the . gasoline
rationing was discontinued.
Truck lines for freight business
have already been established and are
operating on the highway through the
Willamette valley and automobile
busses are now competing with the
steam and electric lines for passenger
The possibilities of the Pacific high
way are materializing rapidly.