First Auto ever over West End Road

  • Fri Jan 29th, 2016 8:38pm
  • Life

Highway near Forks.

 

These days we think nothing of getting in the car and driving to Port Angeles. Prior to 1914, a trip to Port Angeles meant getting to Clallam Bay, getting on a steamer and it was quite an adventure.

Here is the story of the first road trip ever to Port Angeles. It was also an adventure.

On July 27, 1914, the road out of the West End was almost complete. Charles Sult, proprietor of the Cottage Hotel in Forks, wanted the honor of bringing over the first automobile, an honor that was none to easily earned.

Mr. Sult had been counting for some time on this pleasure and when word came to him at midnight July 27, 1914, that the last section was completed, with the exception of three or four culverts, and would be ready for travel in a day or two at the most, he decided to pull out at once!

Sult grabbed friends Jake Hahn and George Fletcher; a pick and shovel and a few boards and set out just after midnight. The first few miles of the new road were smooth sailing, when the travelers reached the area near the Sol Duc River near Riverside the going got a little rough.

The road was missing some culverts and the trio used 2x12s to cross two of these areas. Hahn ran the auto downhill onto the planks and up again on the other side without a problem. Another missing culvert area was crossed by filling in the trench contractors had dug the day before, (something contractors were not too happy about the next day.)

Filling in the trench took two hours and the men worked up an appetite for breakfast which they enjoyed at Fairholm at 5 a.m. After breakfast, they waited five hours until the arrival of a barge coming up from Piedmont for a cargo of Sol Duc water. (Maybe water from the hot springs?)

The ferry charges were $5, which seemed rather steep to the travelers, in view of the fact that the barge was on a regular and not a special trip for them. The men eventually made it to Port Angles and then made the trip home again.

Sult described the new road as having a splendid roadbed, well graveled, from Beaver to Lake Crescent. Sult also marveled at a six-mile stretch near the Hot Springs Road, describing it as “finely graveled, beautiful and straight as anything he ever saw.”

A few weeks later when the road really was open, Carrie Rixon had a piano brought out from Port Angeles to her home at Sappho — it came through in perfect condition.

Lloyd Taylor of Mora also made the trip early on. He was excited about the fact he made the trip from Sappho to Fairholm in less than 1½ hours, a distance of 20 miles!

So next time you make a trip to Port Angeles for business or pleasure just be glad you don’t need a pick, shovel and boards to make the journey … but grabbing a couple of friends is OK.