I suspect that many of us who enjoy the two lane roads, and especially their history also enjoy old post card images. I do, and I have hundred, perhaps a thousand. The best ones are usually the real photos referred to as real photo post cards, or just RPPC.
The RPPC below is of the National Parks Highway, Yellowstone Trail, Sunset Highway route east of Snoqualmie Pass, along the shores of Lake Keechelus, a location I now well today. The modern interstate takes the same route, so this roadbed is long gone, but a few of the details are fun to note, in large part because they highlight automobile travel in the “good ole days.”
The photo was taken about 1920, based on the automobiles. Lets say 1922, but perhaps earlier. The road is dirt, maybe gravel, put clearly not paved. It appears well maintained, as should be the case on a major transcontinental route.
Note the dust. Most or many of the cars at this time were still open...soft tops, or rag tops if you wish. They didn't protect their occupants from dust at all. In fact, when I read why drivers chose one route over another in the teens and early twenty’s, it was as often for the dust conditions as it was for other road conditions. As an aside, one reason the Yellowstone Trail, which took a long southern detour in Washington, was often preferred over the National Parks Highway, which was almost a straight shot between the east and west, is because the NPH route was dustier.
Next, look at where the car in the distance is positioned on the roadbed around the curve! You would not wish to meet him coming the other way, and for that matter he would not be in a good position if he had to swerve to the right. Note that the log that supposedly provides some sort of safety barrier has already been displaced. It is a straight, easy, and fast trip right into the lake, which is very deep.
One of the common admonitions that appears in auto club magazines of this period is “Drive to the Right.” I get the impression from reading a lot of them that folks took their half of the road out of the middle. And there were few “white lines.” I would have to look a bit to find out when they came into use, but dirt or gravel roads certainly didn't have them!
Finally, there must have been some “exciting” times on the Yellowstone Trail. Look closely at the several logs on the slope to the lake. Perhaps they were dislodged from the barrier along the roadbed. I count three, and one more that is missing on the curve! Even if the logs down slope were not from the roadbed, look at how the logs are braced.....a couple of stones secure each. No wonder a driver stayed away from that side or the road!
All things considered I prefer to be a student of the old roads than a driver on them!
Keep the Show on the Road!