Sep. 9th, 2017

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Ever notice that all those travelogues of the future from the early 20th Century ALWAYS shows video phones...but now that we have the technology for that...we don't use it at all?
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Despite Google Maps navigation failing on me miserably, my own idiocy of not doing a historical aerial survey before hand, and a brochure that took me into someone's private driveway, I took a drive on Territorial Road Number 4 - aka the Military Road. Like the Camino Real, it's one of the oldest roads in the area. Unlike the Camino Real, it's really not that long.

The oldest segment of this road, surveyed in 1857 went from Steilacom to either south of Seattle, or to the University of Washington area (the survey was so vague I can't tell if it at the road going to Yestler Mill, or if it stops AT Yestler Mill).

A lot of it still exists on the ground, and is clearly marked. Bits and pieces have been wiped out over the years by freeways overruning it, abandoments that have turned into subdivisions, and the one Military Base on the road (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) closing off a segment as well.

I've always loved actually driving the roads once I've studied the maps. Maps show wierd little divots or route choices that don't make sense until you're on the ground. The Military Road went to Puyallup, but then made a HUGE roundabout detour on it's way to Steilacom. But actually driving it, you notice a HUGE bluff that would have been impossible to go up in the 1860s.

I was sad to see that there was almost nothing to really see of the period. On the Camino Real there are markers every few miles, and the occasional surprise like the Old 300 house outside of Gruene is a great little surprise or the Caddo Mounds. On this trip, nothing from the period, really. An old school, a grocery story. There were two markers I found that talked about anything on the road. The old site of Camp Montgomery had a marker from the 1930s, as did the Military Road itself in Spanaway (There was a Military Road going from Steilacom to Fort Walla Walla? Now THERE'S a mystery to solve).

Steilacom istself is a sleepy little town that's managed to stay a sleepy little town despite nearby Tacoma busying things up. Reminds me of Fairview in Bellingham only even smaller that Fairview.

I plan to do some more research, eventually, nail down that northern terminus of Territorial Road 4, and then look a bit harder for anything still around from the period. I don't think that'll happen, though. Unlike Texas, Washington tends to vacate old alignments for development. But it doesn't hurt to look around. :)

A rough path of The Military Road should you like to try it yourself! Just don't trust Google Maps to navigate you through it correctly....

Northern Segment:
Southern Segment:

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