Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crescent City Plank and Turnpike Road

Del Norte County August 22, 1993

One great thing about summers in this part of the northwest are the wild blackberries growing by the roadside. Instant snacks most everywhere you go, and right here by the landmark was perfectly ripe crop.

This is the second plank road covered by these dispatches, the first being the one over the dunes by the Mexican forder in Imperial County some 900 miles away from this spot. The purpose of the use of planks here was similar, in that you’d get stuck in the rubble of a multi-canopied old-growth forest just like you would over desert sand dunes. So, till better equipment came along, planks were a good way to go.

A turnpike generally means they’re going to charge you money to use it. ‘Turnpike’ was the name of some company in England that started the whole business way back in Robin Hood days. When this one was completed they put the toll house at Peacock’s Smith River ferry. A two-horse team paid five dollars, a four-horse team eight dollars, and a six-horse team ten dollars. For some perspective, a pound of coffee back then ran about 50 cents a pound, and a quality hickory work shirt was a dollar.

The photo shows the trellis bridge over Smith River that replaced the ferry. Crossing this swaying bridge was an adventure in itself and going faster that walk brought a fine of $25.    

This was the first road to Del Norte County from anywhere with original investors conjuring up $50,000 in stock to get it rolling. Today, you can now easily hike, drive, and tour what is known as the
Redwood Highway
, much of which is now US 199.  

Plaque inscription: NO. 645 CRESCENT CITY PLANK AND TURNPIKE ROAD - This was the route of the Crescent City Turnpike, constructed in 1858. Following the present
Elk Valley Road
to Old Camp Lincoln, it then crossed the ridge, forded Smith River to Low Divide, and continued to Jacksonville, Oregon by way of various gold camps.
Take Hwy
199 to Parkway Dr, go 1,000 ft to SE corner of Parkway Dr and
Elk Valley Rd
, Crescent City.
Google maps: 41.801519,-124.141206

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