Historic Hood River
In 1935 Mark Nichols was living in Yakima, WA. He invented the “truck tractor” which allowed you to convert an old truck into something like a tractor. According to Rodger Nichols, “He made and sold a few of these.” I think it’s a great example of the inventiveness of folks in agricultural communities who have always needed to figure out how to do more, better, faster, or with less effort.
My great-grandfather had what you might call “the first small truck” in Hood River County. He took his old car to Zidell's in Portland. They cut the back seat portion off and put a flat bed on it, so he could haul fruit. My Dad was a little boy, but got to go down the old “prisoner road” with his grandfather and Uncle Bill. He was very excited as he got to stay in a hotel, for the first time, while they waited for the new “truck”, then back up the river on an all day trip to home to show off the new vehicle.
Roger is right about the inventiveness of folks in the agricultural communities. And they definitely were not a throw away society.
Awesome story, Charlotte.
“prisoner road” ? Where/what was that?
Perhaps Charlott is referring to the Lyle Convict Road?
That first road, way up high was built by convicts. That is why, or at least what my Dad said is why it was called “the prisoner road.” Years and years ago you could see portions of it way up high at Shell Rock, but I think it has probably all slid away by now. If one had a drone they could go along and see if they might see anything, but with the freeway beings so you have to zip you don't have time to gaze up there to where it was.
Ah, yes, that's “the Dalles Sandy Wagon Road”:
I don't know that it was built by prison labor, but its replacement at river level around Shellrock Mountain was. It was the first section of the Columbia River Highway in Hood River County, built in 1912.
From the new trail between Starvation Creek and Wyeth you can see several sections of the wagon road, and you can examine them at a leisurely pace. Just look uphill at Shellrock and you'll see the masonry walls which supported the roadbed.
OK now I know. Isn't that the same road area that local men had to shovel free of snow and rocks every spring for getting to Portland? Climbed up that sliding rock slide with my kids when they were quite young, and then walked along east on the mossy carpet until we reach a dead end.
Jeffrey W Bryant
Elbert Vaughan, who used to live in Hood River, developed the Flex-Tred tractor and manufactured it in Portland at his Vaughan Motor Works. It was a small garden tractor. His parents, Cyrus and Martha Vaughan, and siblings lived in Hood River.
He also made the Vaughan Drag Saw.
Note to hikers: The old road on Shellrock Mt. has a lot of poison oak. Also, the trail that traverses up from the freeway to the old road, we in the 70s used to call the Ho Chi Minh trail. Go figure.