Mr. CURTIN. I am coming to it. The only answer that appears to me is to widen the road.
The SECRETARY. Which one do you think you ought to widen?
Mr. CURTIN. You, no doubt, all know there is a bill pending for the construction of a road which would leave you go up into Lake Tahoe, and then go into Oregon and Nevada. Owing to that fact and the fact that it is the one road that reaches over 1,370,000 people, that would be the logical one.
The SECRETARY. Who owns that road?
Mr. CURTIN. The Big Oak Flat and the Yosemite Turnpike Road Co.
The SECRETARY. You say it could be widened?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Who will widen it?
Mr. CURTIN. The men who constructed it originally advised me that it cost only a few thousand dollars to construct that road, and said that $6,000 will widen it. That money will be forthcoming if you open the road.
The SECRETARY. That will be a toll road?
Mr. CURTIN. At the present time toll is charged only to Crane Flat. Crane Flat is only one-half mile from the park line.
The SECRETARY. Will the people be willing to consent to conditions we have just discussed?
Mr. CURTIN. I think so.
The SECRETARY. Will you find out and let me know?
Mr. CURTIN. The president is here.
The SECRETARY. Have you, or has he, had an engineer examine that road? You spoke of the man who built that road—you mean the contractor?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Where would that road enter the valley?
Mr. CURTIN. Over the Big Oak Flat Road, where it is now.
The SECRETARY. Where would it come out?
Mr. CURTIN. Down to Big Oak Flat—down to Chinese Camp and that way to San Francisco.
The SECRETARY. I have been on the Big Oak Flat Road. You would go by that road to get out—you go back up to the rim of the valley by the road we came in?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Go right out on the top?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes; right out on the rim and out by Crane Flat.
The SECRETARY. The company has authorized the plan of changing that road when the time arrives and the permission be granted?
Mr. CURTIN. What the cost is I don't know, but they are prepared immediately to carry that work forward.
The SECRETARY. $6,000 would not build many retaining walls.
Mr. CURTIN. I only took the man's word that built the road.
The SECRETARY. Do you know that those suggestions are practical?
Mr. CURTIN. Most assuredly.
The SECRETARY. When was it built?
Mr. CURTIN. About 1874.
The SECRETARY. What are the differences in the cost of labor and material between 1874 and now?
Mr. CURTIN. It has increased considerably, but we are allowing considerable when you consider that the original road is already constructed.
The SECRETARY. In other words, then, if we should look into your suggestion as to that road, we would have to have our own roads?
Senator FLINT. Our engineer's report covers this very road. Twenty-five thousand dollars is his estimate.
Mr. CURTIN. The Big Oak Flat Co. stands ready, if the road be opened for the automobiles, to close up all the horse traffic on that road and allow it exclusively for automobile, if you so desire.
The SECRETARY. You think it would be desirable?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir; I think so. Because when you reach Crane Flat in only 4 miles more you strike the Coulterville Road and come right down from El Portal.
The SECRETARY. The Coulterville Road is the road we saw coming up the valley? I was told by an expert horseman the other day that he hesitated to go over it, and that while he had gone over it, he never went over it without finding a considerable number of bowlders there that had not been there the last time.
Mr. CURTIN. I understand in recent years they have not expended much money on that road. I understand the owners of the Coulterville Road have expended but very little money on that road.
The SECRETARY. Have you taken up the question with them as to whether they would loosen up now?
Mr. CURTIN. I understand they would have to loosen up.
The SECRETARY. Do you think they would have to put that road in shape just because you want a road there?
Mr. CURTIN. Why, in self-interest they certainly would—
The SECRETARY. You think the return would be adequate? Haven't you got the horse away behind the cart? What I want to know is what you think I can do and ought to do?
Mr. CURTIN. That is the point. If a road is opened, I would imagine it a matter to name the conditions and see if we can—
The SECRETARY. We have not gone that far. What do you think the conditions are that we have to name?
Mr. CURTIN. Open the road and tell us how we have to use it.
The SECRETARY. That is the same thing—that is certainly not an answer.
Mr. CURTIN. I am unable to say anything further than to say that if the Big Oak Flat Road is opened, we will widen it. We will go further, we will help the United States and we will take care of our own road ourselves.
The SECRETARY. I have asked you whether you would submit to regulations.
Mr. CURTIN. I will cheerfully take that matter up and forward it to you.
The Big Oak Flat Road Co. has not charged any toll beyond Crane Flat.
That is where this road turns off and goes down. To that point the Big Oak Flat Co. charges no toll, and many conveyances come up that way. They come as far as Crane Flat, then go down and strike the Coulterville Road. Some of them go out that far to avoid the toll on the Oak Flat Road. We would go further—we would put a telephone line and have a man there to keep advised all the time.
The SECRETARY. That is so you could warn the horse-drawn vehicle?
Mr. CURTIN. I think they should be excluded altogether.
The SECRETARY. If there was an alternative road?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir. If there was any danger of meeting an automobile to exclude him altogether.
The SECRETARY. Do these suggestions you make involve the expenditure of money on any parts of the road that are not owned by a private individual?
Mr. CURTIN. Well, the Government still claims jurisdiction of the road to the old State line, but exercises no jurisdiction from there to the park line, however.
The SECRETARY. That would leave how much road to be taken care of by the Government?
Mr. CURTIN. Four miles from that point.
The SECRETARY. How do you suggest you get the money for that?
Mr. CURTIN. We have already got it.
The SECRETARY. You mean in the appropriation made this year?
Mr. CURTIN. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. How is that? Is that money available for that purpose?
Mr. CURTIN. Our understanding is that $50,000 was available. I took an active part, Mr. Secretary, in the proposition of urging Congress to appropriate funds upon the assumption, which I had a right to believe, that part of it would be used to widen the road.
The SECRETARY. Now, the colonel has made his estimates of expenditures.
Col. FORSYTH. There was no estimate made for widening the road for automobiles. The appropriation of $80,000 is for the protection and improvement of the Yosemite National Park. The amount of the estimate was something like $300,000.
The SECRETARY. That is so. You made an estimate of needed appropriations here aggregating $300,000?
Col. FORSYTH. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. We got $80,000.
Col. FORSYTH. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. That is for the whole purpose?
Col. FORSYTH. Yes, sir; if we take any portion of that money to widen any of these roads for automobile purposes we will have to take it away from some other purposes.
Mr. CURTIN. We doubt if that other $30,000 would have been given at all without our effort. If there is anything further that I may add, I should be glad to do so.
The SECRETARY. I understand, Senator, that it is, of course, within our power to divert the money from any of the purposes that is needed if the situation demands it. We can not do that except upon a thorough consideration of the whole question.
Mr. CURTIN. That was our aim—to get that $30,000.
The SECRETARY. I find it valuable to have different gentlemen with different aims all boost the appropriation.
Mr. CURTIN. I think I did my part. I had the privilege of one hour and a half, and during that hour and a half I tell you I labored for the Yosemite Valley and the Yosemite National Park.
The SECRETARY. I think that is correct.
Mr. CURTIN. Anything further?
The SECRETARY. Who is the third speaker?
Mr. C. I. MENTZER. Mr. Secretary, it seems that on this occasion each man is his own press agent. That seems to be characteristic of the year.
The SECRETARY. Whom do you represent?
Mr. MENTZER. I represent Merced and Mariposa Counties, and particularly the Coulterville Road, the one which seems to have called forth criticism.
The SECRETARY. In what way do you represent it?
Mr. MENTZER. It is a public highway, and that is our contention, and we ask that it be opened up for the use of the public—not that there is to be a toll charged for the traveling public.
The SECRETARY. That road has been an open road, a public road, as I gather from your remarks?
Mr. MENTZER. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. We were of the impression it was also a toll road.
Mr. MENTZER. The supervisors exercise jurisdiction over that road—the old toll road.
The SECRETARY. Is it conceded by the private interests there that it is a public road—that they have no claim?
Mr. MENTZER. For four years the county of Mariposa has exercised positive jurisdiction over the road. Mrs. McLean has the only surviving interest, and she has made no effort at all toward looking after and establishing any claim she may have had in the matter. The board of supervisors has passed a resolution—passed the necessary ordinances—what they conceive necessary to make it a public highway, and they have exercised the jurisdiction necessary under the laws of the State, and the road has become a public highway by adoption and use. A toll road, under the laws of California, may become a public highway by nonpayment of license or by abandonment. For four years there has been nothing done by the owners—there has been an apparent abandonment by those who may have any interest in the road.
The SECRETARY. There has been some correspondence on that subject.
SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., October 5, 1912.
Maj. W. FORSYTHE, Yosemite Valley, Cal.
DEAR SIR: As the owner of the toll road known as the Coulterville Road, this company begs to notify you that various articles have recently appeared in the San Francisco newspapers to the effect that it is proposed to turn the Coulterville Road over to the owners of automobiles to be used by them free of tolls, inasmuch as the road has been abandoned by the owner.
We beg leave to say that this company is the owner of the toll road from Hazel Green to the border line of the old State Park, and also from Hazel Green to Crane Flat. This road passes through the Merced Grove of Big Trees. This road has never been abandoned and it is the intention of this company to operate the same as a toll road and to collect tolls therefrom.
We would thank you to inform the proper authorities at the proposed conference soon to be held in regard to this matter that this company has decided objections to permitting its property to be taken away from it and turned over to the public for free use.
COULTERVILLE & YOSEMITE TURNPIKE Co.,
By MARY HELEN MCLEAN, President.
1423 WILLOW STREET,
Alameda, October 9, 1912.
Maj. W. W. FORSYTHE, Yosemite Valley.
DEAR SIR: In explanation of the accompanying letter I would like to remind you of something which I told you at a conversation in your office. The Macauleys would not pay their toll at the tollhouse, and when I remonstrated with them, told me to come and collect it. Not only this, but they told campers how to get by the tollgate by going through their place. Their toll would have more than paid the taxes and license, and had they paid what was due, I could have kept the road in good shape. The Y. T. Co. has regularly paid the amount agreed on for its use of the road. I have never abandoned the road nor given it up, but have complied with the law as far as I knew it and was able.
My father, Dr. John T. McLean, put more than a hundred thousand dollars in that road, and could I realize something from it, it would be a great blessing, as my own savings were used in caring for him during his last long and painful illness. I have no one on whom I can depend but myself and nothing to look forward to except hard work unless I can realize something from this road, which I would be willing to sell at a reasonable price.
I hope you are well, and that you have continued to find Yosemite as delightful a place of residence as you anticipated.
(Miss) MARY HELEN MCLEAN.
Mr. MENTZER. Mr. Secretary, it is apparent from the reading of the communication that the McLeans still claim some interest that may raise a question of law and one that will be disposed of by Mariposa County. It has exercised jurisdiction over that road. It has kept the road under improvement its full length for the last four years.
The SECRETARY. Right into the valley?
Mr. MENTZER. My information is right into the valley. All the work that has been done on the Coulterville Road has been done by the board of supervisors of the county and of that district.
The SECRETARY. Has there been any work done on that road, Colonel?
Col. FORSYTH. Not that I have been able to discover.
The SECRETARY. Has there been any, Mr. Mentzer?
Mr. MENTZER. Yes, sir. This last year.
The SECRETARY. What work was done?
Mr. MENTZER. Something like $75 was expended.
The SECRETARY. On what length of road?
Mr. MENTZER. About a mile on the grade into the valley. On the other portion there was something like $400.
The SECRETARY. On the important part, the slope down into the valley, there was something like $75 expended?
Mr. MENTZER. Yes; this last season.
The SECRETARY. What do you think of the expenditure of $75 on that road as being the basis of any claim of exercising jurisdiction over the road?
Mr. MENTZER. In the last four years there has been money expended on it.
The SECRETARY. What is the total amount that has been expended on the part which Mrs. McLean claims in her letter?
Mr. MENTZER. Averaging about $300 yearly for four years.
The SECRETARY. For a distance of about what?
Mr. MENTZER. About 13 miles—that is, on the old toll road that she claims. As far as the Coulterville Road is concerned, I say to you that it is as smooth as any road in the valley—absolutely no question about it. The width can be enlarged without any considerable expense, and the road may be enlarged by the simple use of a road grader in many in stances.
The SECRETARY. Has any estimate been made as to the cost?
Mr. MENTZER. This is an estimate made from personal observation, and I give it for what it is worth. Mr. March estimates that by the expenditure of $5,000 from the point where it commences to be a toll road near Bower Cave to the rim of the valley here, that the road can be put in a very passable condition. As far as the grades are concerned from Bower Cave to the rim of the valley there is nothing to interfere in any way with the use of an automobile. The road is as smooth as anything here in the valley. It seems to have been the first road traveled by an automobile in the past. Years ago a photographer made the trip into the edge of the valley and he got in and out through that road, Mr. Secretary.
The SECRETARY. I congratulate him.
Mr. MENTZER. As far as that road is concerned, if you want any information in the way of engineering data, we will present it to you. The engineer we have that was going over the matter was called away—the county surveyor of Merced County. There has been some mention made about the expenditure of money looking forward to the opening up of a road and a report made by a commission, which you are familiar with. Upon investigation of that report—it was made in 1900 by the commissioner that was appointed by the Secretary of War for that particular purpose—there was a recommendation about a new road, and that new road will come sooner or later. It is going to come. We are going in the right direction when we ask for the Coulterville Road. We may assure you of the fact that there is no danger in going that way. The Yosemite Transportation Co. will put on auto stages or auto trucks to carry the people from El Portal into this valley and get them here in an hour and a half.
The SECRETARY. Aren't we getting our wires crossed? You don't agree with the Senator?
Mr. MENTZER. Of course not.
The SECRETARY. How would you take care of the horses if we put these auto trucks on the Coulterville Road?
Mr. MENTZER. The only horse-drawn vehicles that go over that road now, practically, are the stage coaches from here to El Portal. There has only been one horse-drawn vehicle over the Coulterville Road this summer.
The SECRETARY. I am not surprised to hear you say it.
Mr. MENTZER. The only way is to take you over the road and assure you, so far as the travel is concerned, there will be no injurious results.
The SECRETARY. The report of our engineers is that that road could not be used without some considerable expenditure.
Mr. MENTZER. That is to be used jointly by horse-drawn vehicles and the auto?
The SECRETARY. I assume that if we should eliminate the horse from the valley and let the automobile take its place, if we opened it up to-morrow a certain number of automobiles would begin to pile in over the rim.
Mr. MENTZER. I understand there is private property at that point. If you desire any data from an engineering standpoint along those lines, we will present it. The proper way out of the valley is along the river. In this same report made a few years ago the cost of the road would not exceed $135,000. That carries it directly into Merced County, where the roads are good, and will connect directly with the State highways. The proposed road for 75 miles will not exceed a 2 per cent grade.
The SECRETARY. That is a matter for the State and Federal Governments.
Mr. MENTZER. The State is beginning to loosen up already, and, as you suggested, there is one man in attendance here who could speak for the Federal Government, as it were.
The SECRETARY. Don't speak to Congressman Raker here. What you have to do is to furnish him with ammunition.
The SECRETARY. There was a third representative elected to speak for the automobilists.
Col. WEINSTOCK. We finally decided, Mr. Secretary, that we probably would achieve better results if we set aside our conflicting views and harmonized, and we did. We made up a program.
The SECRETARY. I judged that was what it was.
Col. WEINSTOCK. In doing so we discovered we were reckoning without our host, because no sooner did we submit the program than you tore it to pieces in about two minutes. Under the circumstances, then, the members of the committee who had prepared themselves with a magnificent array of pyrotechnics find they will have to leave them piled up or carry them away and inflict them upon some more susceptible person. Accordingly Senator Flint changed his attitude and point of view. The Senator came with some very excellent constructive suggestions. Senator Curtin likewise came with constructive suggestions. I am not prepared to submit any constructive suggestions. I am a practical man along these lines. I therefore call upon Mr. Walker, president of the automobile association, and also upon Mr. Mordecai, who represents the central part of the State, and who likewise, I hope, will be able to give you suggestions that will be helpful.
The SECRETARY. We will be glad to hear from Mr. Walker.
Mr. WALKER. Mr. Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, like the portly gentleman who preceded me some time ago I am extremely nervous, and my nervousness covered such a period of time that I was not able to write so it would be legible; therefore what remarks I make will be, in a measure, disconnected.
Early in this fight for the admission of automobiles to the Yosemite Valley I began to look about for some tangible and practical means of overcoming what was apparent to me as an almost insurmountable objection on the part of many people toward the admission of automobiles to the park. Realizing that it was necessary for us to agree on some one proposition we took up the matter of serving the greatest number of people—the greatest number of automobilists—and of getting what we thought the quickest action in the premises; but Senator Flint has already said the largest number of automobilists come from the south. We of the north have never learned the secret of their wizardry in the compilation of statistics, and so I do not hope to compete with him. We agreed to state the situation from the point of the greatest good to the greatest number and from the point of immediate results, and it is the conclusion of the Automobile Club of Northern California that we would very strongly urge the Secretary to consider an immediate opening of the road from Glacier Point, not as a means of ultimately satisfying us entirely, but as a means of relieving the strain or the restraint, rather, that the automobile fraternity may feel now with reference to this valley. Our views are that ultimately, and when in the judgment of the Department of the Interior it seems best, we be permitted to come over in the Big Oak Flat or Coulterville Road and pass through the Wawona Road, or vice versa. Realizing that that is an involved question, and it seems more involved the longer we listen here, I am strongly in favor of placing the California State Automobile Association on record as being satisfied at this time with permission to come first to Glacier Point over a privately owned road under restrictions that the Government may make as to the time of the passage of autos and as to the rate of speed, and, second—
The SECRETARY. How about the toll?
Mr. WALKER. I am unable to offer anything on that inasmuch as it is a proposition involved between yourself and the attorney representing the road company.
The SECRETARY. What I want to know is what you think as an automobilist. Do you think we ought to impose as a condition for carrying out this plan, that the owners of the road should submit to reasonable regulations?
Mr. WALKER. Most certainly. I feel that we should not be left entirely in their hands because of their being in possession of the only suitable road.
The SECRETARY. This road passing over the Federal domain, would we be safe in leaving it with the local authorities of that county, subject to future legal determination, or should we insist that they consent to reasonable regulations by the Department of the Interior?
Mr. WALKER. I think the best interests of the automobilists are in insisting that the Government be taken into consideration in the regulation of rates.
The SECRETARY. You mean the Federal Government?
Mr. WALKER. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Is that one of the roads that Senator Flint has referred to?
Mr. WALKER. It is.
The SECRETARY. How would it come in?
Mr. WALKER. It goes through Wawona.
The SECRETARY. Where do you leave the railroad?
Mr. WALKER. It is many miles from the railroad. We reach the railroad at Raymond. Those from the north would have to come to Merced and cross either to Wawona by way of Mariposa or else go down to Brenda which is midway between Merced and Madera and cross over in that way, going up to Wawona, where we come now by automobile. We go that far at this time. It is not the widest road. It is not the road we ultimately hope to have, but in our club we feel that if we can not get a whole loaf we are willing to take a half loaf.
The SECRETARY. You know the public sentiment. You know the conditions in the valley. What do you think of the question of policy? Do you think it wisdom to go beyond the spot you recommend at this time?
Mr. WALKER. Not without the roads being fixed and after being fixed not without definite regulations as to speed and hours of travel. From some personal experiences I have come to the conclusion that it is a very wise thing to place restrictions as to speed and minimum time elapsement between two points. If the department determines to allow automobiles to go to Fort Monroe or Inspiration Point within a certain time, during which we may be permitted to travel to the floor of the valley, I think as a condition incident to that a minimum time elapsement should be provided and any one negotiating the distance in a shorter time than that called for should be placed under arrest because, if accidents happen, it would tend to give us a black eye, which we are not entitled to.
The SECRETARY. You think that should be done as a protection to the automobilists themselves?
Mr. WALKER. I think, as a matter of safety, it should be done. The question of admission of automobiles to Glacier Point does not, in my judgment, involve very many problems. You don't make any abrupt turns. You don't travel over any road that is at this time dangerous. You travel over a road which, I understand from a report from Lieut. Col. Forsyth, involves only the expenditure of a small amount of money, which perhaps in a few months' time would be available. The stage company has agreed to place that road in condition to meet the general requirements of Col. Forsyth. That being accomplished, there seems to be no reason why we could not have relief from the barrier which is now raised against us in the valley.
The SECRETARY. Now, Senator Flint suggested a road of which there would be two branches—that is, you go from Inspiration Point first?
Mr. WALKER. It is one road to El Capitan. From there there are two branches, one going in the direction of the floor of the valley and passing Inspiration Point and Fort Monroe, the other turning to the rim and going to Glacier Point, making an ascent of some few hundred feet.
The SECRETARY. Do you advocate at this time opening both those forks from Chinquepin?
Mr. WALKER. Not of necessity. The one to Inspiration Point would involve a change in the arrangements of the stage company which they have agreed to make—having stage accommodation to meet the automobiles and come down to the floor of the valley. That involves constructive work which the other does not. The other requires only the passive consent of the Government at this time to allow the automobiles to come in and the expenditure of a thousand dollars, which the stage company has agreed to.
The SECRETARY. You understand the Government has no financial interest in it beyond the protection of the people?
Mr. WALKER. The members of our club will stand behind the Government on the question of any exorbitant rates.
Mr. LOVELL. I will ask Mr. Walker if we did not discuss the rate of $2.50, which has been fixed by the supervisors, and ask him to state now whether that was not agreeable to him; and I want you, Mr. Secretary, to bear in mind that we of course do not care to turn this road entirely over to the automobile people. We have a very large plant—
The SECRETARY. That is one of the reasons why I think we have got to regulate it.
Mr. WALKER. Mr. Secretary, Mr. Lovell is attorney for the Yosemite Stage & Turnpike Co., and we have had considerable discussion on this subject. I consider that the toll is reasonable, provided it carried with it a provision for making the Big Trees, and I think that possibly they may agree to that. The reason I have singled out Glacier Point and that part of the road is that the idea of the greatest good to the greatest number carries with it the idea of going to the Big Trees. There are many people as much interested in viewing the Big Trees as there are of going to the valley. We will go to the Big Trees and see the valley. Many people will go to the valley as possibly you and I have gone to points of interest and have been busy, and we only wanted one glance at it, and this glance we may get is from Glacier Point and from Inspiration Point—either one of those and on this road we will have accomplished both those points. Now, the matter of getting to Inspiration Point is somewhat more involved than the one to Glacier Point. I am willing to say that our club will be very glad to accept the opening of this road to Glacier Point. The situation seems involved—the Government does not move very rapidly. It is only a matter of a small expenditure to put the roads in shape so that those in charge of the work would be willing to trust automobiles over it indiscriminately and in the interim.
The SECRETARY. Mr. Walker, I understand your position to be, as you expressed it to me, that as conditions are you think it would not be wise to admit machines to the floor of the valley.
Mr. WALKER. Not to the floor.
The SECRETARY. You think we ought, as promptly as possible, to open the way to Glacier Point?
Mr. WALKER. I am brought to that conclusion by the situation which presented itself some years ago in the city of San Francisco. We have quite a beautiful park there. For a long time the commissioners there absolutely refused the admission of automobiles to the park. We made a strong fight and we didn't get anywhere. Finally we asked that we be permitted to use one drive. We were permitted to do it. One by one we were given the roadways of the park until to-day the larger per cent of vehicles coming in the park are motor vehicles. I think that will be the result in this case if we are permitted to come to Glacier Point. We will be able to demonstrate to the lieutenant colonel, or whoever is in charge, and whom I feel, perhaps, from his remarks, is unduly apprehensive of danger in the operation of automobiles, I believe we will be able to convince him that it is not quite the bugbear that it seems and that there is a very sane and practical solution of the question, in placing a minimum time limit and negotiating the exact distance, fixing certain hours for travel, which do not trouble the stage company.
The SECRETARY. There are a lot of minor matters—
Mr. WALKER. That is a restriction that is placed on cars in many of the cities in this State, and there would be no objection.
The SECRETARY. I think, Mr. Walker, you have been very frank and candid, and I will give your suggestion very careful consideration.
Mr. MORDECAI. As I remarked last night at the meeting, I was requested to come here by the Madera Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of furthering the interests of the Wawona Road into the valley or to the rim of the valley. Now, the old stage road from Madera to Wawona has been traveled a great number of years. I am familiar with the history of it, in fact, familiar with the history of the whole of that country for the past 40 years. I came over all these trails on horseback and came into this valley horseback 40 years ago down this trail we have been discussing here to-day, on the rim of the valley, on the Wawona Road. Now, the history of the stage road from Madera to Wawona is that it was adopted by the Yosemite Stage & Turnpike Co. as the most feasible and practical road to Wawona and has been from that time continuously used in that respect; has been used in that connection ever since, not only for stages, but in the evolution of travel it is now used successfully and safely by automobiles as far as Wawona.
Now, the question as I understand it, Mr. Secretary, presents itself here to us, as to which is the best road to come to the rim of the valley. I do not advocate, at this time, going to the floor of the valley at all with automobiles. The question as to which is the best road in every respect, in every regard—convenience, safety, grade, scenic beauty—all those matters which should be considered in a matter of this kind, which is proposed for the convenience of tourists more than any other object. Now, it seems to me that the idea that has been advanced here of this grand loop embracing the Wawona Road coming into the valley and going out over the Big Oak Flat grade is a grand proposition, and no doubt will ultimately come to pass, but, Mr. Secretary, I should respectfully suggest that at this time we are not prepared for a proposition so large as that. I do not think that the Government is prepared to build roads from the floor of the valley up to meet those various points of interest, and taking all considerations together—the present conditions which actually eliminate any passage of automobiles from the rim of the valley down to the floor—it seems to me that the best thing that can be obtained, the best object to be attained, the best for the whole country, is the proposition to bring this road from Wawona to Glacier Point.
The SECRETARY. The suggestion made by Mr. Walker?
Mr. MORDECAI. Yes, sir. Now, as to the constructive possibilities of these roads, I am not prepared to give any data at this time, and I do not think it is necessary in view of the fact of the exhaustive report that Mr. Flint and his engineer have made here to-day. They have covered the whole question so far as I can see, and there is nothing for me to argue on at all. The only thing I should like would be that this road would bring us by the Big Trees and along the best scenic route to Wawona, to the best point of view over this valley. And in that regard it far surpasses any other road which comes to the rim of the valley. That is the point I would make, and in arguing in behalf of these roads that, I think, is an essential point. It is not only a question of grade, not only a question of expenditure of money, but it is a question as to which route will display the great beauties in any of these roads. That is one of the great questions, I think, as much as the expenditure and the grade, and for that I am heartily in favor of letting the matter stop at that, so far as the interests of my community are concerned; let us advocate the opening of this road to Glacier Point and let the matter rest at that.
Mr. SECRETARY. We seem to be approaching a degree of unanimity which is gratifying.
Mr. MATSON. On behalf of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, we people of the South, in coming to this conference, came prepared to give you facts and figures, and you have received them—
The SECRETARY. That is, we are going to receive them.
Mr. MATSON. You shall have them in written form, and we are further prepared to back our documents up with the presence of our engineer, whose services we have tendered the Secretary of the Interior, in order that he may give him facts and figures. The gentleman who just spoke and Mr. Walker, also, I want to take issue with them on this trip to Glacier Point. Gentlemen, you have strayed away from the proposition which the railroad man put up just a little while ago. Why don't they bring more people into the Yosemite Valley? Because you have not the accommodations for them. Are you going to improve conditions by bringing them up to Glacier Point, leaving your people, giving them a bird's-eye view of the valley? Where is your capital coming from? Look at it from a broad point of view, neither of the gasoline-propelled vehicle or the coal-burning. Leave both out. Look at it from the standpoint of the crop that Senator Flint spoke of awhile ago—the biggest crop the world has. You want that $400,000,000. I tell you, we people of Los Angeles demand your respect. We do not ask it, we do not crave it, we demand it. We have shown you how to keep the $400,000,000 in the United States. We have developed a country a few years ago a desert, and we have brought money from all over the globe in the development of that country, because we have an attractive spot. We have gone 250 miles into the mountains to get water. We have played an important part in building State highways.
Therefore, I ask that special consideration be given the proposition—the relation of the trip to the Yosemite and tourist travel. We are not going to satisfy the tourist travel—there is not a man here who is going to be satisfied to drive his machine, who wants to come to the Yosemite, who is going to be satisfied to drive his machine to Glacier Point and then come down the trail with a burro. The report of our engineer is feasible. I believe you can easily be convinced of the fact that it is a good plan for permitting those machines to come into Wawona, up to Chinquapin, visit Glacier Point, and from Chinquapin down to Inspiration Point. If, in the judgment of those in charge of the park, it is too dangerous for machines to enter the valley, I would accept the modification of allowing the machines to stop at Inspiration Point; but I do believe that we are reasonable in asking that an hour—2 hours out of 24; 2 out of the 16 of daylight during the season—be allotted to the machine to come into the valley. Senator Flint very frankly told you, without conference with any of the delegations from the South, that he wouldn't want to see the automobile running at large over the valley. Neither would I. I feel that the State of California owns this park, when you come down to it, and the State of California did a great and noble thing in turning it over to the Government to save its possible absorption by private interests. I believe we are entitled to some consideration. We want the Government of the United States to recognize the fact that we are going to use this park not in an improper manner, but we are going to develop this asset for the benefit of all people.
As Senator Curtin said last night, a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and we are not trying to drive the horses out of the Yosemite Valley. We are trying to make it possible for people to get in here. We can't induce our good friend Frank Miller to come in and put up a good hotel if he thought the automobile would be on top of the hill. You can't expect the railroads to give better service or better rates under the present conditions; but if you give the people consideration we would double, treble, and quadruple the traffic to this park.
The SECRETARY. We don't admit any automobiles to the Yellowstone. Mr. Child runs some very considerable hotels in the Yellowstone without any automobiles coming in the park.
Mr. MATSON. How many automobiles are there in that district? There are 8,000. We have 85,000 within reach of this park of our own, and we told you this morning we had 50,000 visiting.
The SECRETARY. That doesn't answer me at all.
Mr. MATSON. I say there are 8,000 within reasonable reach of the Yellowstone, and I tell you we have 85,000 of our own and 50,000 visiting machines, a total of 135,000 automobiles within the confines of the State of California within reach of this park.
The SECRETARY. You said that Mr. Miller, as an illustration, would not put up a hotel unless he got the automobile travel.
Mr. MATSON. No; I say that any investor—do not misunderstand my statement. I said that an investor would hesitate to put his money in a concession here in the floor of this valley if a large percentage of the travel that would use that concession were denied access excepting by burro to the valley.
The SECRETARY. That is another story.
Mr. MATSON. That would diminish the railroad travel and not increase the railroad travel. I went back, Mr. Secretary, to the line of argument followed by Mr. Fee and Mr. Burns—the railroad questions here to-day—because, I say, it has a very important relation. We have a community of interest, and we want to protect their interests as well as our own. I wish to give you just one more little thing here. During the winter our average number of inquiries at the Automobile Club of Southern California, our headquarters, are 20 per day concerning the Yosemite Valley, and approximately 3 of the 20 have come to the Yosemite by reason of the restrictions. Now, those inquiries are from the tourist element and would benefit any community through which they pass in reaching this valley, and there is only that small percentage, approximately 15 per cent, 14 and a fraction per cent, of the inquirers come to the valley. I believe that a percentage of that kind is entirely out of all proportion.
The SECRETARY. You think there would be a definite advantage in the way of giving increased access to the public and in that way benefit the hotel or other concessions in the park if at that point on the rim where the automobile is admitted there was afforded access to the valley and that that access certainly could be furnished by conveyance—stage or horse-drawn conveyance—and that, if practicable, the automobile itself should be permitted to come as far as the hotel, that is, using one road to the hotel and not going about in the valley. Was that at certain hours of the day, as Senator Flint has suggested?
Mr. MCSTAY. Yes, sir; that is the point, with one addition, perhaps. If, in the judgment of the Secretary and those in charge of the park, the present road is absolutely unsafe from Inspiration Point to the valley, that the road to Inspiration Point be opened with the understanding that the road to the valley be opened as soon as the wherewithal can be furnished.
The SECRETARY. That last provision is so controlling and important that you can omit the "if." Let us get the wherewithal.
Mr. MCSTAY. We will help you if you will make the recommendation about the building of that road; we will help you get the wherewithal. I believe, beyond a question of doubt, that we can get the appropriation through Congress. I know that the automobilists of California are sufficiently interested, and I know we can secure the cooperation of the automobile clubs throughout the United States on that proposition. I pledge you the support of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The SECRETARY. Let us get that clear. I am thoroughly in favor of the proposition that the automobilists, if admitted to the rim of the valley, ought to be afforded a feasible means of going on, so that they will not have to go back the way they came in.
Mr. HAWKINS. Mr. Secretary, I should like to tell you how I think this can be done now under your present conditions.
The SECRETARY. Please tell us something about your knowledge.
Mr. HAWKINS. I have been in the motor-car business as western manager for the White Motor Car Co., who manufacture motor-car trucks.
The SECRETARY. How familiar are you with the condition here.
Mr. HAWKINS. I have been studying this a number of years. I have been in a number of times. I have come in on one road—I am not familiar with any but the Big Oak Flat Road. I have recently, however, worked out a number of similar transportation problems for traffic people. I have recently worked out a transportation problem jointly with horses and motor trucks for the Midway & San Pedro Oil Pipe Line, running some 300 miles through southern California, under similar conditions, where there was but one road—a narrow road through the mountains under dangerous conditions—and I won't take a minute of your time, simply to point out what seems to have been overlooked, that the road I came in over, with the exception of about 3 miles from the bed of the valley up to the rim, is a perfectly safe road for horse and automobile to go on because the passing places are frequent. There are narrow places, but passing places are sufficiently frequent that the automobile can back up or go by without any more danger than anywhere. From the rim, for 3 miles up, is, I think, a very dangerous road.
My recommendation is that inasmuch as it is about a two hours' haul for a team for the 3 miles, allowing liberally; that you let your teams go over the road from one end, starting your automobiles first, the faster vehicles first, and the slower ones afterwards, carry those vehicles to the top to the safety point, during certain hours; then stop the traffic in that direction for two hours and let the traffic come in the other direction for two hours.
The SECRETARY. Let us put that into the hours of the day.
Mr. HAWKINS. But confining it to daylight, say, at 8 o'clock in the morning.
The SECRETARY. At 8 in the morning you would permit the automobile to go up or down this road either way?
Mr. HAWKINS. No, sir; let us say they are permitted to start from here to go up at 8 o'clock in the morning.
The SECRETARY. During what period can they start?
Mr. HAWKINS. I should say during a period not to exceed 20 minutes.
The SECRETARY. That is to say all automobiles should be there at 8 o'clock and should be off by half past 8.
Mr. HAWKINS. I would say that when they are gone the horses follow. Then, that no automobile or horse that appears there 10 minutes later should start for another two hours.
The SECRETARY. Take the horse-drawn vehicles, they are going to start at half past 8.
Mr. HAWKINS. The machines start first; that is what I said. Automobiles to start between 8 and 20 minutes after and allow horses to start 10 minutes after. My proposition of 20 minutes was from 10 minutes before to 10 minutes after.
The SECRETARY. It is not necessary to agree on the exact time. I want an illustration. In the 20 minutes between, 10 before and 10 after, you would start the automobiles?
Mr. HAWKINS. Yes.
The SECRETARY. After that for what period of time would you start horses?
Mr. HAWKINS. For another 20 minutes. Let them be there or wait another 20 hours.
The SECRETARY. We wouldn't start very many in that 20 minutes. By half past 8 they would all be off. You wouldn't let any other vehicles from the bottom of the valley until what time?
Mr. HAWKINS. Until the relay of vehicles from the top of the valley had all reached the bottom.
The SECRETARY. These vehicles at the bottom would be allowed to go to the top before anybody starts down?
Mr. HAWKINS. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. So that that means that from half past 8 to half past 11, no vehicles would start down from the top?
Mr. HAWKINS. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Now then, you would start them down from the top the same way?
Mr. HAWKINS. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. You wouldn't allow any additional vehicles to start from the bottom until they all got up to the top?
Mr. HAWKINS. No, sir.
The SECRETARY. That would mean no horse-drawn vehicles could start from the top until the middle of the afternoon.
Mr. HAWKINS. They would go down fast. Two hours would be sufficient to go down.
The SECRETARY. That would mean, then, if you started at half past 11 they would all be traveling during the middle of the day.
Mr. HAWKINS. The road is passable. They are using it now.
The SECRETARY. But not by a combination of vehicles.
Mr. HAWKINS. The combination does not make any difference. They are going in the same direction, the fast ones before the slow ones.
The SECRETARY. Do you think the automobile can use the same road that a horse-drawn vehicle can?
Mr. HAWKINS. Certainly.
The SECRETARY. Can they use a road with equal safety?
Mr. HAWKINS. I didn't understand you to say—
The SECRETARY. That is what I meant.
Mr. HAWKINS. Where the automobile will go, and it can go comfortably over that road, it is a safer vehicle than a horse-drawn vehicle.
The SECRETARY. There is some difference of opinion on that among engineers. Have you had any experience in engineering? Are you a constructive engineer at all—road construction?
Mr. HAWKINS. No, sir. I am a mechanical engineer. The point I make—this question of motor-car traffic over bad roads—has been a specialty of mine for years in mountains and under these conditions, and I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that the motor car is safer, either as a motor truck or a car.
The SECRETARY. Suppose we send a good, heavy car up this road and something happens to the gear half way up, what is going to happen with the car?
Mr. HAWKINS. The same thing would happen to a horse-drawn vehicle if an axle broke.
The SECRETARY. How often does the thing happen to the one?
Mr. HAWKINS. I should say it probably happens a little more often with the automobile than with horses.
The SECRETARY. A good deal more often.
Mr. HAWKINS. Perhaps so in the hands of the average driver.
The SECRETARY. It would block the entire use of the road—you think we can afford to have the traffic stopped?
Mr. HAWKINS. Temporarily, as they do on a railroad. There is scarcely such a thing as not getting a motor truck out of the way.
The SECRETARY. I have had considerable experience—
Mr. HAWKINS. I have also, but it is not a considerable delay. It temporarily blocks the traffic but it can not be avoided.
The SECRETARY. It can be avoided by first providing proper turnouts.
Mr. HAWKINS. Your breakages in a motor car comes from speed. Drive a motor car at proper speed.
The SECRETARY. Mr. Walker had an accident and there wasn't anything the matter except that the steering gear went wrong. It sometimes does go wrong.
Mr. HAWKINS. It is largely a matter of speed that breaks your automobile.
The SECRETARY. Not always.
Mr. HAWKINS. But the point I am trying to make clear is that this road or both these roads in and out of here at the present time under proper regulations intelligently applied with speed restrictions, which I would insist upon, can be used—it is the misuse of the road that is dangerous.
The SECRETARY. I am addressing myself to those statements you have made that you think there would only have to be a small amount of work done at a few places where you say it looks dangerous.
Mr. HAWKINS. I don't say they have to do the work on it. You put a railing up there—the man who goes by or the lady who rides by in any vehicle feels more comfortable. It is of no consequence as a matter of safety. If you put on your proper speed restrictions you have no difficulty. It is the misuse of the road that makes it difficult.
The SECRETARY. You say if it looks dangerous just put up a wooden railing that looks like protection but is not any protection. Do you think we ought to fix those points in any other way than by putting up these wooden railings that make it look less dangerous?
Mr. HAWKINS. No, sir.
The SECRETARY. You think that it is all right without?
Mr. HAWKINS. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. And that the turnouts are adequate. You haven't met my proposition of a broken-down machine.
Mr. HAWKINS. You tow it out.
The SECRETARY. Say it breaks down in the middle of the route?
Mr. HAWKINS. Perhaps Col. Forsyth can tell me how many turnouts there are on that road from the floor to the rim.
The SECRETARY. They have got some, but the report has been that they ought to have more.
Mr. HAWKINS. A turn out is a very simple thing at certain intervals and a very inexpensive thing. My opinion is that it is feasible—perfectly feasible at the present—by confining your traffic to one direction at a time. It is perfectly feasible to operate it at the present time without the expenditure of a dollar. I think it can be demonstrated at any time.
Mr. LEHMER. I would like to say on behalf of the Yosemite Transportation Co. that when the time for admitting automobiles onto the floor of the valley comes the transportation company hopes they may have the privilege of operating automobiles and automobile trucks over the El Portal Road.
Mr. HAWKINS. I consider that perfectly feasible.
The SECRETARY. I want a more definite opinion. I want somebody that is able to give a more definite opinion—
Mr. WALKER. If I may be permitted, I would like to go on record in reference to this question. The enthusiastic and able speaker from the South apparently did not get my meaning. My reason for going to Glacier Point is that it is an entering wedge in the matter. It is a means of instilling confidence on the part of departmental authorities and it is a step in the right direction pending the accomplishment of what we want. It is apparent that it requires a congressional appropriation before anything can be done as to coming into the valley to those who look to the utmost safety of everybody; that being apparent, it means a year or more to wait. I believe a solution will be found in permitting automobiles at the opening of next year's season to come to Glacier Point, but it is not my idea that it will ultimately settle the problem, but it is my judgment that at some time we should be permitted to enter the valley, coming in one way and going out the other.
Col. FORSYTH. With every desire to see the means of transportation to the Yosemite Valley increased in every reasonable way and without any desire to throw any obstructions in the paths of the auto people, it occurs to me that the railroad companies connecting with the Yosemite Valley Railroad, companies that certainly are furnishing ninety-seven out of every one hundred dollars that is expended in the interest of improving travel to the Pacific coast and to this valley, should be heard in connection with the proposition to bring autos to the valley or to the rim of the valley. What we need here and what these people desire is A No. 1 hotel accommodations in the floor of this valley. I hold no brief from Mr. Drum, the president of the Yosemite Valley Road, nor am I authorized to speak for Mr. Lehmer, but I am speaking for the railroads back and connecting directly with the Yosemite Valley Road that are putting forth special efforts to increase this travel, but it does occur to me, whether it be Mr. Miller or some other gentleman engaged in the hotel business, may be induced to come here and put in a first-class hotel; that unless simultaneously with automobile travel to the rim of the valley auto service is established between El Portal and the Sentinel Hotel, the building or construction of a suitable hotel in the Yosemite Valley is likely to be postponed a considerable time.
Mr. NELSON. I am in a position to answer several questions that have been asked. It has been my good fortune to have made two automobile trips into this valley. I have been over every road in the valley for the past 19 years. This road coming down into the valley, the Big Oak Flat Road, I traveled in an automobile in 1903, again in 1906. I found it perfectly safe, and there is not a road going in or out of this valley that is not as safe as 40 roads I could put you on within a few miles of San Francisco under similar conditions, just as narrow, just as steep, and there is no trouble going over them whatever. You never hear of anything. There could be no blockade on this road. You have three methods of getting out of the valley. If one road was wiped out entirely, you have the others. The part of this road you seem to think would be of serious importance is not traveled by horse-drawn vehicles at all.
You want to get out under the head of new business. They have been asking why it is the railroad travel has diminished. They know, and you know, and I know, it has diminished because the people who have been spending their money traveling are traveling in automobiles, and the records show it. As conditions have changed, why not meet those conditions and allow us the privilege of driving into the valley? You won't find one automobile man in a hundred that wants to go back over the same road.
The SECRETARY. You heard what I said. We don't want to argue the question.
Mr. NELSON. No; but you asked the question whether they considered this road a safe one. I am in a position to answer it is safe as it is at present, and especially if it should be traversed with a time schedule, as suggested by Mr. Hawkins, as I have been over the road.
The SECRETARY. Has anyone else got anything affirmative to contribute that has not been discussed? Perhaps, Col. Forsyth, you want to say something on that subject.
Col. FORSYTH. As I am probably the one that will enforce any automobile restrictive measures in case they come in under restriction, I am very much interested in it. I don't know anybody that likes riding in an automobile any more than I do. It is the ideal way of traveling. I have been told that the airship surpasses it, but the automobile is good enough for me; so that I have no personal grudge against the automobile. As an official of the Government, and a park official off and on for about 20 years, I have seen from personal experience and presence on the ground that the great majority of visitors to national parks have no idea but that some Government officer sat down at a desk, scratched his head, and wrote out park rules and regulations, and then he scratched his head again, and wrote another.
Now, the park rules and regulations did not grow up that way at all. They were evolved from experience. Some incident happened—some accident happened—some condition arose that made manifest the necessity of one of those rules and regulations; and that is the history of it. Now, I don't know that an automobile ever frightened any team of horses or mules in this park or any other park, but I do know that the bicycle and motor cycle have caused runaways with disastrous results; and if one frightened such teams the other would. It is one of my duties and one of my great responsibilities to see that every reasonable safeguard is thrown around the life and limbs of the public when they come to this park, and I have no desire or any other motive whatever than to see the automobile admitted to the rim of the valley and, perhaps with the experience that may result from that, permit them to cross the lower end of the valley and go from north to south and from south to north across it, provided it can be done without undue risk to those who travel either in the automobile or animal-drawn vehicles. Now, the whole matter it seems hinges on this one point, and it is a matter of opinion—what is the reasonable protection against such risk; and it seems to me that is a question for the engineers.
The SECRETARY. Maj. Cheney, have you anything to say on the engineering question here?
Maj. CHENEY. Well, hardly in an engineering way, Mr. Secretary. Engineers don't like to discuss engineering questions when they have not started in an engineering way. I have only made some little personal observations of the roads. I have been from the floor up to Inspiration Point, and last year I went out to Crane Flat over the Big Oak Flat Road. Not, however, looking at them from a point of view of their use by automobiles. The question was not in my mind at the time and so I have scarcely compiled anything of any material value from that source.
The SECRETARY. You have heard the suggestion here that we have a report of the engineer employed by the Los Angeles people who will prepare and furnish us a statement showing just what he thinks is necessary and we can check that and make our own estimates on it. I suppose, from what you say, you think it would be better to defer any statement with regard to that matter until you have made such examination and report?
Maj. CHENEY. Yes, sir.
The SECRETARY. Well, then, gentlemen, it looks as though the general principles were fairly well agreed—I wouldn't want to say it was unanimous—but I would state my own impression from it that the fundamental question here is an engineering question and it ought to be checked up from an engineering point of view. The engineer from Los Angeles seems to think we ought to spend $25,000 in one case, and he is prepared to make a written report as to just how that ought to be done.
Mr. HAWKINS. May I answer that, sir? There is a considerable delegation here from Los Angeles. I live in San Francisco. I have no criticism of their enthusiasm and their progressiveness. I just want to point out to you that by their method they can come by the northern route, the Big Oak Flat Road, only 24 miles over a great State highway farther than the southern route, but if we from San Francisco must come the southern route to the valley that is a hundred miles farther than the northern route, thereby removing this magnificent park 100 miles farther from San Francisco and very much nearer Los Angeles.
The SECRETARY. The gentlemen would just see that much more of the scenic beauty of this wonderful State, and that extra hundred miles would be traversed in machines now in so short a space of time under the excellent road system you have it would really be a pleasure.
We will now adjourn until 3 o'clock this afternoon