UNKNOWN WORLDS

Once in awhile the most interesting adventures happen close to home.  This week included one of those.   

It began because I had a gap of several years in the Highway 99 story.  I knew when the road was built over the Siskiyou Pass, 1915, and I had the story of the maintenance foreman moving into the state owned house in 1939 but nothing between.  No clues showed up in reference books or shared stories. 

I  began my quest seriously, knowing two things: the Transportation Commission was required to make a biennial report and that some of those reports are archived at The University of Oregon in the Knight Library.  There must be a money trail.

Not having been a student at the University of Oregon, I wasn’t familiar with the very large campus but knowing it’s the week when students are gone or in the process of leaving, I decided it was my chance.  My parking space, when I finally found one, was only a mile or so from campus.  Map in hand, I started through the maze of student apartments surrounding the campus buildings.  Amazing what departing students leave on curbs or by overflowing dumpsters.  So much to see and absorb along the way.  I guess I just didn’t have so much stuff when I finished.

Surprising one of the few students still walking through the grounds, I got directions to the entrance of the massive Knight Library building, then from the information desk to the Special Collections Room. 

Very impressive with tall ceilings, walls lined with bookshelves, ornate wall carvings, big tables with a few serious people quietly sorting and reading a variety of materials.    I could have been in Europe, or maybe an old church. 

The businesslike and knowledable woman who helped me said she would be back and left the room for some unknown destination.  I thought about a basement with numbered rooms–a cave wouldn’t have seemed inappropriate.  Eventually a student assistant I’d noticed coming and going returned with a large cart–seven books of biennial reports and four large cardboard boxes.  I didn’t get to the boxes.   I’ll go back next week.

I did find a clue.  In 1926, The Engineer’s report says there are six maintenance patrols in the state and housing for the foreman and helper is provided in isolated areas.  Surely that would include the Siskiyou Mountain.  (At that time the engineer was including only The Pacific Highway, (Highway 99)

I still don’t know where the housing came from.  Did the State Transportation Commission build it?  Move it?  The secret must be in those four cardboard boxes–Next weeks excursion–or one of the excursions.

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