Road trip – pioneer styleMar 22nd, 2010 | By Rick@Leonard Family Legends & Legacies | Category: Featured Articles
Those of us of a certain age fondly recall the days of vacation or holiday “road trips.” In the days before the price of gasoline reached triple digits, i.e. when it cost less than a dollar a gallon, it wasn’t unheard of to drive for days on end to reach a particular destination.
Family road trips usually concluded at a relative’s house. Collegiate road trips often had no destination at all other than, uh, the open road.
Road trips came back to me as I read an open letter my great-great-grandfather had written to the local newspaper in 1901. He and his lovely wife had just returned to Iowa after visiting relatives in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Reflecting on my elementary school history lessons, I realized that 1901 was the very year Henry Ford built his first car. Knowing my g-g-grandfather most certainly wasn’t Ford’s first customer and local roads were barely fit for horses, I deduced that my g-g-granparents must’ve traveled by rail.
And so it was that I went off on another tangent and set out to see if I could determine which railroads they might’ve patronized. It turned out to be far easier than I would’ve thought. I found my answers in the handy-dandy Railroad Maps Collection at the Library of Congress. Go ahead. Click it. I’ll wait.
Back already? Very well, then, I can conclude by telling you my g-g-grandparents more than likely took the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy line from Corning, Iowa to Chicago. From there, they could’ve caught the CCC&StL (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis) train to Marion, Ohio and from there taken the Wheeling & Pittsburgh branch of the famous B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) Railroad to Washington County, Pennsylvania. Fascinating, no?
No more fascinating than the letter my g-g-grandfather wrote when he got back, but I’ve spent too much time explaining how my train of thought left its tracks to actually share the letter. Tune in again next week for the nitty-gritty of turn-of-the-century travel.