I live close to the old Pacific Highway, or as you know it, US99. This will deal with just the section between Olympia and Tenino, Washington, near my home.
The old road house and bordello of the 1930’s at the Waldrick Road intersection is looking good, but long closed of course. The red light on the porch has been removed lately. Someone who knew the history of the place was enjoying a joke, I assume.
Someone has logged off the trees along the old narrow gauge rail bed that connected Olympia with the main line in Tenino south of the Waldrick Road intersection, so it is now more visible. The “real” action is taking place on Chain Hill.
As you know, the Pacific Highway here generally followed the old Cowlitz Trail, blazed by the Hudson Bay Company. Going north from Tenino, where old man Meeker placed one of his sandstone Oregon Trail Markers, the old trail, and the Pacific Highway climbed over Chain Hill.
The old road bed is still pretty evident if you know where to look. Just over the crest, the old road split in two and then reconnected, perhaps to control the grade, or because of winter vs summer road conditions. You can almost imagine driving a Model T probably chained up, and perhaps even backing up to keep fuel flowing to the carburetor, climbing the Chain Hill grade.
When you drive that section today, there is a modern cut and fill that would not have been typical in the teens. That cut is slipping so the road is down to one lane.
In Tenino itself, the fellow who peddled hot dogs and bar b que beside the road for many years is gone. But Scotty B’s is going strong, with good burgers, a 1950’s auto ambiance, and the old timers at the counter swapping stories,
I cross the totem pole bridge almost daily into Olympia. For many years this was the south entrance to the city, and beside it sat the Olympic Brewery….its the water! Sadly the famous old Brewery is still up for sale. Here is a post I did ten years ago.
Us 99 Totem Pole Bridge & The Old Brewery - Pacific Highway / U.S
We don’t have all the road construction you describe. That kind of stuff is happening in Seattle, including a tunnel….thank goodness!! I'm looking out my window to our lake, ducks flying by, swallows looking for a place to build their nests, and a bald eagle perched in a tree across the lake. A world away from my days in SoCal and the exciting scenes you describe!
Keep the Show on the Road