« AnteriorContinuar »
APPENDIX E E E.
CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT OF ROADS AND BRIDGES IN THE
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.
REPORT OF LAJ. WILLIAJI 1. JONES, CORPS OF ENGLVEERS, OFFICER
IN CHARGE, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR EVDING JUNE 30, 1894.
UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE,
St. Paul, Minn., July 10, 1894. GENERAL: I have the honor to submit herewith my report, in duplicate, of operations for the improvement of Yellowstone National Park during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1894. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. A. JONES,
Major, Corps of Engineers. Brig. Gen. THOMAS L. CASEY,
Chief of Engineers, U. S. A.
The project for this work was adopted in 1883, when the control was placed in the hands of officers of the Corps of Engineers, and consists in the construction and maintenance of about 225 miles of road, with the necessary bridges, culverts, etc. The roads embraced in the project commence at Gardiner, at the north boundary line of the Park, thence to Mammoth Hot Springs; thence to upper Geyser Basin, passing through Norris Geyser and Lower Geyser Basins; thence to the outlet of Yellowstone Lake via Shoshone Lake and the west arm of Yellowstone Lake, crossing the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains twice; thence to Yanceys via the Falls and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River; thence to Mammoth Hot Springs, completing the so-called belt road, with a circuit of about 145 miles. In addi tion, there are projected a road from the west boundary line of the Park, passing through Lower Geyser Basin and continued easterly to intersect the road along the Yellowstone River to the Falls; a road from Norris Geyser Basin to the Falls of the Yellowstone; a road from Yanceys to the cast boundary line of the Park, and a number of short branch roads and trails from the above-namel roads to objects of interest off the main line of travel; in all, 225 miles of new road, about 20 large and 50 small bridges, with many culverts, etc. Estimated cost, as revised in 1889 by my predecessor, 8444,779.42.
The act of Congress approved March 3, 1891, changed the project of the part of the belt line between Lower Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake by requiring the road to be built by the shortest practicable route" from Fountain Geyser to the Thumb of the Yellowstone Lake. This change did not materially affect the cost.
The act of Congress approved August 5, 1892, appropriated $45,000, and provided “that $15,000 of this amount, or so much thereof as may be necessary, may be expended, in the discretion of the Secretary of War, for the construction of a road from the Upper Geyser Basin to a point on Snake River where it crosses the southern boundary of the Park."
Construing this act as the wish of Congress to modify the project by adding thereto some 334 miles of projected road, the estimated cost of my predecessor will be considerably increased.
A new estimate of the cost of completing the project was submitted January 25, 1894.
Total amount expended to June 30, 1893, including outstanding liabilities, $379,779.42.
PROGRESS OF THE WORK.
At the commencement of work upon the project about 160 miles of wagon track had been cleared, over which vehicles could, with difficulty, reach the principal objects of interest in the Park.
This project has now been carried forward to the point that good, graded and well-drained, roads have been substantially completed over the following lines: (1) From the north entrance at Gardiner via Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Basin to
Upper and Lower Geyser basins. (2) From Norris Basin via the Grand Canyou to Yellowstone Lake outlet. (3) From Upper Geyser Basin via the Thumb to Yellowstone Lake outlet.
Total, 127.5 miles. Besides this there have been abandoned the following short stretches for better locations: At Norris At Gibbon
21 Marys Mountain road
22 At Fountain...
11 In addition to the above-mentioned completed mileage, the following mileage of wagon trail (line opened to admit the passage of vehicles, but not graded and but slightly drained) has been in use and kept in toler able repair: Mammoth Hot Springs to east boundary.
52 Lower Firehole to west boundary
33 Total mileage operated .....
212.5 In order that the whole situation may be presented in compact shape I will prelude a recital of the operations for the season of 1893 with a general statement of conditions and project, taken from my report of operations for the month of November, 1892.
A map is submitted herewith showing: (1) The location of the various points of interest in the Park which are to be reached
by roads under the approved project. (2) The various stages of completion of these roads. (3) The work done during the present season. (4) The work under the project which remains to be done.
(For the part of this report liere omitted, see report of the Chief of Engineers for the year 1893, pp. 4393-9543.]
SEASON OF 1893.
The following is a résumé, showing the operations for the season of 1893:
In the month of April, having sufficient funds in hand for placing the roads in readiness for the traffic which commences in June, I placed a small party at work upon repair in Gardiner Canyon. At this point heavy slides from the mountain wall of the canyon come upon the road in the spring, making the cost of maintenance excessive. At this time the only portion of the system sufficiently free from snow to permit operations was at this point.
Beyond Golden Gate there was generally a depth of at least 5 feet of Snow.
About the middle of May I sent out Mr. Charles A. Hunt, United States overseer, to take local charge of the work during the season, with instructions to place repair parties upon the roads as rapidly as the disappearing suows would permit.
In the meantime Mr. A. E. Burns, one of the watchmen, had been dispatched upon a snowshoe expedition to cover the whole system of roads, and report upon the conditions then existing. His report is as follows:
With the exception of a few drifts there is but very little snow between here and Golden Gate. The grade around the hill approaching the trestle there is covered with slide rock, but no snow, as the wind sweeps it bare. At the upper end of the trestle is a large drift, another much larger at the Falls; the latter extends from the summit of the cliff on the west clear over the road, and falls for a distance of 30 feet. The first bridge on the fat is entirely buried, wii h the snow lying level away up above the rails. Across the flat the snow is from 2 to 4 feet; on Indian Creek bridge it is just 4 feet 6 inches, but has blown off considerably 'on Willow Creek bridge. All across the Willow Park the road lies under 4 to 5 feet of snow. From there on to Norris the snow is not deeper than usual at this season, 4 feet. Much of the new road around Norris Hill is covered with drifts which will probably leave the road bed very soft; but about one-third of it is entirely bare, owing to the warm ground. It appeared to me that the approaches to the new bridge at Norris haci settled to a considerable extent; if as much as I think, I'm afraid they will wash out at high water; but in this I may be mistaken, as it is hard to tell under so much
From Norris to the Virginia Cascade the snow's depth will average about i feet; from there to the canyon, about5 feet. The Gibbon River is allopen, so that I do not apprehend any danger to the road below the l'pper Falls from the ice damming up as last spring. I arranged with the care-taker at the Canyon Hotel to watch the snow on the retaining wall round the road above the canyon, and to cut it off if it threatens the road it all. There is no ice at all in the rapids above the Upper Yellowstone Falls; large snow banks are along the shores and on the larger rocks, but the water, which is rising rapidly, is fast cutting it away. The bridge over the dry draw at the foot of tho Canyon Hill is supporting snow 2 feet above the top of theside rails. On the new road across Hayden Valley the snow is of course very deep, the bridges over Alum and Tront creeks are covered level with the rails, and tho grado up from Trout Creek is one huge drift. On the Continental Divide the snow is so deep that it is impossible for me to form any idea of the roads there. Most of the signboards we put up from Old Faithful to the West Thumb are under the snow, at least I could only find two, and they were but a few inches above the snow. Spring Creek is open most of its length, snow sell there heavily last fall, before there was much frost, thus preventing the creek freezing, and with the little warm weather we have liad, the snow over the creek las melted, leaving an open channel. This is very fortunate, as I believe the washouts there last spring were mostly caused by ico dains, which aro not likely to occur this time. Between the first bridge on the Firehole River (from Spring Creek) and the second the show is from 20 to 30 feet deep, making the river, which is open, look as though it is tlowing through a canyon. I don't think it will be possible to get a team through there before July, unless it is shoveled, or an exceptional period of warm weather arrives,
Around the Upper Basin the snow is going rapidly, and there is but little between that point and the Fountain. From Lower Basin the snow lies from 3 to 5 feet deep, but no very large drifts. On Gibbon Meadows and Elk Park it is from 2 to 3 feet.
Baseil upon the information derived, I sent out a small party to patrol on snowshoes the road across the Continental Divide, to repair the damages from melting snows in Spring Creek Canyon as fast as they might occur, and otherwise keep me duly informed of anything which might happen.
As a result of the foregoing arrangements, the whole road system was occupied by repair parties nearly as fast as the snow disappeared. and it was placed in a most excellent condition in time for the season's traffic. The system adopted for keeping the roails in repair workel admirably; and as a distinct matter of fact, the roads in the Yellowstone National Park, from the beginning to the end of the season, were never before kept in such thorough and satisfactory condition.
Particular attention is invited to the fact that these repair parties do a great deal of work in the way of surfacing the roads with gravel, and in completing portions of road which have been left unfinished from former seasons.
A considerable portion of the roads was impassable from snow until the middle of June, and the Continental Divide road was not passable from the same calise until about the 1st of July.
During the first week in June Mr. Hunt, with the men in the office, made a survey and location of a portion of the proposed road from Mammoth IIot Springs to the Grand Canyon.
ROAD TO SOUTH BOUNDARY.
This work was executed by contract. In response to a public invitation for proposals the contract was awarded to Oscar Swanson, of Great Falls, Mont., who commenced work about June 20, as soon as the suow permitted him to place his men in the field. He executed hiscontract s.at isfactorily and opened the road for a distance of 15.5 miles south towaru the boundary. This portion of the line was carefully surveyed, and a recomaissance made at the close of the season to develop the quantity of work remaining and required to open up the line to the wagon road approach to the south boundary. The road can be opened quickly and at small expense.
A very difficult piece of road in clay at this point was made over again and surfaced with gravel. The material selected was not suitable, and this surfacing will have to be done again. A gravel suitable for road covering should be of quartzy material and associated with sani and clay or loam sufficiently to till the interstices of the hard material and act as a natrix when it becomes packed.
July 1, 1893, the new appropriation for $30,000 became available. Preparation had been made for it by ailvertising for the delivery of teams and material on that day. Also a site had been selected for a sawmill which was to saw lumber for the season's work and for the large wooden arch bridge above the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.
It has been the invariable custom to purchase supplies and hire teams by publicly inviting proposals and purchasing from the lowest bidder, making open market purchases only in cases of emergency.
The bids for teams were as follows:
The bids were lower than ever before on account of the financial dis. turbance in the country.
Five parties were organized and placed in the field on the 1st of July: (1) One at Norris to complete the new cut-off road at that point. (2) Ono at the l'pper Falls of the Yellowstone River to complete it very difficult
piece of road along the rocky face of the canyon. (3) Tlie sawmill and bridge crew at the Grand Canyon. This crew worked at log
ging and running the sawmill for twenty-five days, and was then reorganized
to build the big wooden arch bridge above the Falls. (1) One to proceed to the unfinished beach road on the lake, placing the road in
thorouglı repair, over which it marched on its way in. (5) A general repair party.
About the middle of September the amount of funds set aside for expenditure this season had been nearly expended, and all of the crews were discharged, except the bridge crew. This was held in hopes of getting the bridge finished, but owing to severe weather and snow and ice, which made it difficult and dangerous to work upon the lofty structure, it was deemed advisable to postpone completion until next year.
The road above the Upper Falls was completed and the crew placed upon the road from Grand Canyon to Mammoth Hot Springs via Yanceys.
The road at Norris was completed and the crew placed upon the new road at the Fountain Hotel, which it opened to travel.
The road at the beach was not completed, but it was carried forward to such point that it can easily be completed in time for the bulk of next season's traffic.
The repair party made efficient repairs over the road between Norris, via the Grand Canyon and Lake, to the Thumb, and was merged with crew at the beach.
The sawmill was kept in operation for sixteen and a half days, turning out an average of 5,800 feet, B. M., per day. An attempt was made to get out dry timbers for certain members of the bridge from standing burnt trees. This involved much trouble and increased the cost of the timber somewhat.