Pamplin Media Group – Next: From coast to coast 100 years in the past

Mrs. HM Franklin Sr. shares highlights of her 1922 adventure across the United States


Mississippi River

We visited a large coffee warehouse on the banks of the Mississippi where the atmosphere smelled good of coffee. Bags of “coffee that makes the politician wise and sees through all things with half-closed eyes” filled the warehouse and the beans were strewn profusely underfoot.

We saw many ships on the water and boarded a large steamer which sailed for Cuba and Panama soon after. The ship’s doctor, a handsome young man dressed all in white, showed us around the ship with its elegantly furnished apartments, its music room with piano and Victrola, and its vast decks for dancing and strolling. The doctor assured us that it could cure all seasickness when it was mentioned as the only downside of sea travel.

A trip to New Orleans is not complete without a visit to the cinema in the beautiful theater buildings. At the end of a near-perfect day, we boarded the Pullman, which was to be our home for four days, until we reached San Francisco, with many interesting stops along the Sunset Route.

We sat until the “wee hours” to watch our train board a huge ferry and be ferried across the Mississippi. There were three tracks on the ferry and our train was split into three sections. A rail surrounded the boat and there were lifeboats outfitted for duty, so we got off the train and strolled onto the ferry, feeling like we were on a combined train and sea trip. tug that was carrying us huffed and whistled and seemed to be working awfully hard for a summer night.

After a descent of the Mississippi, we slept in our Pullman beds as comfortable as at home, and the journey begins.

“Westward ho! Westward ho! Where golden harvests shine.

The Sunset Road

We had the sweetest dreams racing through the Sugar Bowl of Louisiana. For miles and miles stretch sugar cane plantations, complete with sugar mills, while in the distance the mansions of the planters are visible through the shining leaves of the magnolias.

Our journey leads through southern Louisiana where the “chili of life” forbids monotony and prosperity is achieved through pepper and salt with vast salt mines and fields of pepper tobacco. Slightly further afield is Crowley, the rice town where mills produce over half a million bags of rice a year.

Lake Charles is quite a center of business as well as a favorite spot for recreation as the rivers and lakes in this section teem with fish.

All day Sunday we traveled through Texas, this huge state that has been under the flags of France, Spain and Mexico in addition to its own Lone Star banner as the Republic of Texas. We see thousands of horses and cows on the grassy plains and at the picturesque appearance of the men, we realize where the expression “Texas Cowboy” comes from, the Sunday fishing in the streams along the road seemed to be quite popular and a fishing party maybe considered restful on the rest day unless you are fishing for mountain trout which is definitely not a restful hobby. Catching one is as hard as weekday work.

Interesting sites are to be seen in Houston with its large oil refineries, its seventeen railroads which make it the commercial metropolis of Texas.

Then we pass Galveston, which has one of the most beautiful ports in the Gulf of Mexico, where the largest ships enter the channel. The city is the terminal for steamship lines from New York, Havana, Vera Cruz and European ports. From Galveston there are vast shipments of cotton, timber, and other commodities.

As we approach San Antonio, the altitude becomes greater, and the meadows are interrupted by hills and slopes. A moderately healthy climate, hot sulfur pits with healing properties, beautifully shaded walkways and twenty-one parks have made San Antonio a favored tourist resort. Most of the old Spanish adobe buildings still stand in stark contrast to the newer skyscrapers. The famous Alamo was at the heart of the city where in 1836 a small band of 182 Texans withstood the attack of 5,000 Mexican regulars. After eleven days not one of the defenders remained, and the slogans “Remember the Alamo” speak of the courage and stalwart endurance of the small band of Texas man Fort Sam Houston, one of largest military posts in the country. , and nearby Kelly Field air camp provides uniformed men to add appeal to San Antonio.

On Monday, we still travel through Texas and we see villages against the backdrop of hills, Mexican houses with low flat roofs, cowboys wearing tall hats. We pass many windmills and Toronto, a tent city. For breakfast over dinner, there are luscious strawberries and raspberries and honey dew melon.

A dear little baby had crawled down the aisle and befriended many of the Pullman passengers during the afternoon. He fell asleep without a murmur but after midnight someone woke up the mother and held out the baby saying, “Madam, here is your baby, I found him crawling down the aisle. He had gone out without disturbing his young mother and was having a happy trip all to himself.

We pass Marathon, literally a “land of milk and honey”, where cattle ranching is extensive and bees work overtime. Paisano is the highest point of the line, “the top of the Sunset Route”. Here, the waters divide on one side towards the Atlantic, on the other towards the Pacific.

A most impressive sign decorates the pretty little railway park of Marfa. “No sepermite entraque.” We might have been tempted to be lazy if the interpretation had not been under the inscription “no laziness allowed”.

In Valentine, the trees are getting thinner and thinner, and we see more and more adobe houses with pots, pans and kettles hanging outside in true Mexican style, as we walk out of the city. Thousands of cattle graze on the plains, and we are told that antelopes have been placed there. Lots of Texas ponies to see as we go around Horseshoe Curve. There are fields of cotton and alfalfa and in the distance rise the mountains, whose “high heights with sunny smiles are crowned. And beauty radiates from every rock around”.

El Paso and Juarez, Mexico

El Paso is called the door to Mexico and someone always leaves the door open judging by the number of Mexicans in town. However, a huge United States flag across the station brings assurance that we are in our “own country”. Only the Rio Grande River separates us from Mexico and the tram will take you across the bridge to Juarez. Here are many scenic and interesting sights, including Mission Guadalupe, founded in 1659, one of the main performance venues. Juarez was named for the patriotic president of Mexico who once maintained his capital here. The houses are of the old Spanish architectural style, but most of them bear the signs of the many Mexican revolutions and show that the stone walls are not proof against cannonballs. A small gift shop has many interesting memorabilia from Mexico. In El Paso you can sing, “Step back, turn back O Time in your flight,” and time will suit you, because if you want to stay straight with the old gentleman, you have to put your watch back. Indeed, there are four different times in El Paso and it seems rather odd to arrive at 5, have plenty of time to sightsee, and leave at 4:30. El Paso is quite a large city with its fine public buildings, large foundries, cement works and factories, a large garrison post, Fort Bliss and numerous railroads. We say goodbye to Texas after covering 950 miles of this great state.

New Mexico

Just outside of El Paso, Mother Nature has used the most magnificent colors to paint the mountains blue and purple with golden foothills, while the green waters of the Rio Grande are rimmed with silver. We see Mexican villages and a number of double-roofed houses, one just above the other for ventilation. The covered wagons appear to be used for various purposes, with one serving as a school. Although the weather is getting warmer, we see Mexican women with shawls on their heads. Even our Pullman gets too hot and develops a hot box. The drunken wheel receives the Keely-Cure which proves effective, then at snail’s pace we crawl up treacherous sand hills with sage and mesquite bushes on either side.

Deming, New Mexico, is an interesting little town, the center of a great ranching, farming, and mining region. An underground flow of water has been developed for irrigation purposes and Deming is the distribution point for the mines in the Silver City and Tyrone districts. Florida’s rugged mountains are to be seen with Capital Dome and the jagged edge of exceptional Devil’s Arch. A large hole through a ridge in the mountains is visible for a long distance. The ridge is called Window Peak and the hole measures 86 by 250 feet. Halfway between Ladum and Wilma stations is the Continental Divide.

In this section are large copper mines and large cattle ranches. A mountain pass with magnificent vistas on all sides delights the traveler and we are currently crossing the Arizona border.

To be continued next week

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