On the road

Posted by Ken Campbell June 25, 2008 0 Comment 817 views

Maybe it is because I grew up along Highway 101. Admittedly, I grew up in Southern California, and Highway 101 has a different feel to it as it rolls through Santa Barbara than it does on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula. Still, it has a familiar ring to my ears, and maybe that’s why I feel a certain affinity for it.

Winding along the western shore of Hood Canal, Highway 101 is never far from the sight of water. Through Potlatch and Hoodsport, Lilliwaup and Brinnon, towns and places that seem sleepy and uneventful, which I suppose they are. But they were not always that way. There was a time when talk of a rail line to Port Townsend had speculators buying every parcel they could get their hands on. Land near Union, near the Great Bend of Hood Canal, sold for more than $1000 an acre, and that was in the 1890’s. The rail line never happened, but the land prices have stayed pretty high anyway.

Lilliwaup is the place where O’Neill’s second expedition debarked to begin their Olympic explorations. Lt. O’Neill had been told that there was a good trail to Lake Cushman that began in Lilliwaup, which is why he chose to get started here. (He had been misinformed, of course. The real trail began in Hoodsport, a dozen miles to the south. It later came out that the men who were the source of the misinformation were land speculators with interests in the Lilliwaup area. Imagine that.)

Hoodsport is still the gateway to Lake Cushman. It’s a town, with restaurants and stores, homes and vacation cottages. Lilliwaup is still a wide spot in the road, although there is a general store there now. I’m sure there are still real estate profiteers around, waiting for the railway.

Highway 101 is especially beautiful in early summer, when it can feel like mile after mile of green, leafy tunnel, punctuated by the odd town, park or tavern. A perfect, sweet ride through the past.

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