SCM 1000: From Roads to Bridges

The Legacies Left By American Road Rallies
Photo Credit: Paul O’Brien

SCM 1000: From Roads to Bridges

The Legacies Left By American Road Rallies
Photo Credit: Paul O’Brien

Roads lead to unexpected surprises, and that is why we’re here with our passion for meaningful cars and the roads on which we travel. And that is why I found myself in Oregon and Washington last week in a 1965 Porsche 356C Coupe – roads that take us to unexpected places.

Elgin Oregon Train Station with vintage cars

Elgin Oregon Train Station

The 80-odd drivers and navigators who took to the SCM 1000 freeways and county roads found themselves in one of the most beautiful experiences in the northwestern United States. The first unexpected surprise was that in a span of merely 500 miles or so, we crossed territory that brought to mind the geography and environments of Elsewhere, USA.  From Portland, OR to Baker City and back, winding roads took us through the open landscape of New Mexico, oceans of golden wheat stretching as far as the eye could see, the Rocky Mountains of Tahoe, the bouldered landscape of Arizona, and the hills of Tennessee. Iron roads and trains are as prolific as any place I’ve seen in the country, and the Columbia River connects our travel back to the Pacific.  As we traveled the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail, we could almost feel the pain and challenges experienced by the pioneers as they carved a path across hundreds of miles of unmapped territory.

Lewis and Clark Trail Map

Map of Lewis and Clark Trail | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As we turned a long corner, a sand-colored castle rose on the horizon and the winding road was lined by wind turbines with blades as large as semi trucks.

Maryhill Museum of Art sets the stage for an incredible stop along the SCM 1000, and the road brings to mind the idea that roads connect the experiences and opportunities of our lives.

These cars took us from Portland to this museum, which featured an incredible gallery of Rodin’s work, a collective of diverse chess sets, and the furnishings from the last great Russian monarchy.

Vintage Car in front of Maryhill Museum of Art

Maryhill Museum of Art

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One of the most interesting parts of the journey was learning the story of Sam Hill, one of the Pacific Northwest’s foremost advocates for modern roads.  Hill spent years traveling Washington giving lectures about the value of good roads. Unfortunately, these lectures fell on deaf ears. In 1909, he realized that the public and politicians needed to see the types of roads he was promoting in order to embrace them.

The Columbia River Valley

The Columbia River Valley

Most people of the era didn’t see a need for anything other than the remote dirt roads that wound their way across the countryside. Most transportation was via wagon, as there were very few automobiles in the area. Hill paid out of pocket to build ten miles of experimental roads around his estate.  His dream was “a great highway so that the world can realize the magnificence and grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge.” His vision was not merely transit, but to connect the larger world to this splendor. His work is displayed in a small room of the Maryhill Museum of Art that was once his estate. He is credited with transforming the entire Pacific Northwest. His roads were built into the geography and environment of the region, winding around cliffs and beautifully bridged rivers, creating one of the most beautiful road trips one could undertake today.  Today, the Columbia River Highway is considered the “King of Roads.”

Roads brought us here and, like Sam Hill’s work, bridges connect us.  One of the most beautiful car metaphors is that the meaningful things in our lives connect us to other people, much like the roads and bridges we traverse every day.

Red Vintage Car at SCM1000 Cars Building Bridges

SCM 1000 Cars Building Bridges

I’ve experienced a lot of car shows, but nothing has touched my heart quite like the blond haired ten-year-olds who waved at me and Miles Collier as the 356C passed their minivan on the highway.  Thinking of the human aspect of car culture, it makes me appreciate how the roads and cars we love connect places like Austin and Portland thanks to friends like Jim North on the SCM 1000 Road.  Bridges built between Miles Collier and me during our hours on the road explored the details of his originally-owned 1965 Porsche, taught me the subtlety of shifting into 2nd to get into 1st, and impressed upon me the distinct rumble and vibration of this classic automobile.  This bridge was built thanks to the work of the incredible crew behind SCM 1000: Donald Osborne, Erin Olson, and more. The team introduced us to The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Drive Toward a Cure, which is working toward new treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Coincidentally, published as we drove the roads of Oregon, Mercedes-AMG brought to life this experience on the off-roads of Oregon, a bridge built between father and son, and between an auto enthusiast and his first experience driving a car.

These are roads that build bridges.

The roads that Routemaster Neil d’Autremont planned throughout Portland and Washington did far more than provide pavement for these automobiles; they built bridges between new friends, experiences, and cities throughout the Northwest United States that will impact our lives to the very end of the road.

 

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