Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why US 89?

Please join the US 89 Appreciation Society: https://usroute89.com

By any measure, the vistas and landscapes viewed along the route of US Highway 89 are spellbinding. For decades, this route has mesmerized curious travelers with its bare-bone deserts, red rock canyons and snow capped mountains - which often cradle vibrant cities and storybook farms and towns. The sheer number of national parks and monuments along this route attest to the noteworthiness of this special geography. Saguaro, Zion, Teton and Tuzigoot offer a few of the enchanting names that encompass parts of this magical landscape. Highway 89 pierces the heart of the Great American West and in so doing reveals the richness of the American dream. It weaves together the fabric and tapestry of this raw and rugged land with the energies and hopes of its optimistic people.

The Wanders of US 89

Graphic courtesy of US 89 Appreciation Society.  Please join today: https://usroute89.com

Highway 89 equals or exceeds with its multitude of deserts, plateaus, mountains and plains. This spectacular geography owes its origin to the awe-inspiring geology of the intermountain west, for this is an area that has been alternatively inundated by seawater, scorched in Sahara-like deserts and cooled by equatorial rains. Mountains have risen here before, only to be subdued and completely eroded away by the eons of wind, water and time. Each of these ancient settings left subtle but distinctive clues upon the landscape. These hidden secrets are now recovered by geologists in their quest to obtain riches from the land - oil, coal, gas and hard rock minerals. Along this path to treasure emerge stories that have no monetary value, yet they increasingly serve to enrich a population of residents and travelers alike who are keen on recapturing a sense of discovery. What once was known only to scientists is now becoming an open book to anyone with an smattering of interest in the history of our planet. Once complex theories are now guideposts to discovery for interested travelers.

Highway 89 yields to the lay of the land and this undulatory routing may be the ultimate source of its attraction. It may seem ironic then, that this highway is also squarely directed at the momentous landscape features that lay astride its path, including seven national parks. One could drive this road from the Mexican border to Canada and feel like they had seen much of America, such is the diversity of landforms found here. On this geologic journey, one encounters deserts, plateaus, mountains and plains and each of these generic settings harbors a formal name, some of which are familiar to travelers. These are the Basin and Range, the Colorado Plateau, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Highway 89 touches them all and anyone who studies this route will want to become familiar with the geologic history of these provinces. The purpose of these geologic narratives is to give travelers a sense that they are embarking not only on a physical journey on Highway 89, but also on multifarious journeys, which take them through time. These journeys are resurrected from secrets long held within the rocks and landforms seen along the route of US Highway 89.

US 89's Arizona Route

Graphic courtesy of US 89 Appreciation Society.  Please join today: https://usroute89.com
New York: Hastings House, 1940

"Following a roundabout route between the Utah Line and the Mexican border, US 89, more than any other road, displays the great diversity of Arizona land and life.  Though running through long arid stretches it is never monotonous; there is always a brilliance of color, constantly changing, that makes the wasteland memorable--yellows, browns, reds, dull greens, becoming purple in distant mountains, below a sky that is intense blue, pale green, fiery red, according to the time of day."

"The people along the route are as varied as the country, which ranges from plateau more than a mile above sea-level and snow patched even in summer to the subtropical Salt River Valley; along the northern end are lumberjacks living in camps, near the center are Arizona metropolitans in houses of extremely modern design, and along the lower end are the Mexicans---whose adobe houses can always  be identified from far in the fall by the strings of scarlet chili peppers.  Wild animal life is abundant--deer and antelope graze within sight of motorists, Mexican quail dart from mesquite and sagebrush beside the road, and road runners streak across the road itself ahead of oncoming cars."

To see how US 89 meandered through Arizona see: http://ushwy89.blogspot.com/2017/11/us-89-project-begins.html

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

US 89 Project begins

US 89 has been on our mind since we moved to Arizona on Valentine's Day 1979.  We're finally digging deep into the highway's history.