Taking dear daughter home for Spring Break, we crossed the Vantage Bridge which spans the Columbia River and is part of I-90. This bridge was built in 1962 and is the second Vantage Bridge. The first bridge was constructed in 1927, but had to be replaced when the water level rose due to the new Wanapum Dam. It spans Kittitas and Grant Counties.
Last Monday dear daughter and I were traveling westbound across Washington State. I knew that I wanted to get over the I-90 Snoqualmie pass through the Cascade Mountains before 7 because I wanted the daylight and they were threatening long delays after that for avalanche control. By 6 we were stopping in Thorp. I filled up the tank and dear daughter ran into the Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall for snacks and a weather advisory. We had just passed a sign that said traction advisory and I thought that didn’t sound good. The guy in Thorp pulled up the WSDOT traffic cam for dear daughter and it did show snow falling, but he said we could make it. We had no chain or snow tires. After a few miles we had snow and soon after that it was sticking to the road. Soon we couldn’t see the road and we were down to two lanes. Trucks passing sent waves of icy snow onto my car. And then the trucks were required to chain up. Just before the summit, I passed a sign requiring traction tires, but alas no tire store to purchase them! We crept to the summit at about 30 mph and then started downhill. That was worse! Cars were fishtailing and going about 15 mph. At one point I lost control, crossed a lane and nosed into a snowbank. I looked around (thank goodness it was still daylight) and the guy behind me was also in the snowbank and the guy in front of me was all over the road. Really, at that point one has to keep going or plan to sleep in a really cold car worrying about another vehicle slamming into you. I backed up, practiced my deep breathing and kept crawling along. Finally the road cleared and suddenly it was over. The photos show the relatively flat part before it got bad.
Snoqualmie Pass began as Native American foot trails used for hunting game and gathering plants. In 1865 a wagon road was made to entice settlers to Seattle. In 1884 it became a toll road. The first car went over the pass in 1905 and by 1915 there was a new two lane road. It wasn’t until 1931 that the road was kept open all year round. In the 1950s and 1960s it was expanded to a four lane road (2 in each direction) and renamed to I-90 to be reflective to the national highway system.