Modesto Bee- Sept 16, 1980
Merced- Joe WEBB, 95, remembers
when the first automobile entered
Yosemite Valley. It was in 1909, the year he drove the last
into the valley.
WEBB, interviewed recently in his wood frame house in the Sierra foothills hamlet of Merced Falls, gestured toward East Merced Falls Road
as if it were only yesterday: "That car came right down this road".
Names slip his mind. But the
reclusive WEBB remembers the events of
life around horses that started when his mother opened nearby WEBB
Station. That was in 1888, and WEBB Station served the sightseers who were just beginning to trickle into what is now Yosemite National Park.
By the 1900's, "there was some guy promoting the area, and tourists came by the droves. They came in their fancy clothes despite the dust billowing from unpaved roads, primitive accommodations and endless hours of travel from one stage coach stop to another" WEBB said.
By the time the car arrived,
a railroad to El Portal, just inside
present park, had wrecked the business of the stagecoach on the
Coulterville Road to the north, the only one that would handle them. What's where WEBB says he drove the last trip, until modern times when
history buffs began retracing the route.
It's also the route followed by the car.
The car broke down at WEBB
Station, I know the driver and his
passengers stayed at WEBB station for several days because I hitched
my team each day and drove the wagon into Merced Falls to see if the part ot repair the car had arrived", WEBB said.
"The day the car was repaired this
guy from Bowers Cave saddled up his
mount and followed the driver. I think he knew he was gonna need
"As it turned out, that car didn't
have enough horsepower to take
steep grades up to the park. That old cowboy just attached his lasso
the car, and using some pine trees for pulleys, got him up everyone of of them".
Although WEBB hauled tourists, he
really doesn't like to travel.
farthest I have ever been from home is Ssn Francisco where I attended
the World's Fair in 1915". That's about 150 miles away.
Recently WEBB declined an invitation to be marshal the annual Butterfly Days parade in Mariposa about 30 miles away.
Thanks to Emerson Harvey for
submitting this article.
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