Description from Vernon Evans (center fella in the picture) of the story behind this Photograph, taken in 1936:
Well, we was all without jobs here [in South Dakota]. And the jobs was so few and far between at the time we left that you couldn’t even buy a job. We had friends that we knew out in Oregon, and we decided we was going to go out there and see if we could find some work. We had $54 between the five of us when we started out from here to go to Oregon. And when we got to Oregon, I think we had about $16 left. We had absolutely no idea what we was going to do.
We all got in an old Model T and started for Oregon. We started out, and, I don’t know, we got out six miles and broke the crankshaft. This old rancher, he had some old Model T motors laying around. He said we was welcome to a crankshaft if we wanted one. So, we went back and proceeded to tear the motor out of the old Model T and put the crankshaft in. And that night we made Baker, which is a matter of 24 miles from the night before.
Well, then we had pretty good luck all the rest of the way. But we got around Missoula [Montana] and we was having a good time. See somebody along the road or something. And here was this car sitting alongside the road, and a guy sleeping in it. So, we honked and hollered at him, having a good time. Pretty soon, this car was after us. We’d heard they was sending them back [police sending migrants back at state borders], wasn’t letting ’em go on through. So, we thought, “Well, here’s where we go back home.” He motioned for us to pull over to the side of the road.
Anyhow, he come up and introduced himself [as Arthur Rothstein] and said he was with the Resettlement Administration and asked us questions about the conditions here and one thing or another. Where we was headed for. This “Oregon or Bust” on the back end was what took his eye. Then, he asked us if we cared if he took some pictures of us. Oh, we said, “I guess not.” I think he took eight different poses. And then after we was out there [in Oregon] I guess probably it was that fall or winter, why these pictures started showing up in the different magazines and papers. Anyhow, we got out there and I went to work on the railroad.
here's another of the gang
This has been discussed many times before. By 1936 east of Missoula they were on highway 10 headed west on a paved road. If you look on the pole behind them it says Highway 10. The photos were taken probably less than 250 feet from the main east/west highway through Montana. Then, as now, there are only 4 main roads that cross the mountains and get traffic from the east side of the mountains to the west side of Montana. I90 follows this old road along the Clark Fork River, 150 miles north highway 2 follows the Marias River and over the pass to Columbia Falls, there is also a river road that follows the Blackfoot west from Rogers pass and joins HWY10's old route east of Missoula; south 150 miles there is a two lane that crosses at Lemhi Pass into Idaho and then goes back north almost to Missoula and goes west over Lolo pass.
Other than that you are on Forest Service/Gravel/private roads to cross the mountains.
This was a pretty well known pull off and camping spot. There is a spring up there in the grove of trees. Later on it was developed into one of those roadside picnic areas that were popular then. I think it fell into ruin and disuse in the 60's or early 70's when the Interstate was built through there as people did not stop and camp and it was not readily accessible from the Interstate.
Neat photos but they were not lost in the hinterlands of Montana. They probably were holding up traffic which in 1936 on the newest and best road in Montana was probably running 55-60 most of the time.
This is about 75 miles west of where I live.
In the background of the side view you can see some old boards and rubble.
Thanks for posting this. Great stuff!
Great story and facts to go along with the photo's. Ditto on that "thank you" for posting!