Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area
People Had Time to Talk/Traffic was Slow Then
By BURTON 0. LUM
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, 25 March 1962
The hazards and perils of travel in the wild and wooly west during the early days were less exciting and less dangerous than those of today. The personal safety of the pioneer was quite secure after the dangers of the hostile Indians had been overcome.
The vehicular travel in those days was small and slow. It was a lazy, tiresome task just to sit on the old spring seat of the lumber box wagon and hold the reins as the horses plodded along with the wagon wheels deep in the ruts of the old dusty road. It was only necessary to look around about each half hour to see if there was any dust cloud arising that might denote the approach of someone from the rear. Dust clouds of oncoming traffic could be seen for hours at a time before the two wagons met. At their meeting each driver pulled out and gave up half of the road and stopped his team when each drivers seat was opposite. A lengthy chat always ensued, whether it was a friend or a stranger.
The unloaded wagon always gave way to the loaded wagon. If both meeting wagons were loaded, they each gave up half of the road. The speed of vehicular traffic in those days was so slow it never became a serious hazard.
There were two things that the pioneers possessed in abundance. They were time and space. There was no rushing or crowding in those days. The pioneer had time to look at a beautiful sunrise and listen to the chirping of the awakening birds, to fill his lungs with the cool clean air washed by the spring rain. He took time out to gaze in adoration at the rainbow in all its beauty and significance as it arched the morning sky. He had leisure to smell the fragrance of the wild dog rose and to watch the robins build their nest. These free harmless diversions released the pressure of his daily burdens and gave him strength and courage to carry on.
The driving hazards of today are mounting rapidly. The driver of today on overcrowded roads and streets has not the space or time to properly maneuver his car. His eyes are glued to his driving mirror as he tries vainly to watch the meeting and passing traffic and obey all the stop, go slow and numerous other driving signs. If you have ridden in the left rear seat and heard the swish, swish, swish of the passing traffic and observed the distance by which the hub caps of the passing cars miss each other, you might wonder if the distance is always enough. The problems of traffic control and regulation is requiring the best engineering brains available in its solution.
The lonely pioneer in his vast expanses of uninhabited territory could not envision what the future would bring. Congestion never entered his mind. The nearest he came to the problem was when he branded the sheep and this was but for a very short duration. We old pioneers endeavor to supplement today's happenings with the historical facts of yesteryear. We hope that these retrospections will point out the progress that has been made in this region in so few years and be a stimulus for continued progress. A Prayer Against a catastrophic blight That all mankind would kill Dear Father in thy righteous might Be swift to force Thy will. Oh! Holy One, Thy strength employ Cast out each imp from Hell And all their fiendish plans destroy That peace on Earth may dwell. To lead them safely through The lack of vision to understand By faith they'll gain from You. No fear nor fright can them appall Beneath Thy sheltering wing And peace on Earth, good will to all The love will surely bring.
Return to Index of Burton Lum Articles