James Robert Yates

Jim & Ruth Yates
Casey, Illinois
January 15, 1997

Yates Diary of a Trip West 1950-51

This little diary was written with the heart, mind, and hands of two people whom I love very much and owe a lot to, my parents. This is written describing the events of a special trip they were privileged to take from our home in Metcalf, Illinois to Ogden, Utah, West Yellowstone and Yellowstone in Montana, and home. The trip was to visit my sister and her husband, Pat and Lucille Owens, and together they went from Lucille's home in Ogden up to West Yellowstone to fish at a resort owned by an acquaintance of Lucille's.

My cousin, Wilbur Yates, took his parents and mine on this trip. They were so very grateful to Wilbur for this wonderful trip. His parents were Arthur Lee and Ella Yates. Mine were Harry Elmer and Georgia Yates. The year was 1950 or 51. Wilbur had a new 1950 or 51 Studebaker Commander with the torpedo style front. My brother Roy and I stayed by ourselves and made it fine. It was corn de-tasseling time and we both worked at that. Roy was a foreman. Dad (Harry E. Yates) starts the writing by recording what they spent and then Mom (Georgia Yates) takes it up by noting items of interest and happenings. They alternate at writing but Mom does most of it. I recorded this just as they wrote it at the time and made slight modifications to improve readability. Please be sure to see the additional photos at the end.


(Harry Yates)

Eats, Decatur, IL., $ 2.14, Shelbina, Mo., $1.43, St. Joseph, Mo., $1.94; Motel, $5.00, Meals, $3.47.

(Georgia Yates)

Car repaired at St. Joes. (I remember them telling me the car developed a motor noise and they were held over a day. Georgia Yates said the guy who worked on it had the title of "Doctor of Motors").

Left at 2:45 pm, July 15.

Crossed river over into Kansas, saw devastation of flood waters; saw man plowing corn with one horse & double shovel. Went through Troy. Saw some very beautiful country Thru Highland. Biggest clover fields I ever saw. Went thru Hiawatha & had a 25 mile detour. Came out at Fairview and on to Seneca the county seat of Nehemaha Valley.

Filled up with gas. Left my notebook in the toilet. It was so dirty. Wilbur brought it to me. Going through road repairs. Came on to Marysville and spent the night. Got a 3 rm. cabin all modern (this meant it had running water and indoor toilet, not AC in that day) for $12.50 and our supper for $1.53.

July 16th.

Left Marysville 4:50 am. Had breakfast at Belleville. Country sausage & eggs. Fine. $6.00 for Motel, $1.53 for supper, $.86 cards & candy, $1.33 breakfast. Very pretty country. Passed thru the geographical center of the U.S. Stopped at Norton, Kansas for gas at 9 AM.

Mile after mile of wheat fields, pasture lands and hardly a house. Seen an old fashioned cowboy with all his fancy trappings on a Roan colored pony. Had a white beard.

$ 2.43 dinner, $.71 cards, $.51 cards

Passed thru Atwood and saw my first cactus growing. Saw a sunflower fence. Saw great fields of tumble weeds. Crossed the state line into Colorado at 11:30, our time, 10:30 Mt. time. Ate dinner at Cope, Colorado. Met Stevenson from Danville there. Stopped for gas at "Last Chance" station.

$ 5.00 Beds & Room, $4.50 Eats, $.50 Cards

First glimpse of Mts. with snow on 50 mi. out of Denver. Going thru Denver Colorado. Seen capitol building. Saw Yates St. in Denver. Going thru Mts. Beautiful and Wonderful. Had our pictures taken. Hope they are good. Got a drink out of a spring flowing off the top of the Mt. on top of Old Bertha on Continental Divide. It took from 2:30 till 6 PM going thru the Mts.

Had supper at Granby, Colorado & stayed all night. Started for Ogden at 4:50 Mt. time. Had frost this morning. Came down thru the canyon. It was beautiful. Saw a train going round & up the Mt. We crossed the Colorado River. Snow on the Mts. Aunt Ella said "Let it stay there".

Ate breakfast at Kremling, Colorado. Saw lots of Red Wing Blackbirds & sagebrush & beautiful Pine forests on the Mts. Also beautiful flowers growing right out of the rocks on the Mt. side. Came over Rabbits ear pass 9,680 ft. Saw snow at the edge of the road & lots of it. Saw a real pack mule and a stake & rider rail fence. We have traveled 190 miles and are still in the foot hills of the Rockies.

Came thru Skull Creek, last town in Colorado. Mts. were red rock or clay & looked like a blaze of fire. Saw a natural rock fence formation. Saw rocks shaped like skulls & some like cliff dwellers houses and some looked like fine old castles & holes in the side of the Mts. where Indians lived. Crossing into Utah at 10:45 Mt. time. Crossed Green river. Ate dinner at Vernal, Utah. 12:40 PM started on road to Salt Lake.

Saw a sheepherder's covered wagon up against the Mt. Saw where porcupines had been killed on the road. Still in beautiful foothills of Mts. Saw another sheepherders home, a covered wagon. Saw a beautiful, large lake. Little boats, lots of ducks and Sea gulls. Going thru Uinta National forest. Beautiful flowers.

Came near being in an awful wreck 2 times by cars meeting us passing on the hill. Had to stop on account of road repairs. Going thru Salt Lake City, 182,181 Pop. 4:50 PM. 40 minutes coming thru Salt Lake City. Arrived at Lucille's at 6:30 Mt. time. Spent the night and started for Yellowstone Park at 5:45 AM.

Went through Brigham City. Saw beets growing & a sugar factory where they refine & make beet sugar. Saw valley land full of beautiful crops made possible by irrigation. Crossed into Idaho at 9 AM. Saw a natural rock garden only larger than any I ever saw. The rock was purple & silver and had cactus, flowers, & little pines growing in it and glittered in the sunlight.

The beauty of the Mts. and valleys is indescribable. Saw the first black rock. Looked like coal, just as even as a fence. Going thru Pocatello, Idaho. Saw my first long horn range cattle. Passed thru an Indian town and saw a few Indians. Stopped at Blackfoot, an Indian town for some pop and to stretch. I rode with Pat & Lucille in their Hudson Commodore 8 from Blackfoot. The color is grey & gold. It really rode nice. I saw big potato houses & went thru edge of Idaho Falls.

Crossed Snake River. Going thru edge of Rexburg, Idaho. Saw acres & acres of potatoes. Going thru Targhee National Forest of Idaho. Beautiful large pines, silver poplar trees & flowers. Saw a tunnel where the rail road went thru. Saw some really big fish in the forest (in a river that started right up out of the ground.). One was 30 in. long and he would have weighed 10 lbs. Ate dinner at Island Park Lodge, Idaho. Really was good. Crossed into Montana at 3:45 PM. We sure are in a wild & wooly place. Cabins are modern but have home made beds. Had a good night's rest, breakfast at seven and Harry Yates started out to fish about 8 o'clock. Got a rainbow trout 14 in. long, weighed 1-1/2 lb. When he found he had one he said "Oh, I got one, I got one, someone come & help me"! None of the rest of them got any.

(Harry Yates) 7/19

Went fishing. I caught none. Wilbur and Arthur caught one each. It rained on us and the lake got awfully rough. Pat & Seal hasn't caught any yet. Wilbur and Pat & Seal went.

This Sunday morning our toilet has a wood latch on both sides and sometime last night Arthur went in and the out side latch fell down and latched him in and did he pound and holler till he woke us all up and Wilbur let him out. I told Arthur he was like an old man up at English (Indiana, where they were raised). The boys played a joke on him and locked him in the jury room and he hollered and told them to let him out for the flys were dying in there. Did we all have a big laugh.

Well, $2.50 for license. It can cloud up and rain so quick. We walked about 3 hundred yards down to a river and the sun was shining when we started and in 30 minutes it was raining & hailing and up on the high mountain it had snowed all over the top of things. We are in a valley with high mountains on both sides of us. You have to look nearly straight up at them. My, what good water comes off of them. There are about 10 or 12 cabins where we are staying. Arthur, Ella, Wilbur, Georgia Yates and I are staying one cabin & Lucille & Pat in a small one close to us.

(Georgia Yates)

Arthur doesn't have much to say since he got locked in the can. .ha ha. Pat & Lucille's boat started out in the lake after they landed and he started wading out after it and he had to take off his pants and I guess he was a sight. Wilbur got a rainbow trout 14 in. long & about 1 lb. Was a real beauty. Pat got one about 10 in. long. There was a big Moose seen right in this camp a few days ago. Today was a quiet, beautiful Sabbath. We really felt God's presence. Pat accused me of praying they wouldn't get any fish & I told him I prayed about a lot of things.

I guess Pat is a real dare devil steering a boat & Lucille is scared to death tonight & says she isn't going tomorrow but she will for she loves to fish. Daddy (Harry Yates) is mighty sweet, he picked me a beautiful bouquet of flowers today.

(Harry Yates)

This is Monday. Went fishing. Wilbur got one 14" long. Pat got five. Arthur & I got none. Wilbur had a fine one but it broke his line.

(Georgia Yates)

Cards & candy & stamps, $.46 cents. Had all our pictures taken with the fish. Sure hope they're good. Lucille is washing & cutting the fish up.

July 22.

Starting home & we are all going to have supper together. Started to West Yellowstone at 5 to 7. Saw little twin fawn about 10 mi. from camp Fire Lodge where we stayed. Pat says they were about 3 mo. old. Still had spots on them. They were really cute. Going in the Park at 8:25 AM. We bid Pat & Cille good bye. They sure are swell, but need the Lord. I'm glad they are tender hearted. That song "We'll understand it better By & Bye" came to me. Seemed to be a promise to me. The Lord is near & precious to us.

We sang "Happy Birthday" to Aunt Ella. Beautiful drive, a river along the road & Mts. & beautiful falls. Saw Fire Hole falls and rock formation just like a horse. Saw big rocks in the water with pines growing on them. Saw a big black bear at 5 after 9. Saw boiling hot water shooting right (this was in Wyoming) up out of the ground. Saw the Paint Pot. Boiling springs. Red rock with boiling water & smoke going down over it. A horrible sight.

Saw beautiful Gem pool, clear boiling water & varicolored rock. Morning Glory pool. Colored like a Morning Glory. Saw Old Faithful in eruption. It was a beautiful sight. At 10:40 AM we saw red & blue smoke coming right out of the ground. Saw a big, beautiful brown bear at 11 AM. He laid down by the side of the car. Wilbur got his picture standing up. Also got a fine shot of the black bear.

Aunt Ella says she's seen so many rocks she's about to turn to one! Looked down into a beautiful falls & canyon. It was Gibbon Falls, height 80 ft. Saw a little black cub bear, he was really cute. Benze (Benje,Benge.?) Springs, it smelled like sulphur. More snow on the Mts. Saw a big female elk at 12 AM. We have come 2,000 miles since we left home. Saw another big black bear. Saw Obsidian Cliff. Beautiful black, sparkling rock. Saw a beaver exhibit and where the dam was. Saw Ruster Falls & beautiful Mts., gold and all colors of stone thru the Garden of the Gods. All massive rock like castles & figures of all kinds.

Aunt Ella had her picture taken by Liberty cap, a big rock. Ate dinner at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Park. Saw an old stage coach right on the front porch & a great pile of deer horns. 6,200 ft. elevation. Saw a big brown bear, came right up to the car. Going thru road repairs. Another big black bear & another brown bear. Saw a family of bears. A mother and 2 cubs, 1 black & 1 brown. Another pile of horns. 5 more black bears, big ones. One climbed right up on a car. Beautiful natural rock fence around the Mt. Hundreds of Illinois cars! Another bear. Mts. full of snow. Going up on Mt. Washburn, 10,317 ft. elevation. Another bear & snow right at side of road. Another bear, these were brown. Another, 19 so far.

Real cool, lots of snow. 3 more bears. Saw the upper falls & rushing torrents of water rushing from high up to thousands of feet below. Yellowstone River. Saw pelican on river. Saw a boiling mud volcano. It was really hot. Yellowstone Lake, cabin cruisers & boats of all kinds. Trailers of all kinds. Another black bear. Fresh snow on the Mt. Sea gulls on Yellowstone Lake. Saw the Teton Peaks. Sylvan Lake, Lake Eleanor, Sylvan Pass 8,559 ft. elevation. One way traffic. Snow below us. Saw a Raven.

4:40 PM, leaving Park. Going thru Shoshone Forest. Pahaska Tepee. Buffalo Bill's old trading post. Indian Tepees. The Palisades Mts. Firefighters memorial. Sheep ranch, hundreds of sheep. Buffalo Bill reservoir. 2,000 acres irrigation. Going thru tunnels right thru the rock. Shoshone canyon, beautiful but scary. Coming into Cody, Wyoming at 6 P.M. Stayed at Allens cabins. Had our supper at the Cody Cafe. This is a typical Western town. Saw real cowboys & girls & Indians. They were having a rodeo and it passed thru town.

We went thru the Cody Museum & it was really interesting. Was in Buffalo Bills house where he lived. 4.85 eats. ...91 film & medicine. Saw all kinds of guns, saddles, Indian shoes, jackets, headdresses, arrows. Stones where they ground their meal, old hammers handmade, dishes, pots, knives, all kinds of stuffed birds & animals, pictures, an oxen yoke that Abe Lincoln made. Old stage coaches, furniture made of deer horns, old souvenirs & papers of Buffalo Bills. Had our breakfast at Cody's Cafe. 2.85 breakfast (has a "22" here, I think she means July 22) 3.50 bed

July 23.

Cody, Wyo. Starting at 7:15 AM. Still seeing snow on Mts. Plenty of Sage Brush. How vast God's creation is. You get a small view of it no farther than we have come. The road is like a silver ribbon in the sunlight. We have to hurry & get back to IL. for as soon as we left the rest of them left and no one to run it. We have seen so many Ill. cars. Seeing stock corrals & loading chutes. Land has been irrigated, oats & wheat & sugar beets & alfalfa. Greybull city. Big Horn River. Mts. with caps like houses with windows and awnings. Shell canyon, beautiful. Big Horn forest & Mts. Very beautiful formation, so large, like fine old cities full of castles & buildings. Beautiful river with lots of falls. On top of the Big Horns, 8,317 ft Elev.

July 23.

Little lakes on top of Mts. 11 mi. of road construction right on top of Mts. Silbey Lake Elev. 8,500 ft. Cutter Hill. Saw a deer. We are coming down into the valley. Lots of alfalfa & wheat. Thru Ranchester 250 Pop. Big combines passing us from Kansas going into the Dakotas. Mining red rock out of the hills for road & R. Road. Snow on the Mts. in distance. Indians living in tents. Lots of cattle. Coming into Sheridan, 11,500 Pop. 1:30 PM. Had our dinner at Ferns Cafe, Sheridan Wyo. and heading for the Black Hills. More big combines, mostly Massey Harris. Some John Deere. NO Internationals! (Georgia Yates said this because Harry Yates sold International farm equipment for many years)

$4.89 Dinners

Towns 50 & 100 miles apart. Lots of cattle at foothills of Mts. Big windmills, fine road. Covered wagon. Lots of cattle. Making a fine, new road out of red rock & blacktop. A big Diesel. Entering Black Hills Forest at 5:15. Seen Devils Tower. This is a National Forest thru Sundance. Farmland & cattle. Leaving Wyoming at 6:20 PM. into S. Dakota. Entering Black Hills National Forest. Saw a beautiful deer. Passed a memorial where the Indians murdered the missionaries. Entering Deadwood. Had our supper at Bodega Cafe & stayed all night at Berkley cabins.

July 24.

Starting at 25 to 8 for the gold mine. Been thru the Yates gold mine and am I ever tired! Had coffee & doughnuts 9:20 AM. Saw a man raking hay with horses. Also one plowing with a sulky plow. Going to Hill City zoo. Nearest fake I ever saw. Stunk 'till you couldn't stand it! Animals either starved to death or starving. Going thru Custer National Forest. Scenic drive. Horse Thief Lake. Views of Harney Peak 7,240 ft. elev. Biggest rock is from Mt. Rushmore. Next one is from Harney Peak. Saw a real forest Ranger, green tie & trousers, grey shirt & hat, brown shoes. Fine looking.

Saw the 4 Pres. Faces, Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, & Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore. (400 ft. higher than the road) Thru a real rock tunnel. 1:10, got stung on the leg by a bee. It flew in the car. Red rock hills & roads. Going into Rapid City. View of it from the hills is beautiful. S. Dakota. Had our dinner at Rapid City. It is 104, really Hot! 25 to 3 PM. Saw a big army air base. Rapid City air base. Going towards Bad Lands, S.D. Beautiful rolling hills & valleys. Lots of grain not cut. Stopped at Wall (Ted Husteads) Drug store for a drink. Its 112 degrees! Going thru Badlands. No one could describe it. Just like some giant monster had turned the earth up in great piles! 261 mi.

July 25.

Out of Badlands suddenly. Beautiful hay fields, Open range, cattle on roads. Had our supper & stayed all night at Shamrock Cabins at Kadoka, S. Dakota. A terrible night, so hot you couldn't sleep. Cool this A.M. Open range, cattle on roads. Great, high snow fences. Cattle stockades, loading chutes, big hay fields & baled hay. Changed time at Murdo, S.D. Wilbur saw pheasant & a white fox. Gentle, rolling land. Getting back to God's country. Good, black land. Crossed Mo. River and going into Chamberlain. Had our breakfast at the Derby Cafe at Chamberlain, S.D. They brought Harry Yates a steak knife to cut his steak with.

Lots of cattle, hay, wheat, & corn for silage. Going thru a detour. It is raining. Big pheasant & duck country. Some killed by cars on the road. Lakes with ducks on them. Grain cut but not threshed. Corn very short. Going thru Mitchell, S. D. at 10 AM. Crossed James River. Going thru Alexandria, over to Stanley Corner, on down to Yankton. Crossed James River again. Beautiful country. Going thru Yankton, 8,000 pop. Had our dinner at Vermilion, S.D. Starting for Des Moines, la. 543 mi.

July 25.

At 1:20 PM thru Elk Point. Sioux City at 2:02. In Iowa at 2:20 PM. First wreck we've seen. A Pontiac rammed a bridge abutment. Some one was killed. Out of Sioux City 12 or 15 miles. Seeing beautiful, large corn fields. Beautiful scenery. Lots of fields of unthreshed grain. 5 to 4, coming into Dennison, la. Lots of fine beef cattle. Beautiful scenery. Coming into Des Moines at 6:30 PM. At 15 to 5 (AM) heading for Illinois, the best place in the world!

July 26

We stayed at Hillside Motel. The mosquitoes about carried us off. Had a rough time. So hot and so close to road. Didn't sleep much. We are moving right along. Fine, big cornfields and pasture land all along. Coming into Oskaloosa. Had our breakfast and on our way at 6 min. to 7. At 8 o'clock we passed a fine, big turkey farm. Pretty clover fields & chicken ranches. Passed thru Fairfield, Ia., home of Dexter Washers. Crossed Skunk River. Going into Mt. Pleasant Pop. 4,610 at 16 to 9 AM. Passed a big Army air base. Beautiful, big clover fields. Going thru Burlington, la. at 9:20 AM. Toll bridge across the Mississippi into Illinois at 9:25 AM.

Aunt Ella is about to starve for tomatoes & watermelons. Every time we pass a stand she gets after Wilbur to stop. She has seemed sick 'till now but the closer home we get the livelier she seems. She thinks she could drink a qt. of buttermilk and its just 9:30! We sure don't have room for her to swell up like she would and if her and Harry Yates eat that watermelon too, I just don't know what we will do. Harry Yates is getting meaner all the time too. Got his hat turned up in front and down behind. Harry Yates says just slice him off 30 acres anywhere in Ill. now. It sure looks good to us!

We have traveled 3,500 miles now. Roseville at 10:04. Passed thru Farmington, IL. 4 to 11. In Peoria at 11:30. Crossed Ill. River at 16 to 12. Passed the Caterpillar Works. Passed the Libby, McNeill, & Libby Packing Co. at Morton. $5.15 eats.

Passed thru Carlock, IL, the home of Fred & Fisk Foster. Coming into Bloomington at 25 Min. to 1 PM. Had our dinner & started again at 25 to 2. Came thru Champaign 20 to 3.

3,715 miles. 407 today (I think)

So ends the precious story of a trip some wonderful people enjoyed together! I doubt that my little mother realized how much her effort to keep this record in a little, black, plain notebook that measures 2-3/4" wide by 4-7/8" tall by 5/32" thick would mean to us today. She had terribly arthritic hands and fingers, twisted. This was an effort, I am sure.

Also, Wilbur probably didn't fully realize how much he was doing for both sets of our parents. We are in deep gratitude for what he did for them. His unselfish life meant a great deal to us all.

Additional trip Photos

This page was last modified: