Another Bad Day for the Terraplane

The summer was about to end. If we wanted to go to the high country to campout and fish for some big trout we needed to get going soon. Fall comes early to the high mountain lakes and before long one might find ice on the water bucket in the morning. So a trip was planned to go to Fish Lake, a lake high above Dubois on a very rough road off Union Pass. In those days, the road into the lake was mostly ruts and mud holes. Difficult enough for four-wheel drive machines, seemingly impassible for a four-door sedan. For some reason I went with my brother-in-law in his Jeep. He was really good at driving that machine and could traverse any road any where it seemed.  My father came later in the 1939 Terraplane (see my previous post for a photo). After what must have been a harrowing trip he arrived at the top of the long, steep hill above the lake. The running board (look it up) and one fender were worse for the trip and were sort of hanging by a thread to the rest of the vehicle. My father seemed pleased he had gone where no other man in a sedan had gone before. So down the long hill he went to the edge of the lake. 

All was fine for the two days we stayed at the lake, fishing and enjoying the late summer sun and the high mountain air for what we knew was the last time that year. My father caught a large trout which pleased him greatly and somehow seemed to be his reward for the crazy journey he made to get to the lake. I also suspect he was enjoying the “folk hero” status and comments of the several four-wheel drivers who could not help but be surprised that he made it to the lake in a Terraplane. So all was well and the time passed quickly as Sunday afternoon came and it was time for everyone to head for home. Then the trouble began!

My father loaded up the Terraplane and started up the steep hill to get to the road out. About halfway up the hill the rear tires began to spin, throwing rocks and dirt in the air. Two more tries to no avail and the hill was becoming more difficult to climb as the wheels spun loosening the rocks and dirt of the steep slope. So now what?  My brother-in-law decided he must help in some way, so he hitched his Jeep to the front of the Terraplane and up the hill the two vehicles went. Well, one Jeep was not enough to drag the heavy car up the steep and so back to the bottom again. By now everyone at the lake was over by the hill watching and commenting on the predicament. Well, if one Jeep ins not enough, how about three Jeeps all pulling the helpless Terraplane up the hill. It was a sight to behold. Three Jeeps all hooked together pulling with all their might were dragging the Terraplane up the hill. It was touch and go for awhile, but the Jeeps did the job by using their lowest gear and making sure the ropes are tight between each Jeep.  The top of the hill was finally reached and no one was hurt.

I still have a movie of that event that plays in my head. While it was a crazy time, it was also a tribute to the resourcefulness of a group of Wyoming sportsmen who would never think of leaving anyone behind, no matter how ridiculous the situation. Perhaps this wonderful spirit of caring for those you may not even know is one of the things I miss the most about Wild and Wonderful Wyoming.

3 thoughts on “Another Bad Day for the Terraplane

  1. Wonderful Wyoming sounds like my wonderful Idaho and any state is best when people help people…..strangers and friends, and even family!!…good read, Jim, Jo

  2. Can’t help compare wild Wyoming with wild Idaho and our dads getting pleasure in driving to impossible places. Being a girl in Idaho was different in that we spent our time ice skating on every small.pond, playing in the marching band, swimming in the lake, and sneaking off to Canada.

  3. wow – what a wonderful adventurous “read” – loved every minute of it. Made me feel like I could climb mountains again -(last one I put a rock on the cairn was Whistler) did a bit of climbing in Wyoming too – even in Newfoundland. Really loved that kind of fun. Then your passion re the automobiles brought all kinds of jerks on my tummy. My son was a “car nut” – even got a used car dealer’s license so he could delve into whatever at the car auction – put a for sale on the side and have fun till he got a good offer. Had a pretty fun time adding to his “slush fund”..
    Living in St. George now – after being born in the midwest – living on the east coast then Idaho – feel like I’ve been around a little. Had fun – kids say I am a “strong” woman – right now though, not so much. Don’t like this “aloneness” at all. 🙁 Sure had lots of it, though, as I read your story book pages.
    Ruth gardnergames@hotmail.com or 435 656 2860
    Ruth 435 656 2860

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