Plank Road

 

Until 1915, there was no way to get to San Diego from Yuma by car.  The Imperial Sand Dunes were like an ocean of sand that moved eastward at about 1 foot a year.  However, with San Diego about to host the Panama Exposition in 1915, it was important to have a means of transportation linking San Diego to points east.  A local businessman raised enough money to pay for 13,000 planks plus the freight to shop them from San Diego to Holtville, CA.  At the same time, Imperial County appropriated $8,600 for construction expenses.  The 6.5-mile plank road across the dunes consisted of two parallel tracks, each 25Ē wide, spiked to wooden cross pieces underneath.  The road didnít hold up very well, especially when mule drawn scrapers were used to clear the encroaching sand.  So, a new plank road was built in 1916.  This time it was built of 8-foot wooden cross-ties with a double-width section every 1000-feet as a turn-out.  The road was used for 10 years, but maintenance was as difficult as before.  About 1/3 of the time the road was impassable due to drifting sand.  A paved road was finally completed in 1926.

 

A small section of Plank Road can be seen a few miles west on Grays Well Road off if I-8, just west of Yuma.  www.desertusa.com/sandhills/plankrd.html

Trails and Treasures Home Page   Journey to the American Southwest 2003