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Fall on Hwy 112
by Randall Tomaras

Hwy 112 near Pysht
by Randall Tomaras

Highway 112: The Core of the Northwest Coast's Culture

The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway meanders through a landscape formed eons ago beneath the sea, carved by glaciers and carpeted with forests. The culture and traditions of the North Olympic Peninsula reflect the rich history of its people and environment, and Highway 112 has played a key part in that story.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway first began in the 19th century as a series of trails through the forests, connecting logging and fishing communities. Transportation supporting the area’s economy was by water and by private timber company railroads. Travel along the dirt trails was primarily for community activities, such as baseball games, dancing, education and missionary endeavors. Over time the trails evolved from walking paths into a road for wagons, automobiles and school buses. Different segments had different names, such as the Clallam Road, the Pysht River Wagon Road, and the New Road. These segments were consolidated in 1928 as Clallam County Road 9A.

The baseball teams of the logging camps provide an example of how the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway route affected the culture and activities of early residents. In 1922, travel to their ball games required various methods of transportation. A game between the Pysht Camp and the Twin Camp would have meant that one of the teams and its fans had to walk the nine miles of trail between the logging camps. A game in Sappho with the Pysht camp would have involved a trip in Merrill & Ring’s twelve-cylinder Packard, west up the Pysht River Road and south along the Clallam Road to Sappho. A game between the Hoko camp and the Pysht camp could likely have included a ride on a company-owned railroad for at least part of the journey.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway continues to be the vital link connecting the people, landscape and culture of the Northwest Coast. You are invited to experience it first hand as you travel its length.