The Triangle Route
Clayton J. Guest

For the first several years after the Yosemite Valley railroad was completed the trip from the railroads terminus to the Yosemite Valley and adjacent points of interest was made by horse drawn stages. Motor vehicles were prohibited in the Park until 1913 or 1914.

About that time a small company, the El Portal Big Tree Auto Company, was formed to transport tourist to the Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Big Trees. It is thought that this company became The Big Tree Auto Stage Line in late 1914 or early 1915.

The Big Trees Auto Stage Company operated the Triangle Route. The Triangle Route tour departed El Portal, the terminus of the Yosemite Valley Railroad, on the "new road," the Foresta road, that crossed the Coulterville Road near Big Meadows and it seemed to ascend an almost solid granite wall 2000 feet above to Crane Flat. Crane Falls and Foresta Falls were visited at Crane Flat. The breath taking view of the Merced Canyon and the main entrance to the National Park, several thousand feet below the observation points at Crane Flat, was most impressive.

From Foresta the tour continued through virgin forests on to the Tuolumne Big Tree Grove, where sight seeing stops were made. With the first leg of the triangle completed, the stage traveled down the Big Oak Flat Road, on the second leg, to Yosemite Valley. At the highest point of this leg the stage reaches Gin Flat, almost 7000 feet above sea level. From there the tourist reached Gentrys only eight miles form Yosemite Valley. A wonderful panorama of all the splendor of the gorgeous gorge was viewed from Inspiration Point. Upon reaching the Valley, were great sights everywhere, including El Capitan and the lively Merced River.

To complete the triangle, the third leg, was along the "merry and mad Merced" river to El Portal where the traveler could board a Pullman coach to return to Merced and then to other cities or remain at the del Portal Hotel in El Portal.

For the convenience of the traveler, the Triangle Tour could be done in reverse to the above.

There were two Triangle Route, each way, every day during the tourist season. The first tour, "Number 1," left the del Portal Hotel, after breakfast and the second, "Number 2" left shortly after lunch. The reverse tours, "A and B," had approximately the same schedules. These tours were available for $7.50, originally under the El Portal Big Tree Auto Company the cost was $7.00.

Equipment used was either open semi-large motor stages or oversized touring cars. The motor stages had five rows of bench seats and the touring cars had three rows of bench seats.

After Desmond Park Service Company assumed operation of the del Portal Hotel, other Park lodges, camps, and Yosemite Transportation Company, the third leg of the Triangle Route was operated by Desmond.





Clayton J. Guest, January 9, 2000