Gunners Garage

Yellowstone Trail Tour – Day 4

When we woke up it looked like it was going to rain. My 1917 Oakland has no side curtains (as well as no spare tire). So, we prayed for no rain as we continued on to Marshfield. Car collector Guy Carpenter, of Marshfield, called to tell us that he had arranged for us to use the two-post lift at the home of Al Breu, another area car collector.

Dave Sarna wanted to get at least one or two more bearings re-inspected and properly adjusted so there would be less to do at my shop on Thursday. We could not redo all of the rods because we were still waiting for parts from Andy Wise to come from Delaware in the overnight mail. But we figured that Dave could do a couple at Al Breu’s place, to get a jump on the job.

While Dave was working on the car, with help from Al, Guy Carpenter came to check on our progress and make a $40 donation to the Lions Club. Then we received a call from John Julias, a car collector from Greenville, Wis., who gave us some information about country roads in his area and told us a great Yellowstone Trail story.

It seems that in the early 1920s (around 1923) a family from New York was traveling the Yellowstone Trail as part of their vacation. They were driving a 1920s Franklin – an air-cooled car made in Syracuse, N.Y. John Julias said that the Yellowstone Trail had taken three different routes through his area at different times. One route traveled along Julias Drive, on land that John’s family once owned.

The Franklin car broke down on Julias Drive, at a farm owned by the Menning family. Some work was done on it by the Mennings and the car’s glass wind wings (small windows that attached behind the windshield) were removed. Then, the owners of the Franklin said that they had to get to Stevens Point to pick up money that was being wired to them. They left their wind wings at the Menning’s place and said they’d return for them, but they never did. Tim Menning (a former pilot and a car collector) still has those wind wings. Maybe we should stop and pick them up.

We were supposed to get to a restaurant in Marshfield by noontime to meet members of the local Lions Club and pick up their donations. This meant we had to push the car uphill, out of Al Breu’s garage, to put it on the trailer. Luckily, the car pushes amazingly well. We left Al Breu’s house at 11:30 and should have had plenty of time to get to the Sunrise Restaurant, except that we ran into a freight train with about 100 cars crossing the road. We had to wait for the train to pass.

After the train finally went by, we turned left and ran into the same train again. We waited and waited as the 100 cars passed again, but the last car didn’t pass right away. The train stopped with the last car still blocking the road and we had to sit there another 10 minutes. Talk about frustration.

We finally got to the Sunrise Restaurant and met up with Lions Club members who crawled all over the car and took photos with it. Then, they treated us to lunch, which was very reasonably priced compared to other places. After lunch, we headed down the road towards our late afternoon stop in Plover, Wis. On the first part of this leg we traveled many beautiful country roads lined with trees wearing their fall colors. It was a shame to get back on I39 just above Stevens Point. This highway soon took us to Plover.

Our destination in Plover was the Comfort Inn, which has a “beverage center” called The Yellowstone Pub. We unloaded the car from the trailer in front of the pub. This was the first stop where we had arrived early. Since there were no Lions Club members there yet, I decided to take photos of the car, by itself, in front of the pub. Dave also wanted to do a little more light mechanical work on the car, which he did right in front of the motel.

We returned to the room and the phone rang. The hotel operator said that a man with a 1928 Oakland had come to Plover to see the car. He turned out to be John Gehrke of Stevens Point, who owns the very original, unrestored Oakland All-American Six. We parked these two rare cars together, compared notes and took more photos. By this time other people showed up, including several Lions Club representatives.

As the October sun began to set, several of us retired to the Yellowstone Pub to see a collection of Yellowstone Trail photos and memorabilia. Wayne Heiman of the Manawa Lions also came to see us. For several months, Wayne has been doing all the behind the scenes contact work to coordinate our stops at different places and he’s done an absolutely great job.

Tomorrow (Thursday we are heading to The Yellowstone Garage at 112 Granite St, in Waupaca as early as possible. We hope to get in 3-4 hours of work on the car before the Waupaca Lions put on a lunch at noontime. Everyone is invited. Bring your old car, too.

Our Yellowstone Trail Tour has been organized to raise money for the Lions Club’s Camp for disabled children in Rosholt, Wis. Visit “Century For Sight” on Facebook to learn more about the tour and how you can contribute to this Lions Club charity.

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