McNeil Pass Summit

McNeil Pass Summit

I had about 700 miles left on my tires and wanted to install a new set so I left early and yesterday on a in-state loop. Turns out it was just enough miles. 15K+ out of a set of PR2s.

Anyway, I was moving along in 97 degree temps and what did I see? This I almost went in the ditch doing a double take. Now, you do know that the state of Washington has a law against posting BMR friendly summit signs. That’s the only reason I can think of that accounts for there being only 3 in the entire state. Or should I say 4, after this discovery.

Knowing there has to be more to the story I contacted the Douglas County road department and spoke with Cort, in charge of the sign shop. I asked about the sign and right away he started chuckling and proceeds to tell this story.

It seems that many years ago one of the local farmers got the idea that his area needed a sign that noted the fact that they had a Pass just as the other passes in the state and with that, posted his own handmade sign stating as such. McNeil Pass Summit Elv. 3100 Ft. After all, his pass, which is just the top of a long grade coming up off the Columbia River, is just as high as some of the better known passes on the interstates. Now, the locals thought it was a great addition to there area and it became a humorous focal point and stood there for more than 40 years.

One day Cort decided to honor it by having the sign shop make up a new one and post it in the exact location as the one that, by that time, had seen it’s days as far as condition. He even made a little turn-out to make it look official. As far as he knows, I am the only one that has ever inquired about the sign, being a local joke and all.

When I told him about the BMR Summit Bonuses he just thought it was fantastic that I would spot the sign. He went on to tell me a few other tales about interesting tidbits of local folklore about the area. He then proceeds to tell me that he also rides and that it’s not uncommon for him and his 7 buddies to climb-on and make a run to Missoula for lunch. “How cool it that?!” Then he says there is another similar situation where the county is going to pave a road to the summit of Badger Mt. and when the work is done he promised he would call and let me know that he has installed a summit sign there in honor of the BMR. He hopes I’ll be able to get over there and see it. “Gee I don’t know…