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Kennon Road, Past and Present

From Page 11 of the

Camp John Hay Newsletter, January 1981

Baguio City-CJH
Story of CJH

     The early settlers of Baguio had a serious problem. Transportation to and from the lowlands was tedious, time consuming and sometimes impossible because there was no road. A road had to be constructed if the city was going to prosper. A road from San Fernando-Naguilian would have been comparatively easy to build, but the trip would have involved nearly a day by sea plus another day of horseback riding up the mountain trail. At that time, the railroad ended at Dagupan -- a few miles from the base of the mountain.

     Several possibilities were considered and a decision was made to attempt a wagon road up the Bued River Valley in December, 1900. Captain Charles W Meade then the City Engineer of Manila was hired to undertake the construction. With a total budget of $75,000.00 he soon ran into problems cutting through the heavy rock and the money was soon exhausted. Captain Meade was relieved on August 20, 1901.

     N. M. Holmes took over as engineer of the project with $225,000.00 to get the job done. Holmes encountered massive labor problems with the natives and by June, 1902, only a total of 36.8 kilometers had been opened up for Wagon travel. Weather and landslides contributed to the slow progress.

     At that point, new surveys were done to determine the best route. The result was to continue, but that the project was estimated to cost $1,000,000.00. The Philippine Commission hired Major L.W.V. Kennon to study the project and advise them on the practicality of completing the road. Major Kennon determined that the road should be completed and agreed that it could be accomplished at a cost of $1,000,000.00. The Commission was determined not to be detoured and felt that it was too late to back out so Major Kennon was directed to finish the project.

     Kennon was a dynamic untiring man. Under his leadership the area of Twin Peaks was soon bustling with activity. He was a compassionate person and the natives loved him. He was a great organizer and inspiring leader. Under his guidance the road was completed.

     In addition to the roadbed itself, Kennon constructed 40 bridges two of which were made of steel. This was no small feat in 1905.

     On January 29th, 1905, Major Kennon drove in a horse and buggy from Twin Peaks to Baguio in 3 hours and 5 minutes. On March 27 of that year Kennon Road was officially opened to public transportation. It had cost a total of $1,966,847.05.

     The epic of Kennon Road is a part of the story of Baguio. Without it, Baguio would not have survived.

Ed Note - From the page 12 credits block: "The Camp John Hay Information Letter, USAF Recreation Center, Baguio City, R.P., is an unofficial MWR Newsletter published in the interest of the personnel using the facilities at John Hay Air Station. Opinions expressed by writers herein are their own and not to be considered an official expression of the Air Force. The appearance of names of commercial establishments in this publication does not constitute an endorsement of commercial products or services by the Dept. of the Air Force. Publisher: Camp John Hay. Editor: Michael G. Claseman. Contributing Editor: B. J. Smith. Photographers: Rudy Somineg, Samuel Lopez. Printer: Baguio Printing & Publishing Co."
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