Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On The Road To Persia

Curiosity is a curious thing. When I write historical articles I like have a really good sense of the place where the action happens. Thank goodness there are numerous tools to help me satisfy this curiosity. One of the best is good 'ol Google Earth.

While working on a piece about U.S. efforts to supply Russia with arms and materiel during World War II, through the so-called "Persian Corridor"  I came across a photograph of Army convoys traversing a switchback in the Zagros Mountains on the way from ports on the Persian Gulf to Tehran, Iran's capital.


My curiosity piqued, I wondered where this place is - or was. The caption says the switchback was twenty-five miles north of Andimeshk, an army division point for both the road and rail routes.

Opening Google Earth, I flew off to Iran to look for the town in question. It turns out to be nearly due north of the Persian Gulf ports, about a third of the way to Tehran. Using the Path Tool, I followed the highway for 25 miles.

If the caption was right, the switchback should be somewhere near the end of the red line. Time to zoom in and follow the road with the cursor.

I drove and drove and drove, kilometer after kilometer. And found nothing. So I started further south, about 15 miles from town. Realizing that 70 years have passed since the switchback was used, and that the road's right-of-way could have changed dramatically, I slowed down to about an inch a minute.

Hold on. What's that? But it's only 20 miles from Andimeshk. Still, could this be my quarry?

It's a little hard to see, but at the Highway 37 marker a road diverges to the left, goes a couple hundred meters, makes a sharp turn to the right, goes several hundred meters more, makes another sharp turn to the left . . . and so on until it reaches the top. I compared the Google Earth image to the photo of the switchback, and everything lined up. Hooray!

As you can see, the new highway just makes a beeline over the same topography. As you can also see, this place was where the U.S. Army drove its heavily laden trucks back and forth across that same hill to get to their destination.

Happy Trails!

If this post was helpful or interesting to you, please let me know. I’m always looking for ways to improve the blog. 

Disclaimer: The description of web pages are accurate as of the date of the post. Like everything else in this digital world of ours, they can change in the blink of an eye.

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    Steven Trent Smith
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