Sept. 20, 2017: Gacad: Gold mining and the development of Baguio (Part 4)
THE construction of the Benguet Road, later named after Colonel Lyman W. V. Kennon, was initially conceived to provide access to the temperate climate of Baguio. Described as a fine, rolling grassy country at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level, Baguio answered the need for a summer capital and a place where bone-weary and wounded American Soldiers could recuperate.
Before the coming of the Americans, it took a 24-hour boat ride from Manila to San Fernando, La Union and a 3-day ride on horseback over steep mountain trails to reach the area. As mine prospecting lured more American ex-soldiers, civilians, and businessmen to Baguio, it became imperative that a more expeditious and convenient means of access be provided.
The marvel that was the Benguet Road was conceived and planned by competent engineers and built by thousands of laborers. Governor William Howard Taft, Commissioners W. Cameron Forbes, Dean Worcester, Luke Wright, and Daniel Burnham participated in the conceptualization and execution of the plan for the development of Baguio.
The Philippine Commission, determined to see the project through to completion, approved a resolution designating Baguio as “the summer capital of the archipelago,” and put Colonel Lyman W. V. Kennon in charge of the project to build the 40-kilometer winding road which bears his name.