“… and you may ask yourself, where does that highway go to?” — Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime
“Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything. From the Interstate, America is all steel guardrails and plastic signs, and every place looks and feels and sounds and smells like every other place.” — Charles Kuralt, On the Road with Charles Kuralt
“Life doesn’t happen along the interstates. It’s against the law.” — William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways
Florida This web site is intended to be a historical resource, dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the US numbered highway system. The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Public Roads, laid out the US highway system along primary intercity roads of the day. Preliminary planning of routes to be included began in 1924. A list of proposed route numbers was ready in late 1925. The final list of US highways was agreed upon on November 11, 1926. In the early years, auto-tourists followed the US routes like they had the Auto-Trails. During the Great Depression, the U.S. and state governments put men to work improving and extending the nation’s roads and highways. The US highway system carried the bulk of intercity vehicular traffic and people migrating west to California. These highways helped the US win the Second World War, allowing great flexibility in ferrying men and materials across the nation, supplementing the nation’s fixed rail system. After the war, highways swelled with cars mass produced in factories tooled up to supply wartime needs. Roads built in the 1930’s were inadequate for the faster and wider cars of the 1950’s. Roads were widened, straightened, and divided. It was not enough. With Germany’s Autobahns as an example of the highways Americans wanted, President Eisenhower signed a bill creating the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways on June 29, 1956. “Future Interstate” shields cropped up like weeds as the new superhighways were built along or on top of US routes. The plan was for both systems to co-exist, maintaining established travel routes. California started the process of relegating US highways to a lesser place in modern life on July 1, 1964 with the decommissioning or truncation of most of its US routes. Others have cited the removal of the last traffic light on I-90 in Wallace, Idaho on September 15, 1991 as the Interstate System’s completion because the original 1956 plan super slabs were now in place. In my opinion, the decertifying of the famed Route 66 on June 27, 1985 was that moment. Now someone could go from Chicago to Los Angeles without seeing landmarks like the Blue Swallow Motel, Roy’s Cafe, or Lucille’s Service Station. US 66 was replaced by five Interstate numbers in addition to numerous state routes: I-55, I-44, I-40, I-15, and I-10. No single official highway number currently carries traffic between Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA, despite the fact that a single highway number linking those two cities had been a priority since US route planning began in 1925. The experts believe that a single number connection between two cities is no longer important. Now, over a decade after its de-certification, US 66 is back as “Historic” Route 66. Business blooms where it had once withered in the Interstate’s shadow. People still want to travel that single number, that storied two-lane highway and see what America was like before homogenization. Maybe those experts were wrong.
Interstate highways are wonderful for getting you somewhere fast,from one big city to another without all the small towns, stoplights and tourist traps in-between. People become just another cargo, to be delivered fast, cheap, and safe. The US highway system can still take you someplace, to where someone lives, works or plays. It is not just the destination that is important, so is the journey. One of the goals of this site is to show where these highways go and have gone. Maybe you will recall road trips from your past, or be inspired to take another one. Maybe you will learn a little more about the historic routes you travel. Recall those twisty old two-lane roads, neon lined motels, and a time when most gas stations had service bays instead of food marts. Enjoy the site. I hope you learn something. E-mail me if you do. So hit the road and Happy Motoring!
The Big Table U.S. Highways : The Big Table: This page is chock full of raw data on the US Numbered Highway System, presented in a table format that should fill your computer screen. There is only one link on the page, and it is back to here. More in-depth information will be found in the pages listed below. Table includes present and former routes, termini, states passed through, roads that replaced the routes, years of commissioning and decommissioning along with major extensions and retractions, along with the numbering convention for US Highways. The next three pages reproduce most of this data in an easier-to-read dosage.
US 1 to US 830 U.S. Highways : From US 1 to (US 830): The current complete United States highway list in sequential order, with their termini. All US highways past and present are listed here, with their length in miles and (historical maximum extent), if different from current length. Each road is linked to its location in the North-South or East-West page. Click here for a text only version of this page.
Odd highways North-South U.S. Highways: The odd numbered highways from US 1 on the Atlantic coast to US 101 on the Pacific coast, with branches listed in order, both past and present, with states the roads pass or passed though (with links to other sites), the roads that replaced it, and other notes, such as years of commissioning and decommissioning and major extensions and truncations. Each road is hyper linked to its location on the sequential page. This is the page with the recently extended US 63, the truncated US 91, and the oddly numbered US 17-1, which ran from Petersburg, Virginia to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Even highways East-West U.S. Highways: The even numbered highways from US 2 along the Canadian border to US 98 along the Gulf of Mexico (and US 400), with branches listed in order, both past and present, with states the roads pass or passed though (with links to other sites), the roads that replaced it, and other notes, such as years of commissioning and decommissioning and major extensions and truncations. Each road is hyper linked to its location on the sequential page. This is the page with both US 20’s, Old Route 66 and the “Loneliest Road in America” – US 50.
Divided U.S. Highways: Split (Divided) Routes: These suffixed US Highways were supposed to represent equal splits in the highway, equally good alternates. They were invented to get the US highway system approved, and Kansas led the way with splits in US 40 and US 50. Oddly, none of the Kansas divided routes remain. All of them are listed here, past and present, in sequential order. Also listed are the states the roads pass or passed though (with links to other sites), length of the highway (current and/or historic), the roads that replaced it, and other notes, such as years of commissioning and decommissioning and major extensions and truncations. This is the page with the former US 99E’s and US 99W’s, the splits in US 30, US 40 and US 50, and all three routings of US 6N, including the one connecting US 6 to Kingston, New York.
Alternate US Alternate U.S. Highways: Bannered Routes: The special purpose US Highway loops and spurs, past and present. Included are : ALTERNATE, BUSINESS, BYPASS, CITY, HISTORIC, OPTIONAL, SCENIC, SPUR, TEMPORARY, TOLL, and TRUCK. All are listed in sequential order and from north to south or east to west along the parent road.
numbering,links, credits U.S. Highway Numbering, Links, and Credits: An explanation of the numbering system of US Highways, why there is no US 0, and why I believe the biggest violator of the numbering plan is US 425. The major road related link list pages are listed, each one with more information on highways than you may ever need. This is also where I list the many helpful and knowledgeable people who have assisted with this site.
future Future U.S. Highways: The US Highway system may have shrunk in places, but it is poised for growth in others. Information on official new routes in the planning stages are here, like the Coalfields Expressway from Beckley, West Virginia to Pound, Virginia which is proposed to be US 121 [II]. There is also the full list of US highway numbers that have yet to be assigned, like US 103. My own ideas on new US highways are there, like US 47. In addition, there are a few that never made it past planning stages, like US 60N from Chicago, IL to Springfield, MO. Finally, there are a few multi-state routes that have the numbers and routings you would expect from a US route.
US Highway Quiz The U.S. Highways Quiz: Do you think you know everything there is to know about the United States Numbered Highway System? Do you feel Lucky? This quiz is one way to test your US Highways IQ in a format made popular by ABC Television’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. Big thanks go out to Kurumi of Kurumi.com for creating and hosting this fun way to test and increase your knowledge. (Note – this site is not maintained by me)
State Sites Individual State Sites Link List: The United States is big. Very big. So nearly impossibly big it is hard to get a grip on it all. To allow for a more detailed look at the US highways system, I have linked to web sites which feature the US Numbered Highway System at the state level. This page lists those sites I referred to, as well as crediting their authors.
U.S. Highway History
1925 B.P.R. highway plan Bureau of Public Roads Report in 1925: This table shows the all US highways planned on October 30, 1925. It also shows their termini, the states they passed though, and the routes they became in 1926. Based on Report of Joint Board on Interstate Highways, approved by the Secretary of Agriculture November 18, 1925, the infamous 1926 Rand McNally Road Atlas, and a 1926 AAA USA map. Roads listed in sequential order.
1927 U.S. Numbered Highways U.S. Numbered Highways in 1927: This table shows the all US highways originally adopted November 11, 1926. It also shows termini, length, the states the highways passed though, and split N, S, E, and W routes of the day. Based on the AASHO publication American Highways, April 1927, Vol. VI, No. 2. Roads listed in sequential order.
1956 US highways U.S. Numbered Highways in 1956: This table shows the US numbered highway system at its zenith, just before the creation of the Interstate system. This table shows termini, length and the states they passed though. Largely based on a USA map for 1956 by AAA. Roads listed in sequential order.
Early US 66 US 66 – In the Beginning: The history of Route 66 in the early 1920’s, before much of it was even paved. The original 1925 plan and 1926-1927 routing are listed. Scanned maps from 1928 are there for you to examine the original twists and turns as the road snaked from Chicago to Los Angeles. The ‘daughter’ branch routes are listed, including the still active US 166, US 266 and US 666 and the decommissioned US 366’s, US 466 and the little known US 566. Also reprinted here (with permission) is an article by Richard F. Weingroff of FHWA on why the number of this road was changed from US 60 in the planning stages to US 66 in the field.
Dixie Highway Dixie Highway: More of a system then a highway, the Dixie Highway carried early auto tourists from the Midwestern US and Canada to Florida. When the US highway system was established, most of this system was absorbed into the nascent numbering system, some was not. Over time, much of it has been renamed, and the remaining named portions are like an incomplete puzzle. This page is an effort to fill in those missing pieces, connecting what time and progress have severed.
Past, Present, and Future U.S. Highway Shield: A look at the Past, Present, & Future of the United States highway sign. The first US highway shield made is featured there, as well as a shield used by Automobile Blue Books, Inca of Chicago. A picture of an Original US 66 shield from Oklahoma is shown there. The famous colored US shields of Florida are there. On Page Two: I take out the “Big Box ‘O Crayons” and rework the US highway shield, searching for a more interesting color scheme for the future than the generic white on black.
Temp Interstates Temporary Interstates: The best kind of Interstate, Temporary. From the 1960’s to the 1990’s, Temporary Interstates were used to connect and extend the Interstate system. California, Michigan, and North Carolina took the lead with this type of route. Modern practice is to use “Future” signage for the new corridor.
Cloverleaf Cloverleaf: The official off ramp and miscellaneous link list for this web site and anything else that attracts my interest, like gasoline stations, web sites dedicated to individual highways, bridges, regional web sites, original artwork, photography, and the always fun reciprocal links.
Yamamoto’s Higway Makover The Great International Highway Makeover: Many currently boring and / or drab highway route markers could be livened up without loss of functionality. Why not try colors, new shapes, or even different symbols? This part of the site is growing all the time as people worldwide like you submit their designs and comments.
Scenic Overlook Scenic Overlook – Photos from the Open Road: This site includes an extensive photo essay of the former route of US 25E up Cumberland Gap and other sights and scenes, organized by state, with a focus on the southeastern US, especially Florida. Any future road trip photos will be found here.
Maps Maps: A few scanned maps from my collection and map scans that have been sent to me. Now with a 1957 USA map showing the nation before Interstates. If you are looking for a specific alignment my research fee is posted there. (Hosted by YahooGeocities)
1937 Detroit The Right To Drive Right: My maternal grandmother, Mary Blanche Einhouse, lived and drove in Detroit, Michigan in 1937. This is her entire Driver’s manual for that year. 84 pages with pictures of classic automobiles, electric streetcars, historic structures, and old signs.
Standard Whatever happened to Standard Oil? The company that started with a plan to make money on the home lighting kerosene market ended up hitting it big with another petroleum product – gasoline. Standard Stations used to be a common sight along the nation’s highway’s – offering fuel, auto supplies, repairs, and trip planning while carrying on a long history of quality and service. Long distance travelers could not help but notice that the Standard Oil Company in one state may not be the same company in the next, or even the next after that. This is a highly abridged history of Standard Oil from the days when Atlantic, Esso, Sohio, Conoco, Stanocola, Stanolind, Socony, Socal, Waters-Pierce and Kyso could all claim to be Standard Oil, to the present when there are three remaining corporate heirs to the John D. Rockefeller’s “Standard” brand name – ExxonMobil, bp (formerly BPAmoco), and ChevronTexaco.
Montana Highways Montana Highways: A website about the highways of Big Sky Country – Montana. Interstates, US Highways, State Routes, Trails, and what exactly did ‘Reasonable and Prudent’ mean, anyway?
Colored US shields Florida in Kodachrome: This part of the site is dedicated to detailing Florida’s US Highways, and showing them in the traditional (1957-1993) color scheme. There is a small collection of photographs of the colored US signs in the field, taken before their replacement by generic MUTCD-compliant FHWA-approved-and-paid-for black and white shields.
Historic Florida Roads and Highways Historic Florida Roads and Highways: This page traces the growth of the nationally numbered highway systems in the Sunshine State since 1925. Linked maps show the location of the decommissioned routes US 94 and US 541, which existed only in Florida. The original Florida only routings of US 98, US 319 and US 441 are detailed. There is information on US 21’s brief planned routing in the state. Page Two traces the construction of Florida’s Interstate Highway System from 1959 to the present, including the proposed I-75E and the full length of I-4 before its truncation.
Old Florida Blue Diamond Roads: Florida used a numbering system far different from today’s grid from 1917 to 1945. The road numbers were assigned by the Florida Legislature, and included many suffixed route numbers. The route markers were blue diamonds.
Florida.Auto.Trails Florida Auto Trails: Before the US highway system was adopted in 1926, cross country traffic followed Auto Trails. Each highway had a name and a marker. Florida was a tourist destination in those days, too, and traffic followed these often colorful signs over Florida’s early roads to Florida’s beaches, springs, and swampland. Includes the south end of the famous Dixie Highway and the eastern end of the transcontinental Old Spanish Trail.
Old Florida Drivers Handbook 1950 Florida Driver’s Handbook: More rules and regulations than the 1937 Detroit driver’s manual, this slice of Fuller Warren era Florida is just before the big highway boom. You could be driving at 14. Your driver’s license cost $1.00. Sixty miles an hour was the speed limit on the highways, daytime only. You only needed a single tail light. The artwork in the scanned manual is typical of the period, humorous and to the point. Also, the end of free range Florida in 1950.