Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic Sets to Study Abraham Lincoln His Life and Before the Civil War

CONTENTS SET A:

CONTENTS SET A:  Abraham Lincoln Biographical Information -- Child and Boyhood

Topic thirteen:  the Old National Trail  & Topic Five:  The Lincoln's Move to Illinois, March, 1830 &  &  Topic 115. Pioneer Life 

NATIONAL TRAIL TASK #4

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT U.S. 40, THE REPLACEMENT OF THE NATIONAL TRAIL

U.S. HIGHWAY ROUTE SYSTEM, 1926--  A HISTORY

CLICK THIS MAP TO GET THE FULL BLOWN UP VERSION

Early Auto Trails

In 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson became the first documented person to drive an automobile from San Francisco to New York using only a connection of dirt roads, cow paths, and railroad beds. His journey, covered by the press, became a national sensation and called for a system of long distance roads.

In the early 1910s, auto trail organizations—most prominently the Lincoln Highway—began to spring up, marking and promoting routes for the new recreation of long-distance automobile travel. While many of these organizations worked with towns and states along the route to improve the roadways, others simply chose a route based on towns that were willing to pay dues, put up signs, and did little else.

Planning

Wisconsin was the first state in the U.S. to number its highways, erecting signs in May 1918. Other states soon followed. In 1922 the New England states got together to establish the six-state New England Interstate Routes.

Behind the scenes, the federal aid program had begun with the passage of the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, providing 50% monetary support from the federal government for improvement of major roads. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 limited the routes to 7% of each state's roads, while 3 in every 7 roads had to be "interstate in character". Identification of these main roads was completed in 1923.

The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), formed in 1914 to help establish roadway standards, began to plan a system of marked and numbered "interstate highways" at its 1924 meeting.[24] AASHO recommended that the Secretary of Agriculture work with the states to designate these routes.

Secretary Howard M. Gore appointed the Joint Board on Interstate Highways, as recommended by AASHO, on March 2, 1925. The Board was composed of 21 state highway officials and three federal Bureau of Public Roads officials. At the first meeting, on April 20 and 21, the group chose the name "U.S. Highway" as the designation for the routes. They decided that the system would not be limited to the federal-aid network; if the best route did not receive federal funds, it would still be included. The tentative design for the U.S. Highway shield was also chosen, based on the shield found on the Great Seal of the United States.

The auto trail associations rejected the elimination of the highway names. Six regional meetings were held to hammer out the details—May 15 for the West, May 27 for the Mississippi Valley, June 3 for the Great Lakes, June 8 for the South, June 15 for the North Atlantic, and June 15 for New England. Representatives of the auto trail associations were not able to formally address the meetings. However, as a compromise, they talked with the Joint Board members. The associations finally settled on a general agreement with the numbering plans, as named trails would still be included. The tentative system added up to 81,000 miles (130,000 km), 2.8% of the public road mileage at the time.1926 and 1948 versions of the U.S. Route shield

The second full meeting was held August 3 and 4, 1925. At that meeting, discussion was held over the appropriate density of routes. William F. Williams of Massachusetts and Frederick S. Greene of New York favored a system of only major transcontinental highways, while many states recommended a large number of roads of only regional importance. Greene in particular intended New York's system to have four major through routes as an example to the other states. Many states agreed in general with the scope of the system, but believed the Midwest to have added too many routes to the system. The group adopted the shield, with few modifications from the original sketch, at that meeting, as well as the decision to number rather than name the routes. A preliminary numbering system, with eight major east–west and ten major north–south routes, was deferred to a numbering committee "without instructions".

After working with states to get their approval, the committee expanded the highway system to 75,800 miles (122,000 km), or 2.6% of total mileage, over 50% more than the plan approved August 4. The skeleton of the numbering plan was suggested on August 27 by Edwin Warley James of the BPR, who matched parity to direction, and laid out a rough grid. Major routes from the earlier map were assigned numbers ending in 0, 1 or 5 (5 was soon relegated to less-major status), and short connections received three-digit numbers based on the main highway from which they spurred. The five-man committee met September 25, and submitted the final report to the Joint Board secretary on October 26.[1] The board sent the report to the Secretary of Agriculture of October 30, and he approved it November 18, 1925.

Disagreement and refinement, 1925–26

The "final" U.S. Highway plan as approved November 11, 1926

The new system was both praised and criticized by local newspapers, often depending on whether that city was connected to a major route. While the Lincoln Highway Association understood and supported the plan, partly because they were assured of getting the US 30 designation as much as possible, most other trail associations lamented their obsolescence. At their January 14–15, 1926 meeting, AASHO was flooded with complaints.

In the Northeast, New York held out for fewer routes designated as US highways. The Pennsylvania representative, who had not attended the local meetings, convinced AASHO to add a dense network of routes, which had the effect of giving six routes termini along the state line. (Only US 220 still ends near the state line, and now it ends at an intersection with future I-86.) Because US 20 seemed indirect, passing through Yellowstone National Park, Idaho and Oregon requested that US 30 be swapped with US 20 to the Pacific coast.

Many local disputes arose related to the committee's choices between designation of two roughly equal parallel routes, which were often competing auto trails. At their January meeting, AASHO approved the first two of many split routes (specifically US 40 between Manhattan, Kansas and Limon, Colorado and US 50 between Baldwin City, Kansas and Garden City, Kansas). In effect, each of the two routes received the same number, with a directional suffix indicating its relation to the other. These splits were initially shown in the log as—for instance—US 40 North and US 40 South, but were always posted as simply US 40N and US 40S.

The most heated argument, however, was the issue of US 60. The Joint Board had assigned that number to the Chicago-Los Angeles route, which ran more north–south than west–east in Illinois, and then angled sharply to the southwest to Oklahoma City, from where it ran west to Los Angeles. Kentucky strongly objected to this designated route, as it had been left off any of the major east-west routes, instead receiving the US 62 designation. In January 1926, the committee designated this, along with the part of US 52 east of Ashland, Kentucky, as US 60. They assigned US 62 to the Chicago-Los Angeles route, contingent on the approval of the states along the former US 60. But Missouri and Oklahoma did object—Missouri had already printed maps, and Oklahoma had prepared signs. A compromise was proposed, in which US 60 would split at Springfield, Missouri, into US 60E and US 60N, but both sides objected. The final solution resulted in the assignment of US 66 to the Chicago-Los Angeles portion of the US highway, which did not end in zero, but was still seen as a satisfyingly round number.[1] Route 66 came to have a prominent place in popular culture, being featured in song and films.

With 32 states already marking their routes, the plan was approved by AASHO on November 11, 1926.[1] This plan included a number of directionally split routes, several discontinuous routes (including US 6, US 19 and US 50), and some termini at state lines. By the time the first route log was published in April 1927, major numbering changes had been made in Pennsylvania in order to align the routes to the existing auto trails.[27] In addition, U.S. Route 15 had been extended across Virginia.

Much of the early criticism of the U.S. Highway System focused on the choice of numbers to designate the highways, rather than names. Some thought a numbered highway system to be cold compared to the more colorful names and historic value of the auto trail systems. The New York Times wrote, "The traveler may shed tears as he drives the Lincoln Highway or dream dreams as he speeds over the Jefferson Highway, but how can he get a 'kick' out of 46, 55 or 33 or 21?" (A popular song later promised, "Get your kicks on Route 66!") The writer Ernest McGaffey was quoted as saying, "Logarithms will take the place of legends, and 'hokum' for history."

Expansion and adjustment, 1926–56

This sign, photographed in 1941 on US 99 between Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, illustrates one rationale for a federal highway system: national defense.

When the U.S. numbered system was started in 1925, a few optional routings were established which were designated with a suffixed letter after the number indicating "north", "south", "east", or "west". While a few roads in the system are still numbered in this manner, AASHO believes that they should be eliminated wherever possible, by the absorption of one of the optional routes into another route.

In 1934, AASHO tried to eliminate many of the split routes by removing them from the log, and designating one of each pair as a three-digit or alternate route, or in one case US 37. AASHO described its renumbering concept in the October 1934 issue of American Highways:

"Wherever an alternate route is not suitable for its own unique two-digit designation, standard procedure assigns the unqualified number to the older or shorter route, while the other route uses the same number marked by a standard strip above its shield carrying the word 'Alternate'."

Most states adhere to this approach. However, some maintain legacy routes that violate the rules in various ways. Examples can be found in California, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, and Tennessee. In 1952, AASHO permanently recognized the splits in US 11, US 19, US 25, US 31, US 45, US 49, US 73, and US 99.

For the most part, the U.S. Routes were the primary means of inter-city vehicle travel; the main exceptions were toll roads such as the Pennsylvania Turnpike and parkway routes such as the Merritt Parkway. Many of the first high-speed roads were U.S. Highways: the Gulf Freeway carried US 75,[30] the Pasadena Freeway carried US 66,[31] and the Pulaski Skyway carried US 1 and US 9.

Interstate era, 1956–present

1961 version of the U.S. Route shield

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 appropriated funding for the Interstate Highway System, to construct a vast network of freeways across the country. By 1957, AASHO had decided to assign a new grid to the new routes, to be numbered in the opposite directions as the U.S. Highway grid. Though the Interstate numbers were to supplement, rather than replace, the U.S. Route numbers, in many cases (especially in the west) the US highways were rerouted along the new Interstates. Major decommissioning of former routes began with California's highway renumbering in 1964. The 1985 removal of US 66 is often seen as the end of an era of US highways.

A few major connections not served by Interstate Highways include US 6 from Hartford, Connecticut, to Providence, Rhode Island; US 101 from Los Angeles to San Francisco; and US 93 from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. Three state capitals in the contiguous U.S. are served only by U.S. Routes: Dover, Delaware; Jefferson City, Missouri; and Pierre, South Dakota.

In 1995 the National Highway System was defined to include both the Interstate Highway System and other roads designated as important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility.

AASHTO is in the process of eliminating all intrastate U.S. Highways less than 300 miles (480 km) in length "as rapidly as the State Highway Department and the Standing Committee on Highways of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials can reach agreement with reference thereto". New additions to the system must serve more than one state and "substantially meet the current AASHTO design standards". A version of this policy has been in place since 1937.

16th President Topics Index

Learning On-Line Home Page