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Alex Burr - hester_nec

U S 51 - Memphis-dyersburg, Tn

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I've finally gotten off my rear end and started writting up some of the local area road trips - they are actually more explorations, than road trips - over the past year or so.

 

Last Sunday I went out and traced some 1920's alignments of U S 51 (of course, this was before it became U S 51) that I found in a 1923 Automobile Blue Book. The main one being in the Brighton area.

 

I also pretty much have figured out the Jackson Avenue routing in downtown Memphis, and this is included in this report.

 

To view the results go to my road travel website @ www.freewebs.com/yankeetraveller - click on Memphis Short Trips - this trip is the first paragraph - Memphis to Dyersburg - Jan. 25, 2009.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Last Sunday I went out and traced some 1920's alignments of U S 51 (of course, this was before it became U S 51) that I found in a 1923 Automobile Blue Book.

Wow. This just reinforces the fact that I need to get my hand on some Automile Blue Books...

 

Nicely done.

 

Chris

 

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Wow. This just reinforces the fact that I need to get my hand on some Automile Blue Books...

 

Nicely done.

 

Chris

 

I got the ones I have off ebay - and there are a some up for sale at the moment. The condition mine are in would be cosidered rough - but that's ok with me. I use the dickens out of them. I will tell you one thing I've found - pre-1926 tour books are better for tracing out old roads. They have turn by turn directions that are lacking in later post-1926 books. Yes, AAA and other tour books from '26 up do have strip maps, but those are lacking in a lot of ways. Of course it isn't possible to put detailed strip maps, I realise, but one can figure out some alignments from those.

 

I do have some AAA tour guides from the 1940's that are in very good shape - they still get used. I don't expect to resell them back on ebay - someday I may just box them up and send them to somebody.

 

Same thing with maps that I have - they also get used.

 

I neglected to mention a book I am reading at the moment, that might be of interest to roadies. We all know of Least Heat Moon, Charles Kuralt, Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" and we have several talented road reporters on this forum. But the book I'm referring to is "Ernie's America: The Best of Ernie Pyle's 1930's Travel Dispatches". It's quite a book - similar to Heat Moon's Blue Highways. I found a copy in the local library but there's a few on alibris.com for very reasonable prices.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Alex,

 

I loved it!! Great job. Like you, I use the old ABB’s and find them fascinating and sometimes frustrating.

 

Have you thought about contacting your local newspaper and offering to put together an “Around Memphis in 1923” piece? If the big time press doesn’t bite, there are usually lots of smaller weekly or special interest papers that would appreciate your story and photos. It would be nice to share your knowledge.

 

Thanks for the good work!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave

 

PS I just read your post describing the quality of turn by turn descriptions. You are absolutely correct....the older the date, the more detailed the turn by turn...for obvious reasons. But the 1924-26 ABB's have one advantage, they typically offer a descriptive introduction to a road and often the surface and road conditions, something lacking in early editions. Just a comment.

 

Dave

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Excellent work! I especially like the photo of the bridge with all the grooves in the deck, and the one where the old alignment of 51 dead ends - check that narrow pavement at the very end! Oh, and that narrow RR overpass is wild.

 

jim

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Alex,

 

I loved it!! Great job. Like you, I use the old ABB's and find them fascinating and sometimes frustrating.

 

Have you thought about contacting your local newspaper and offering to put together an "Around Memphis in 1923" piece? If the big time press doesn't bite, there are usually lots of smaller weekly or special interest papers that would appreciate your story and photos. It would be nice to share your knowledge.

 

Thanks for the good work!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

Dave

 

PS I just read your post describing the quality of turn by turn descriptions. You are absolutely correct....the older the date, the more detailed the turn by turn...for obvious reasons. But the 1924-26 ABB's have one advantage, they typically offer a descriptive introduction to a road and often the surface and road conditions, something lacking in early editions. Just a comment.

 

Dave

 

Thanks for the idea Dave - I amended my report by adding the road condition info, at least for that section that is pertinent to this.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Excellent work! I especially like the photo of the bridge with all the grooves in the deck, and the one where the old alignment of 51 dead ends - check that narrow pavement at the very end! Oh, and that narrow RR overpass is wild.

 

jim

 

Yeah, Jim - imagine rolling the old Hudson thru that at 2 in the morning with a snoot full!!!! :D

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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I kind of matched up my last year's drive with yours and see that I reached that intersection in Brighton then continued on Old Highway 51 where you turned on Woodlawn. That was OK since my intent was to follow 51 but Old Memphis Road looks cool. Something for next time.

 

I have a copy of the Ernie Pyle book you mentioned and checked something in it just a week or so ago. I didn't even know that he was a travel writer until I stopped at his birthplace in Dana, IN, a couple of years back. I guess I thought he just became a famous war correspondent over night. I bought a small collection of articles there then bought a used copy of "Ernie's America" (probably from Alibris:-) later. I was fascinated.

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