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Sampson Trails...follow That Piano!

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I ran across an unfamiliar symbol looking at a 1927 Rand McNally road map (see left side of map). "What in the heck was a Sampson Trail?", I asked myself. I’d never heard of an auto trail by that name. A little Google Books research turned up an interesting tale.

 

It seems that a fellow by the name of Charlie Sampson, who owned a piano store in Boise in 1914 got lost one day while on the road. On his return to Boise he tried to get the powers-that-be to take on the task of signing roads around Boise, to no avail.

 

Charlie ,being an enterprising fellow ,decided to do it himself, and soon his orange and black signs were well recognized in Idaho. Of course “Pianos” worked its way into many of the signs! :rolleyes: The square's with letters on the map show his routes. In the end, his work extended into five western states. At his own expense he kept a crew of three busy painting signs.

 

In 1933 the Idaho highway department, which had not done as well as Charlie in posting signs, decided that Sampson’s signs were an eyesore, and determined that he would be prohibited from continuing his efforts. The Idaho Legislature, however, thought better of his years of service, and passed a law permitting, nay, encouraging him to continue.

 

Sampson died in 1935, but even today a few remnants of his signs still exist. More artifacts to watch for!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

ARIdahoSampson.jpg

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What a hoot! I love stories like this, of modern-day pioneers who persisted. I'd love to see one of this fellow's signs.

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Wonderful! Pianos/real estate, Sampson Trails/Dixie Highway. Sounds like George was the Carl Fisher of the west -- without all the fund raising.

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Wonderful! Pianos/real estate, Sampson Trails/Dixie Highway. Sounds like George was the Carl Fisher of the west -- without all the fund raising.

 

Denny,

 

I have the feeling that there is a story there for a freelance writer. Apparently the signs were well known, and he didn't just do signs. He painted fence posts, telephone poles, rocks, and whatever worked. I wonder how far I'd get if I tried that on the old National Parks Highway!

 

The reason I was looking at the map is that I want to track the 1903 route of Horatio Nelson Jackson , Bud, the dog, and Sewell K Crocker on the firts transcontinental auto trip. It goes through Idaho in an area where Sampson was later busy with his paint brush. I may spot one of them, if and when I do the trip.

 

I have puzzled why Jackson went through Hailey (map center, due east of Boise), which seems out of the way, but the 1927 map shows a road going that way, and not directly east and west as US20 does today.. A look at Google shows a road as still there, following a canyon.....which suggests I might actually be able to follow in their probable track, or darn close.

 

It isn't hard to figure where they went to get to Arco, because there is a gigantic lava field at Craters of the Moon, and wagons (a branch of the Oregon Trail) , and certainly a pioneer car, followed the north edge of the lava.

 

Dave

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Wow--that is quite a map. Don't think I've seen one of that vintage before, just a year after the establishment of the first US highways. Exactly two years ago today I was driving from Boise to Craters of the Moon, and then onwards to Idaho Falls and eventually to Grand Teton, arriving well after darkness fell. What an easy day's drive today, and what a difficult, multi-day journey it was in 1927!

Just curious: Are the other boxed letter symbols other marked trails? I would assume that many of those were still around even after the advent of numbered state and federal routes.

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Wow--that is quite a map. Don't think I've seen one of that vintage before, just a year after the establishment of the first US highways. Exactly two years ago today I was driving from Boise to Craters of the Moon, and then onwards to Idaho Falls and eventually to Grand Teton, arriving well after darkness fell. What an easy day's drive today, and what a difficult, multi-day journey it was in 1927!

Just curious: Are the other boxed letter symbols other marked trails? I would assume that many of those were still around even after the advent of numbered state and federal routes.

 

I think the other boxed letters are Sampson Trails. I have thousands of these old maps, mostly pre 1930. Most are in boxes right now but if you want a 1926 Arizona map try my old and dormant web site

 

HERE

 

and

 

HERE

 

(Click on a map to zoom in)

 

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I think the other boxed letters are Sampson Trails.

Dave

 

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Duh! Now I get it--all of the boxed letters are Sampson Trails, not just the "A" that is used as an example.

 

The old AZ map and the early 66/Santa Fe Trail map and guide are great--thanks!

The style of the latter map reminds me so much of early airline schedules of similar or slightly later vintage, of which I have a small collection (I have hundreds of schedules, but only a small percentage are prewar--the oldest from 1930). They're so much fun to read and examine, just as this map and travel guide is.

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