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American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Let Us Now Praise Other Famous Highways

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We wanted to wait until all the backslapping, high-fiving and media fawning for that other road faded. Now it's time to celebrate a few more birthdays.


US 80- Hatched in 1914 as a Sunday drive across Georgia, the Dixie Overland Highway by 1926 had matured into a 2,600-mile broadway, hooking the Atlantic to the Pacific.


Early on, its promoters promised, "the shortest, straightest, and only year round, ocean to ocean highway in the United States." And one of them, J.S. Blecker, felt no qualm in heralding it "the most important project that the people of the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts have ever cooperated in." Wow.


Bonnie and Clyde used it as a getaway, Martin Luther King marched down it to Selma and Borat -- if you noticed -- drove its modern day equivalent to find Pamela in California.


Cool fact: US 80's eastern terminus is actually an island -- Tybee Island, Georgia. (Did they ever find the bomb?)


US 90- We find no hyperbole in calling it the toughest highway ever built.


The Old Spanish Trail got a tough assignment from the go, needing to bridge nearly 300 miles of rivers, swamps and muck draining off from the mighty Mississippi. Other continental crusaders had an easier ride: simply stitching together existing roads, bridging the occasional river and finding a negotiable pass around the Rockies.


By 1922, with an arm-twisted endorsement from the Acting Secretary of War, the OST was "essential" and catching up with its competitors to the north.


Now we're catching up on building the expectations for these two cross-country wonders. There is a mountain of work to do, but folks in California and San Antonio are already brightening the way.


US 80 and US 90, HAPPY 80TH!



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  • 3 weeks later...

On opposite ends of the country, there are some great remanants of the original roads.


I was facinated with the remaining brick stretch of US 90 when I visited Milton, Fla. a couple of years ago. The brick pavement is preserved next to the current US 90 alignment for several miles. As rare as it is to find any road artifacts these days, this long stretch of brick pavement is truly remarkable. Found a web site that shows photos: Florida @ SouthEastRoads.com.


Then there's US 80 through the Imperial Valley in California. Large portions of the original concrete road, which ran west of the plank road through the dunes, are visible next to what's now called the Evan Hewes Highway. Hard to believe how narrow these roads are... even in the '20s one car would have to pull off the highway to let the other pass.

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