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More Old Maps, Road Guides, Etc

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If you are interested in old road maps, road guides, and other related travel ephemera, post here to describe that interest. Let’s see if we can get a thread going.

 

I have a collection that I use primarily to enhance road trips. I don’t collect any specific company’s material. I do tend to look for western states items because I live and travel there.

 

Most of my material goes back to the Auto Trails days, before numbered US highways, but I do have later material as well.

 

In the interest of kindling a response to this post, I am going to comment on a few categories of material in my collection.

 

I like strip maps. I have more than 200, mostly from the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC), but from other producers as well, including a nice set from the teens in Washington State.

 

One of the nice things about strip maps is their detail. No atlas or state map has the same degree of detail.

 

I enjoy old travel guides. For example, I have a 1911 guide book from the ACSC that is filled with detailed road directions and full page maps for most of the state. It is a real gem. My 1916 Lincoln Highway guide is carefully wrapped, but a facsimile copy gets lots of use.

 

Another favorite is the Automobile Blue Books (ABB). My earliest only go back to 1910, and those of the west to 1915 or so. If you wonder where an old road went, the turn by turn directions will tell you. It is also fun to spot an old business, garage, or hotel described or pictured in the ABB, and take a “now” photo.

 

One of the nice details of the ABB in the early to mid 1920’s is the road descriptions that accompanied each route (at least in the west). If you wonder what the road was like, these are invaluable.

 

Another favorite is the Hobbs, and later the Gousha guides. These showed both road condition (paved, gravel, dirt, etc) and the grade (hills, etc). Perhaps as interesting to me are the recommendations as to accommodations and services.

 

I have several of Rand McNally’s Auto Trails maps from the teens and twenties, and their commercial atlas for the year (was it 1926?) it contained all the auto trails maps by state.

 

Well, there is a shotgun start to a thread. Any takers?

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I don't have a large collection, but I use a few tools that have come in handy whilst exploring old roads.

 

My oldest is a 1926 Automobile Blue Book, Vol. 2 (Southeast and Mid Atlantic). The road descriptions were still there, but whenever the route followed a state highway, the turn-by-turn directions stopped. Luckily (for me, anyway), Mississippi didn't implement a state highway system until 1931.

 

My second oldest item is a 1932 Rand McNally map of Mississippi. It's helpful since the ABB map shows almost no roads other than ABB routes. It also shows the subtle (some not so subtle) changes in the state highway system. Also handy are the ten or so city maps.

 

My most practical for roadtrips (thus, the one I never leave at home) is a 1957 Rand McNally 48 state, Canada and Mexico atlas. There are some four lane and expressway segments shown, but there isn't an Interstate shield to be found.

 

I have several newer atlases (next-oldest is 1981), but until I'm out of college, I don't have much to spend on collecting maps/travel guides. I spend enough on gasoline as it is <grin>.

 

CityBoy1986

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I don't have a large collection, but I use a few tools that have come in handy whilst exploring old roads.

 

My oldest is a 1926 Automobile Blue Book, Vol. 2 (Southeast and Mid Atlantic). The road descriptions were still there, but whenever the route followed a state highway, the turn-by-turn directions stopped. Luckily (for me, anyway), Mississippi didn't implement a state highway system until 1931.

 

My second oldest item is a 1932 Rand McNally map of Mississippi. It's helpful since the ABB map shows almost no roads other than ABB routes. It also shows the subtle (some not so subtle) changes in the state highway system. Also handy are the ten or so city maps.

 

My most practical for roadtrips (thus, the one I never leave at home) is a 1957 Rand McNally 48 state, Canada and Mexico atlas. There are some four lane and expressway segments shown, but there isn't an Interstate shield to be found.

 

I have several newer atlases (next-oldest is 1981), but until I'm out of college, I don't have much to spend on collecting maps/travel guides. I spend enough on gasoline as it is <grin>.

 

CityBoy1986

 

Thanks for the post!

 

Right, the old Blue Books are a good source of directions until the route they were describing was paved over by a freeway, or the like!

 

It is tough to get old maps of Mississippi. Apparently it wasn’t a big touring state like say California or New York. Where do you find your maps? Ebay or locally?

 

I see your home is in Mississippi. A great state! I have a good friend in Coffeeville. He is (or was) chairman of the Mississippi Civil War Commission. We met because my great grandfather was a member of the infamous 7th Kansas Cavalry who were in northern and central Mississippi during the Civil War. The 7th got its b** whipped at Coffeeville and great grandfather nearly got killed. Lucky for me, he didn’t!!!

 

I’ve been to Mississippi only once five years ago, but thoroughly enjoyed the two lane roads I traveled. Fascinating small towns dot the countryside, and I would give a bundle right now for some good ribs prepared in the Mississippi manner!

 

My 90 year old uncle wanted to see where his grandfather had been so we landed at Baton Rouge and worked our way north to Corinth. Of course we stopped in Natchez and followed the Trace for a ways.

 

I missed so much along the way, I would enjoy getting back one day when I had more time. I don’t think Mississippi gets enough credit for its old roads. Have you posted any trip descriptions or photos. I would enjoy seeing some.

 

I see you must be near US 11. It looks like a fascinating route. I will have to take a closer look at it. If you do any photographs of the area, please share them if you get a chance.

 

Back to the maps. I have a 1927 Automobile Blue Book of the “Mid South.” By 1927 they didn’t need the turn by turn directions anymore, and it is more like a modern AAA Tour Book. It does have great photos and descriptions. Unfortunately it is in bad shape.

 

And right again, any map without an interstate shield is good. I carry a couple of old Shell pre freeway maps in the side panel of the door, just to have them handy wherever I drive. The whole travel experience changes when you get off the freeway.

 

Thanks again for the feedback! It helps Keep the Show on the Road

Edited by Keep the Show on the Road!

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I like the sound of the old maps and guides. Unfortunately living in Liverpool, not alot of American guides get over although I have a great old postcard book of Venice and a old travel guide to Denmark complete with map. I even found an old camera with a half used roll of slide film still inside. Still haven't gotten it developed yet. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the states to hopefully dig out some old guides at the thrift stores and yard sales. I tried to stop at the yard sales when we over last year. We were on Rt 211 in Virginia but the backseat teenage drivers had no time or patience for such things that don't involve air conditioning and food. :(

It was great reading about your collections.

Kind Regards!

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I like the sound of the old maps and guides. Unfortunately living in Liverpool, not alot of American guides get over although I have a great old postcard book of Venice and a old travel guide to Denmark complete with map. I even found an old camera with a half used roll of slide film still inside. Still haven't gotten it developed yet. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the states to hopefully dig out some old guides at the thrift stores and yard sales. I tried to stop at the yard sales when we over last year. We were on Rt 211 in Virginia but the backseat teenage drivers had no time or patience for such things that don't involve air conditioning and food. :(

It was great reading about your collections.

Kind Regards!

 

Living in England you don’t have to take a back seat on maps!! Nor absolutely amazing two lane roads, (some closer to one lane with hedgerows!)

 

When I was in Hay on Wye bookstores years ago I picked up as many old Great Britain maps as I could put my hands on. They are beautifully done, and some are works of art! Mine aren’t valuable, but they are treasured in my collection.

 

I’ll have to pull a few out and enjoy them again!

 

The British are master map makers, and guide makers to boot. I don’t think they get the kind of attention here they deserve! And of course your AA produces excellent modern maps and guides that are invaluable.

 

I used to own a 1958 MGA, jet black with red interior, with spoke wheels, so I can claim a little British auto knowledge. In fact I still have the spanner out of the tool kit. Driving it was hands down the most fun you can have and not go to jail!

 

I bicycled England, Wales, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland in the 1970’s on a two month visit, and Sheila and I have been twice by auto to visit. In 1977 I bicycled over the Snowdonia road through Bleanau Ffestiniog into Llandudno, then out to Hollyhead.. Sheila and I drove it a few years ago, and I am glad I made that ride when I was still in my 30’s! That area can’t be more than 50 miles from Liverpool.

 

We have missed Liverpool (because I avoid big cities), but have been within 15 miles a couple of times. As you well know, you have some jaw dropping beautiful and historic two lane road scenery within 30 or 35 miles of Liverpool. Just thinking about it makes me want to scout budget air fares. I can almost taste a good old fashioned English breakfast served on a white tablecloth at a country bed and breakfast!

 

I know the forum is American Roads, but why don’t you give us a post of a two lane road trip in England. I doubt that those who have never visited realize the beauty and great roadside interest that would await them on a trip to your country. Like here, get off the motorway and onto the A and better yet, the B roads!

 

Make our week and post some road trip photos from your part of the world, if you get a chance. I would love to see the area again.

 

Thanks for helping to Keep the Show on the Road

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I certainly find what old maps I have very useful in trip planning but it's more of an accumulation than an organized collection. And the acquisition wasn't particularly organized either. While what I have lets me find general routing, I find I'm getting a little more concerned with details and often coming up short. Guess I should start keeping an eye on eBay again.

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I certainly find what old maps I have very useful in trip planning but it's more of an accumulation than an organized collection. And the acquisition wasn't particularly organized either. While what I have lets me find general routing, I find I'm getting a little more concerned with details and often coming up short. Guess I should start keeping an eye on eBay again.

 

I know exactly what you mean! I have many of my maps and travel guides in drawers, which makes them virtually impossible to easily locate. I did find a fairly simple way to organize them, however. I bought 2.5 or 3 inch wide binders and those clear sheet protectors. I then put a map in each sheet protector, grouping them by state or type. Now they sit on a shelf nicely.

 

I imagine I have one of the most comprehensive road map and guide collection in the Northwest (I’m sure Ypsi Slim of this forum has much more, but he’s not in the Northwest!).

 

I enjoy following an old road in my easy chair, then trying it on the ground, so to speak. I use the Automobile Blue Books a lot because they give pretty detailed descriptions and you can run the road both directions. For many of the western routes I also have strip maps, which are pretty good. I combine that with Delorme’s Topo maps on CD, which most often show the old road, and if necessary an aerial image like Google earth.

 

When you can find them, the historic USGS topos are also great. Many were done in the teens or 20’s. If you are following an old road, they will nail it down to a nat’s eyebrow. There are websites with most of the Northeast available, and some universities have made their collections available on line (eg Chico State in California, Washington State in Washington, etc)

 

In the Northwest and Northern California, the Medsker County Maps of the late 1940’s and early1950’s (pre freeway) are very useful, and usually cheap. We didn’t destroy or abandon a lot of roads between 1920 and 1950. Mostly we upgraded. I don’t think it was until the advent of humongous road building equipment that we cut through mountains, filled valleys and bee-lined the system.

 

There is nothing like being there to identify the old routes, but on a cold Northwest evening I can enjoy a virtual trip via map. And if one of the forum members has 49 trips already documented, on his website I can “virtually” drive the road!

 

PS. Did you ever read my second post (after I got home) regarding the Old National Trails Route question you posed. The ABB description of the Gallup route was as negative as I have ever read. It sure explained why the Springerville route was preferred!

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Living in England you don’t have to take a back seat on maps!! Nor absolutely amazing two lane roads, (some closer to one lane with hedgerows!)

 

When I was in Hay on Wye bookstores years ago I picked up as many old Great Britain maps as I could put my hands on. They are beautifully done, and some are works of art! Mine aren’t valuable, but they are treasured in my collection.

 

I bicycled England, Wales, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland in the 1970’s on a two month visit, and Sheila and I have been twice by auto to visit. In 1977 I bicycled over the Snowdonia road through Bleanau Ffestiniog into Llandudno, then out to Hollyhead.. Sheila and I drove it a few years ago, and I am glad I made that ride when I was still in my 30’s! That area can’t be more than 50 miles from Liverpool.

 

I know the forum is American Roads, but why don’t you give us a post of a two lane road trip in England. I doubt that those who have never visited realize the beauty and great roadside interest that would await them on a trip to your country. Like here, get off the motorway and onto the A and better yet, the B roads!

 

Make our week and post some road trip photos from your part of the world, if you get a chance. I would love to see the area again.

 

Thanks for helping to Keep the Show on the Road

 

I've been to Hay on Wye, a book lovers paradise. And Snowdonia. We were taking the scenic route on the way to Port Merion and we were going down a single lane road that was meant for two way traffic. The ride was frightening but the scenery was amazing. Unfortunately I don't have any photos from that trip. I have posted a few for your from our trip to Edale in the Peak District. Edale is a small little village with a pub on each end surrounded by breathtaking hills. We stayed in a stone farmhouse that had been converted to a B&B. Later this month we hope to get up to Edinburgh. Hope you like the picturespost-1531-1175894818_thumb.jpg. post-1531-1175894887_thumb.jpgpost-1531-1175894951_thumb.jpg

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<snipped parts to save bandwidth>

 

It is tough to get old maps of Mississippi. Apparently it wasn’t a big touring state like say California or New York. Where do you find your maps? Ebay or locally?

 

I’ve been to Mississippi only once five years ago, but thoroughly enjoyed the two lane roads I traveled. Fascinating small towns dot the countryside, and I would give a bundle right now for some good ribs prepared in the Mississippi manner!

 

My 90 year old uncle wanted to see where his grandfather had been so we landed at Baton Rouge and worked our way north to Corinth. Of course we stopped in Natchez and followed the Trace for a ways.

 

I missed so much along the way, I would enjoy getting back one day when I had more time. I don’t think Mississippi gets enough credit for its old roads. Have you posted any trip descriptions or photos. I would enjoy seeing some.

 

I see you must be near US 11. It looks like a fascinating route. I will have to take a closer look at it. If you do any photographs of the area, please share them if you get a chance.

 

Back to the maps. I have a 1927 Automobile Blue Book of the “Mid South.” By 1927 they didn’t need the turn by turn directions anymore, and it is more like a modern AAA Tour Book. It does have great photos and descriptions. Unfortunately it is in bad shape.

 

I bought my Mississippi map on eBay. I must have been searching at the right time since my first search found it. The map's not strictly Mississippi; it also covers Ark. and La., a practice that is continued today in some maps.

 

I go between college and home every two weeks (about 400 miles roundtrip), so I have plenty of chances to drive the two-lane roads. I've driven every practical route between the two locales, meaning it is time to discover the impractical routes (although some would say that using a two-lane when there's an interstate highway nearby is impractical). I don't have any photos of U.S. 11, but I have some of an abandoned bridge on U.S. 45 that I will share. This summer I hope to take more trips and snap more pictures.

 

I'm glad I opted for the 1926 version of ABB instead of the 1927! My copy is in surprisingly good shape. The only bad spots are the map holder and the map.

 

CityBoy1986

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