Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
Keep the Show on the Road!

The Newest Transcontinental Auto Trail

Recommended Posts

The first transcontinental auto trail along the diagonal from Key West to the Puget Sound will be blazed in a couple of weeks.

 

The All American Hypotenuse Trail will begin at Key West on the Overseas Highway, cross the Everglades where Al Capone hung out, pick up the Dixie Highway northbound, swing low along the Gulf Coast of Florida, take the Great River Road along the muddy Mississippi, wind through the Ozarks, seek the quintessential small town in Kansas, travel toward the sunset on the old Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean, bee line north to hit the Lincoln in Nebraska, and do the Oregon Trail in Wyoming on the way west. Then the trail rises to almost 10,000 feet across the Rockies and into the Stanley Basin of Idaho, rolling forever northwestward through rural Eastern Washington, and across White Pass along the shoulder of Mount Rainier and onward to the Puget Sound.

 

Renowned trail blazer “Keep the Show on the Road” will file his regular telegraphic WiFi reports in the style, if not the quality, of Denny G, Stay tuned between April 17 and early May for the mile by mile description of the roads less traveled…a slice of America off the Interstate. No part of the trip will be on the “I” roads and as much as possible will be on two lanes. Others may follow and improve the trail, but Keep will be the first to blaze the Hypotenuse.

 

The hype and attempted humor aside, I am looking forward to this trip! I usually “target” my road trips to my early 20th century auto trails collection, but for the most part this trip is being guided by the America described in the WPA American Guide Series published about 1940. I picked up those I didn’t have for states along the Hypotenuse and studied the routes they described.

 

It is hard not to find must see places. For example I will cross the Mississippi at Helena, on a beautiful and often photographed bridge….but I will also follow Missouri Street down to the old ferry landing…because that was the way you crossed the Mississippi in 1940.

 

In 1940 America was still a land of very distinct regions, and very local economies. The villages and towns were very much a product of the local industry, whether it was fishing, lumbering, farming, mill work, or growing cotton.

 

Reading the 1940 descriptions of small towns along the route, and looking at the thousands of photos posted on the web that display the same towns today, it is evident that the world really has changed. Lovely brick buildings with empty windows line the streets of many small towns. I can’t see through the eyes of our younger members here, but I tend to fill in the children going into the drug store for candy, or the women going from butcher to greengrocer for the makings of the evening meal, or the men standing in groups of two or three discussing the news and weather.

 

A trip along the Hypotenuse will be like a movie for me where the road provides the setting and my mind the characters. But I don’t know if the younger members here look at deserted small town stores or abandoned rail lines like I look at stagecoach stops….kind of like archeological specimens. Can you “see” the land as it was…or does that even matter? Maybe CityBoy, our resident historian can shed some light here.

 

BTW, is anyone in need of information about the Delorme Topo USA maps or their PN-20 GPS? I ask because I am amazed at how well these items are working in routing a trip and putting it on the GPS to navigate. Build your route on the computer, upload it to the PN-20, and never miss a turn. And when you load the free detailed map set on the supplied SD card, you have maps down to the chuckhole level.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In 1940 America was still a land of very distinct regions, and very local economies. The villages and towns were very much a product of the local industry, whether it was fishing, lumbering, farming, mill work, or growing cotton.

 

Reading the 1940 descriptions of small towns along the route, and looking at the thousands of photos posted on the web that display the same towns today, it is evident that the world really has changed. Lovely brick buildings with empty windows line the streets of many small towns. I can’t see through the eyes of our younger members here, but I tend to fill in the children going into the drug store for candy, or the women going from butcher to greengrocer for the makings of the evening meal, or the men standing in groups of two or three discussing the news and weather.

 

A trip along the Hypotenuse will be like a movie for me where the road provides the setting and my mind the characters. But I don’t know if the younger members here look at deserted small town stores or abandoned rail lines like I look at stagecoach stops….kind of like archeological specimens. Can you “see” the land as it was…or does that even matter? Maybe CityBoy, our resident historian can shed some light here.

 

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Godspeed Keep. We anxiously await your reports.

 

I am right on the cusp of those recollections. I was born in '63 and have some recollections of the small town and regionality that you mention, but its a memory that may not be from actual experience but rather a perception of how it was that was formed after the fact. If that makes any sense. I think those of us who grew up in the 60's, 70's, and 80's saw the tail end of a great transformation of American Society that started in the 1940's when we made the move from a regionally based economy to a global one, which is the world we live in today.

 

By the time I started to experience the freedom of my teenage years the small downtown with its stores and shops had been replaced by large shopping malls, non-descript strip malls, and wharehouse size stores. That is especially true growing up in California. The city I grew up in did have a downtown but I can honestly say that I only went there once or twice. The destination of choice was the mall.

 

I hope you find a taste of what this country was like back then.

 

Roadhound

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys for the replies!

 

I am prepared to make an exceptional offer. As I travel the Hypotenuse, I will collect small samples of America at the ground level…Mississippi Mud, Gulf Coast White Sand, Oregon Trail Dust, Rocky Mountain rock, Dixie Highway gravel…...you get the picture.

 

On my return home, or on the way, I’ll mail to members of the Hypotenuse Trail Association little pieces of America. I call it the “This land is Your Land, this Land is My Land” connection.

 

That way, if you are one of the few who don’t have plans to follow the Hypotenuse this summer, you can still enjoy it. All you have to do to get in on this incredible offer is to post a comment regarding the trail here on the American Road Forum before or during the Trail Blazing and send me by personal message (or e-mail) a mailing address. You will automatically be enrolled as a charter member of the Hypotenuse Trail Association with all the rights privileges and responsibilities thereto appertaining.

 

First Vice President, Mobilene, and I might also make up membership cards, but we haven’t discussed this yet.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All you have to do to get in on this incredible offer is to post a comment regarding the trail here on the American Road Forum before or during the Trail Blazing and send me by personal message (or e-mail) a mailing address. You will automatically be enrolled as a charter member of the Hypotenuse Trail Association with all the rights privileges and responsibilities thereto appertaining.

I can't turn down the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something this groundbreaking! My contact info will follow.

 

Your descriptions make the trail sound so beautiful, I can't wait to see the guide book with the beautiful photos.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave, maybe you could get some gov'mint funding for the guidebook! You could write the next WPA Guide!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't turn down the opportunity to get in on the ground floor...

Right now I think it's almost all ground with very little floor. But I guess I better join up, too. As long as I don't have to do any appertaining. The check for my dues is in the mail.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome Denny and Chris as charter members of the Hypotenuse Trail Association! Membership has doubled :rolleyes: in a short time, and prospects for further growth are good, as the fame of the Hypotenuse spreads! I cannot promise that we can sustain this rate of growth however! :lol:

 

The Chief Pathfinder has been re studying maps this morning and has determined that there may be a way to avoid I 80 at the west end of the Lincoln Highway oxbow that runs between Larimie and Walcot, Wyoming. As excited as I am to follow the Lincoln in Wyoming, and savor Brian Butko's descriptions in Greetings from the Lincoln Highway in that area, I did not wish to be forced onto the Interstate for even a few miles.

 

If the steel truss bridge across the North Platte (41.751857, -106.948743) is still open along the old road north of the interstate, it looks like I could stay off the interstate all the way to Rawlins before I turn north toward Wind River (US287), and then southward (State 28) over South Pass on the Oregon Trail.

 

On the troubling side, Brian describes viewing the steel truss bridge from the interstate and Google Earth displays what may be a barrier a few hundred yards to the west of the bridge (not visible in Virtual Earth). Can anyone here answer whether I can take the Medicine Bow Lincoln Highway segment westbound and then get to Rawlins without picking up I-80, recognizing I may need to follow a bit of dirt road west of the North Platte.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can anyone here answer whether I can take the Medicine Bow Lincoln Highway segment westbound and then get to Rawlins without picking up I-80, recognizing I may need to follow a bit of dirt road west of the North Platte.

It looks like the Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site is just west of that bridge. Maybe you could call a dutiful civil servant at the office listed at that web site to see whether you could get more local information about the frontage road and bridge. The office is in Sinclair, and they should know, I would think.

 

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It looks like the Fort Fred Steele State Historic Site is just west of that bridge. Maybe you could call a dutiful civil servant at the office listed at that web site to see whether you could get more local information about the frontage road and bridge. The office is in Sinclair, and they should know, I would think.

 

Chris

 

Chris,

 

Now that's the kind of thinking we need in the Hypotenuse Trial Association!!

 

I called the Fort number but got the message machine. I will try again later and report the results. It looks like the bridge is open, as there is no break in the road on two different modern maps, and if it is, I can swing north once across the North Platt, stop at the fort, and follow the railrod tracks to Sinclair. Or turn south and follow along the south side of the interstate.

 

Brian mentions two towns on the old Lincoln Highway in the area (Granville and Lakota) They don't pop up on my modern maps, so I am going to look at old guides. Maybe they are along an open route. The big barrier is the North Platt, and I'm not into fording rivers in rented cars!

 

If I can stay off the interstate in that short section, I can avoid a 100 + mile detour.

 

So if the sun shines and the river don't rise, I'm headed for the open road!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am prepared to make an exceptional offer. As I travel the Hypotenuse, I will collect small samples of America at the ground level…Mississippi Mud, Gulf Coast White Sand, Oregon Trail Dust, Rocky Mountain rock, Dixie Highway gravel…...you get the picture.

 

As First Vice President, how can I not accept this generous offer? Check your PM box for the contact info.

 

I've been thinking about membership cards, but I imagine that getting them cut along the diagonal is really stinking expensive!

 

jim

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can anyone here answer whether I can take the Medicine Bow Lincoln Highway segment westbound and then get to Rawlins without picking up I-80, recognizing I may need to follow a bit of dirt road west of the North Platte.

I suggest posting the question in the Lincoln Highway sub-forum here. Brian might catch it here but I imagine you'll have better luck with a short question there.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I suggest posting the question in the Lincoln Highway sub-forum here. Brian might catch it here but I imagine you'll have better luck with a short question there.

 

Denny,

 

Ah...another recommendation worthy of a charter member! I took the advice!

 

Chris,

 

I tried again sending a signal to the Fort via land line, but have not gotten a reply to my message yet. I'm not sure if the scouts are in the saddle, or the Fort is under attack! You know how it is in the wild west!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As First Vice President, how can I not accept this generous offer? Check your PM box for the contact info.

 

I've been thinking about membership cards, but I imagine that getting them cut along the diagonal is really stinking expensive!

 

jim

 

Mr First Vice President,

 

If they are going to cut the cards in half anyway, see if you can cut (get it..."cut") a two-for-one deal! :P

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×