For the most part, we take our cross-country highways for granted. Sometimes, we even seem to despise them. However, for over fifty years the interstate highway network commissioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower has supported the United States’ incredible growth from coast to coast and border to border during the 20th century.
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I bought a Miata for my daughter. My son had just gotten his drivers license, he and I flew back to Detroit, picked up the Miata and headed home for Los Angeles.
Only Two Rules - NO freeways, only two-lanes, and NO restaurants we had ever heard of or seen advertised.
We went to every National Park or Monument we could find on the way.
THAT is how to see America!!
A few years ago, my wife and I did a four-month driving tour of Australia. One day found us in a caravan (motorist's) park in Sale, Victoria. After I did some business in the office, the young woman minding the desk said, "You're American, right?" I answered in the affirmative. She said, "Have you ever heard of Route 66?" Seems she and her husband had signed up to do a tour with several other couples. They would fly to L.A., and then drive caravan style in rented Ford Mustangs to Chicago, following Route 66. I told her she would have a great time. Americana exported to the World. Two years ago, my wife and I finally got around to doing the entirety of Route 66, Chicago to Santa Monica, and it was an amazing trip. We averaged 200 miles a day, used Jerry McClanahan's guide, had a couple of other books for reference, and did what field research we could on the way. Loved (almost) every mile. Standing on the Sta Monica pier, we looked at each other and said, we've got to do this again!
We spend quite a bit of time banging around the back roads, try to stay off the Interstates when we can. America is just a lot more interesting that way. Next on our list is U.S. Highway 80, the Dixie Overland Highway. This one we'll have to dig out by ourselves. Hope they let me drive coast-to-coast this winter!
If anyone wants to read more about the creation of the US Highway System, I recommend the book “The Big Roads” by Earl Swift. It had a lot of interesting information. For example, the system was not initiated by Dwight Eisenhower. It was developed during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. It sat idle during the war years. President Eisenhower picked it up and pushed it through.
You forgot about the 5 mile rule which called for every five miles, the highway needed to be able to handle an aircraft emergency landing. Not sure if they still offer this feature but the Germans used their roads for military aircraft landings and take offs during WWll.
One thing that the story missed. Even numbered highways run east and west, numbered from south to to north. Odd numbered run north and south, numbered west to east.
Except in Atlanta. North of Atlanta I-75 and I-85 follow the national trend. South of Atlanta they switch and I-85 is west of I-75. I have never found an explanation as to why.
You forgot the 5 mile rule that every five miles there needs to be a clear section for aircraft emergency landing use needed. Not sure if that is still in force but the Germans used their roadways for military aircraft use during WWll
I totaled a deer and a vehicle hitting an 8-point buck several years ago, and my wife damaged her GrandPrix a few years ago hitting a deer (who left the scene) - a mile from home! Nevertheless, to us, the experience of the two-lanes and back roads is worth the animal risk.
While travelling to our winter destination on the Gulf, I tired of the interstate and convinced my "time conscious" wife to travel the side roads. We were thoroughly enjoying the back roads when a coyote ran in front of us and I hit it squarely with the Forester! No damage to the Subaru, but we decided to get back on the interstate.
Being a native Atlantan and having gone to Georgia Tech just a scant few years after those photos were taken, I recognized the road immediately. Georgia Tech would be to the right in those photos behind the trees. You can see the sign for the iconic Varsity drive-in to the left. I, too, had fun identifying the cars but one has me stumped. In the first photo, there is a small station wagon immediately to the right of a 1964 Olds wagon. I first thought it was a Datsun 410 and then a early-60's Opel Kadett, but I can't find any pictures that match. Anyone know?