Skip to main content

What would be the 'Route 66' of the East?

After Saturday's trip into Southside Virginia - and all of the great pre-Interstate businesses we found, active and abandoned - I started to think about the Old US 66 trip I did last spring.  There are plenty of sites (motor courts, restaurants, neon signs, small towns) and situations (bypassed by the interstate, abandoned businesses, empty two and sometimes four lane roads) similar to that of the revered "Mother Road".

So I have come up with five routes along with reasons for and against being the East Coast version of Route 66.

US 1: The Backbone US Route of the East Coast - Travels through major cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.  Parallels Interstates 85 and 95 for significant portions of the route.  However, runs as an independent route from Henderson, NC to Jacksonville, FL.

US 301: Bypassed and pretty much ignored by long distanced travelers by Interstate 95 from Richmond/Petersburg, VA to south of Florence, SC.  Roadside America attraction; South of the Border.  It wasn't a major route in the 40's or 50's.  Traffic south to Florida went via US 1 or the Ocean Highway.

US 29: Major US Highway serving Washington, Charlotte, and Atlanta.  Parallels and is bypassed by Interstate 85 from Greensboro, NC to Tuskegee, AL.  Unfortunately, this route doesn't have the lore of a US 1 or Route 66.

Dixie Highway (Various US Routes): It was the main route to Florida from the Midwest and dates from the Auto Trails Era.  Much of the Dixie Highway became US Routes that would in turn fall to nearby Interstates. The numerous branches of the Dixie Highway makes it difficult to trace a specific route.

Ocean Highway (US 13/US 17): Created to help promote tourism along the coast, the Ocean Highway was the closest to the coast of all N/S routes.  Mainly serves small towns, cities, and resort areas.  For the most part untouched by an Interstate.

So which of these five highways do you consider as the East Coast's "Route 66"?  Or do you have another highway in mind?  Let me know by leaving a comment!

Comments

jimgrey said…
I don't know the other routes, but I do have some experience with the Dixie, and that's the one I'd choose. I like it because you can still drive most of it, but there are lots of old alignments available for folks (like me) who like that sort of thing.
Steve said…
In 1962, Georgia opened it's first welcome center on US 301, back when it was a heavily traveled tourist route to Florida.

The welcome center was almost shut down until a state-local partnership saved it.

BTW, it is America's oldest functioning welcome center.
Rob Adams said…
I agree with Steve. It would be US 301 for me, probably most of all because of the amount of times my family traveled it between 1969 and 1975 to shuttle us between Santee, SC and Ocala, FL. I'd be interested in driving it again one day.
Opie said…
US 11. I've driven it in sections from Carlisle, PA to Bristol, TN and although I'm not old enough to remember this before the interstate system, it is still one of the more usable old school highways in the country. It runs parallel on I-81 from Syracuse all the way down to Knoxville, but when it's not concurrent to the interstate, it's one of the more scenic drives, especially in and through Virginia.
mike said…
I got to agree with Opie, US Rt 11 is by far the closest. US 1 is too far gone, but maybe 20-30 years ago had tons of possibilities.
US 19 is decent, the Dixie highway has stretches, especially in Michigan and Ohio, but I wouldn't call that the East Coast.
US 29 is very enjoyable, especially with the 4 lanes through Virginia, but it's missing something.

US 11 is incredible. So much history in each state, let alone as a piece together. I was a little disappointed by 11 in eastern Tennessee, but maybe I took the wrong piece.

Popular posts from this blog

Quemahoning Tunnel

The Quemahoning Tunnel may have never been built by the Pennsylvanina Turnpike Commission, but it still has a history unto itself.  Originally planned to carry rail along the South Penn Railway, the tunnel never would not see any trains until 1909 when a small line named the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland & Somerset began utilizing it.  The use was brief and by the end of 1916 the PW&S was no longer in operation and abandoned the facility.  Twenty-some years later, the newly formed Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission considered using the abandoned tunnel, in fact it was shown on some original plans.  However, the PTC decided against using it, and the tunnel remained empty.

The eastern portal of the Quemahoning Tunnel is easily accessible from the PA Turnpike.  The portal is located at mile 106.3 along the westbound roadway.  The tunnel is one of the many "What Could Have Been's?" of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Below, Bill Symons shares photos taken in late Fall of 1986 of …

Former Greater Pittsburgh International Airport Terminal

For just over four decades, the former main terminal of Greater Pittsburgh International Airport was the city's gateway to the world.  Located nearly 20 miles west of Downtown Pittsburgh, the Joseph Hoover designed terminal would see millions of travelers pass through its doors.  Known best for the terrazzo compass in the main lobby, the terminal had many other distinguishing features.  The well landscaped entrance that led up to the curved stepped design of the terminal. Each level of the terminal would extend out further than the other allowing for numerous observation decks.  The most popular observation deck, the "Horizon Room", was located on the fourth floor.


From when it opened in the Summer of 1952 until its closing on September 30, 1992, the terminal would grow from a small regional airport to the main hub for USAir.  The terminal would see numerous expansions and renovations over its 40 years of service.  Expansions in 1959, 1972, and 1980 increased the capac…

Roebling Aqueduct

In a quiet and often overlooked corner of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the country's oldest surviving suspension bridge crosses the Delaware River into New York.  The Delaware Aqueduct, designed and built by famed engineer John A. Roebling, has withstood a very colorful history from being an important piece in the region's transportation, to uncertainty during the growth of rail, nearly eight decades of neglect and poor management as a private toll bridge, to finally being restored by the National Park Service and in use as an automobile bridge today.

Construction and Canal Era (1847-1898):
During the 1840's, the Delaware & Hudson Canal was looking at ways to speed up service along its route.  One of the major bottlenecks was where the canal reached the Delaware River.  Since it began operation in 1828, the D&H used a rope ferry to pull traffic along to Canal across the Delaware.  The conflicting traffic of vessels going down the Delaware to Trenton or Philadelphia and…