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

Anonymous 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

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor traditionally traversed by the Ridge Route.  This article is dedicated to one of the most legendary American Roadways that was ever built.


The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use.  The following is a history of transportation along the Ridge Route corridor dating back …

California State Route 99/Old US Route 99 Freeway Part 1; Interstate 5 north to California State Route 145

Over the past three years I've had the opportunity to drive the entirety of the California State Route 99 Freeway from Interstate 5 north to Sacramento several times but rarely took many photos until this past month.  The saga of US Route 99 in California being dropped to a State Highway no later 1967 is well established at this point.  The point of this blog series is to focus on the actual active CA 99 freeway itself rather than the history of US Route 99.


For reference regarding the broad overall history of US Route 99 I'll defer to CAhighways.org since it is substantial.  CA 99 as an overall route is presently 415 miles with the initial 298 miles being a freeway from I-5 north to US 50/CA 51 in Sacramento. 

CAhighways.org on US 99/CA 99

The route of CA 99 from I-5 north to Sacramento is tied back to Legislative Route Number 4.  A 359 mile section of LRN 4 between Los Angeles and Sacramento was approved by voters in 1910 via the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.  By the Th…

Florida Friday; Pinola Train Wreck Site

In far eastern Citrus County along the Withlacoochee River there is a small ghost town known Pineola along former Florida State Road 39/County Route 39.  Pineola once was a siding of a Atlantic Coast Railroad line which as the sight of the "Great Train Wreck of 1956."


The former Atlantic Coast Railroad line is now part of the Withlacoochee State Trail which details the Great Train Wreck of 1956.  The Great Train Wreck of 1956 was a head-on collision between two trains; one heading south from Dunnellon and the other heading north from Croom.  Both trains were heading towards each other with a full payload of freight at speeds close to 50 MPH.  The wreck was blamed on foggy conditions leading to a failure to notice that both trains on the same track until was too late.  Apparently both trains had just been fitted with radios which the engineered involved refused to use until they were given pay as radio operators.  Apparently one of Croom Station agents attempted in vein to in…