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

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…