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

The history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California

The historic corridor of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 through the borderlands of southern California share a largely mutual history.  Both highways originated in the city of San Diego and departed the state at the Colorado River into Yuma, Arizona.  Both highways share numerous famous geographical components such as the Mountain Springs Grade and Algodones Sand Dunes.  This article serves as a comprehensive history of the combined US Route 80/Interstate 8 corridor in California from the tolled stage route era of the nineteenth century to the development of the modern freeway.   The blog cover photo features US Route 80 along the Mountains Springs Grade through In-Ko-Pah Gorge during late 1920s.  This photo is part of the Caltrans McCurry Collection. Part 1; the history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California share a largely mutual history.  The backstory of both highways is tied heavily to the corridors of the Old Spanish Trail, Legisl

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact, the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine w