Old Highways

Auto Trails prior to 1926
Old Highways

A previous blog titled “Hot and Cold Water” mentioned travelling on the
Lee Highway through the State of Virginia in the late 1930s. Historical research shows that the Lee Highway was actually a National Auto Trail connecting New York City, Washington DC, Roanoke, Memphis, Little Rock, El Paso, Phoenix and Los Angeles. This Trail was named after Robert E. Lee. Prior to 1926 there were no numbering system for highways and few maps existed for tourist who wished to travel long distances. Automobile Clubs in the Teens and early 1920s would publish books with driving instructions. The clubs would also erect colorful wooden signs to blaze the trail such as the one shown above.

In 1924 Rand McNally published a “Auto Trails” map of the United States on which they listed 27 trails and the location of 48 National Monuments and Parks. Among the trails listed was the famous Lincoln Highway which entered Ohio at East Liverpool and proceed westerly through Lisbon, Canton, and Wooster. Other trails included the Dixie Highway which connected the summer resorts of Michigan with the winter resorts of Florida; passing through Ohio, Kentucky,Tennessee, North and South Carolina and Georgia. Today we know the Lincoln Highway as Route 30 while the Dixie Highway more or less has become Interstate 75.

Close to home there were two trails named for famous people. In Pennsylvania was the Perry Highway which connected the city of Erie with Pittsburgh and later became Route 19, passing through Mercer and Meadville. It honored Commander Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the War of 1812. The other trail was the William Penn Highway wich crossed the State of Pennsylvania, touching Altoona and Johnsstown, before entering downtown Pittsburgh and ending at the Ohio River near Weirton. Today it is known as Route 22.on all modern maps
Before the 1950s and the Federal Interstate Highway System the most leisurely way to travel from Cleveland to Columbus and on to Cincinnati was over the
Three C Highway. Today Ohio Route 3 is a scenic drive, passing through Medina, Wooster, Mount Venon and Columbus where Rout 3 is joined by Route 62 and continues to Washington Court House and Wilmington before reaching Cincinnati. But who has time today to travel the old highways and visit the towns along the way? We prefer to ignore the scenery and measure distances in hours and minutes.