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Giant Concrete Arrows That Point Your Way Across America
July 16, 2013 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Giant Concrete Arrows That Point Your Way Across America
posted by Confess, Fletch (44 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is definitely a set of giant concrete arrows that point my way across America.
posted by boo_radley at 10:19 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Neat, it would be interesting to know where you could find these arrows. Then one could seek them out and start fuckyeahlostarrows tumblr or an arrow a day for a whole year blog, or any other assorted internet cliches you can think of.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:20 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then one could seek them out and start fuckyeahlostarrows tumblr or an arrow a day for a whole year blog, or any other assorted internet cliches you can think of.

or restore them to their original bright yellow.
posted by Zed at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Surely you only need to find one arrow.
posted by fshgrl at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


ginormous

Way to stay with it Conde Nast.

Waiting for Bon Appetite to use the word "noms", Architectural Digest to call a room "perfect place to chillax" and for GQ to publish a "steez guide"
posted by Ad hominem at 10:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


omigosh i want to find one in cleveland asap. how did i never know about this?
posted by chasles at 10:31 AM on July 16, 2013


Way to stay with it Conde Nast.

The column's by Ken Jennings. Throwing in some isolated, conspicuous, affected-sounding pieces of slang is a pretty standard part of his schtick.
posted by Zed at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if you were trying to go the other way?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every ten miles? There's gotta be a couple around here somewhere.
posted by slogger at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2013


Also, Ken Jennings is awesome.
posted by slogger at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Found one
posted by steveminutillo at 10:36 AM on July 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


There were also lots of arrows and town names painted on building rooftops pointing towards airports. You see them occasionally when looking at old aerial photographs. Relevant article.
posted by gyusan at 10:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds goofy, but navigating an airplane purely by dead reckoning and pilotage (aka "looking down") is remarkably difficult. Radio navigation aids only date to the 1930s and even then, I imagine visual navigation was the norm. There's also old signal beacons and even bonfire stands. I don't have time to research links for this comment, but here's some early airway maps.

That course from Rock Springs to Salt Lake City is particularly tricky in an old airplane. The Wasatch mountains don't fuck around, there's not many spots a non-turbocharged airplane can safely slip through.
posted by Nelson at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, Ken does the "see I'm not really an egghead" like I do by using the words noms and steez.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:48 AM on July 16, 2013


This just made my day. I'm flying out west for a vacation next week and you better believe I'll be looking out the window the whole way hoping to spot one of these!

Nice find, steveminutillo! Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day scrolling through Google maps in ten mile increments.
posted by TedW at 10:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, Ken does the "see I'm not really an egghead" like I do by using the words noms and steez.

I read it as "yeah, I know I'm an egghead and I'm making fun of myself by sounding like I'm desperately trying not to sound like one." Or maybe I'm just projecting because I do the same thing and that's totes what I mean.
posted by Zed at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I found that one by following the first search result here, looks like lots more information is available on scattered sites but nobody has a nice comprehensive list.
posted by steveminutillo at 11:02 AM on July 16, 2013


I read it as "yeah, I know I'm an egghead and I'm making fun of myself by sounding like I'm desperately trying not to sound like one."

Yeah I'm not trying to diss Ken. The unfortunate side effect of him being on reddit all the damn time is that I feel like we are totes BFFS 4eva.

Even his username, WatsonsBitch, plays down his intelligence.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's just say Ken is a cool egghead that tells you about ginormous arrows, not one of those annoying eggheads that points out that ginormous isn't a word.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:11 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Five are (roughly) identified in Washington County, Utah. The first was identified by steveminutillo, and here are the other two mentioned by specific location: On the very south edge of the Shinob Kibe mesa, and here's the one on the south side of the water tank.

Here's another article on the arrows, with pictures of a tower as it stood.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:11 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also: these concrete arrows are not to be confused by Twin Arrows Trading Post and other novelty arrow sculptures.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2013


Crimson Skies, how I miss you.
posted by cardboard at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What if you were trying to go the other way?

There were plans to build another set of arrows going west to east, but they got scrapped because of the war. Eventually they ran short of planes on the East Coast, but by that point the MIT boffins had invented RADAR and the arrows were obsolete.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is entirely possible, you realize, to be an egghead and use the word "ginormous". It's not the most modern of slang. I think you guys are bean plating.

BTW, that article on the arrows says the War Department asked that all markers within 150 miles of the coasts be destroyed. So don't bother looking around SF too hard.
posted by maryr at 12:09 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


There were also lots of arrows and town names painted on building rooftops pointing towards airports. You see them occasionally when looking at old aerial photographs. Relevant article.

The Oakland (California) airport has Oakland painted in varoius places. I assume this is meant for SFO-bound pilots, to tell them "no, you idiot, this is not the airport you wanted" - I know I've seen it on flights approaching SFO from the west, which often come pretty close to passing over OAK.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2013


> all markers within 150 miles of the coasts be destroyed

A small band of partisans known as the Wolverines were tasked with destroying these in Nebraska during the Soviet/Cuba invasion of 1989.
posted by stbalbach at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Superman just dropped his keys to the Fortress of Solitude, that's all.
posted by SPrintF at 12:31 PM on July 16, 2013


I used to live next to a long, narrow strip of empty land. For many years, my building's roof had something to the effect of "DON'T LAND HERE, YOU IDIOT" painted onto it, supposedly dating back to the 1920s.
posted by schmod at 12:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ad hominem: Let's just say Ken is a cool egghead that tells you about ginormous arrows, not one of those annoying eggheads that points out that ginormous isn't a word.
... and is wrong about that, anyway.

Meriam-Webster. (Since 2007)
OxfordDictionaries.com (no relation)
Dictionary.com.
Collins Dictionary.
MacMillan Dictionary.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


... and is wrong about that, anyway.

Jennings!!!!! He punked me once again.

I gotta up my dictionary game, I didn't know that word was official now.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:35 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, now that it is official it only makes sense to use it. I made a ginormous mistake teasing Conde Nast over word usage.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:39 PM on July 16, 2013


Can we get back to the huge-gantic arrows please?
posted by goethean at 1:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


=====>derail this way ==========> out of thread
posted by Think_Long at 1:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


By all means, this isn't like a serious derail. We are all just joking around in the thread, I think. Ken is one of the most likable guys ever and one of the greatest champions the world has ever known.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This feels like something out of a discworld novel, LOL.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:57 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most important would be a list of all beacon/arrow sites, cross referenced with ones known to still exist and those no longer extant, with the rest being of unknown status. Internet, I am waiting.
posted by bonefish at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love this and was just coming here to post it. Thank you.

There were also lots of arrows and town names painted on building rooftops pointing towards airports.

I grew up in the flight path of a small rural airport. My house had a giant barn attached. Every so often my parents would get pissed because pilots were buzzing the house or flying too early or too late and call the airport to complain. My father, who always had a slightly nasty streak, one time threatened to paint WELCOME TO SHIRLEY on the barn roof. Our airport was in Stow. Shirley was twenty miles away and had its own airport.
posted by jessamyn at 3:05 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


route map via airmailpioneers.org -- this may predate the beacon system, not sure.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:05 PM on July 16, 2013


I grew up not 30 miles from the tiny city of Byron, IL, and never knew this existed. I only knew Byron as the town hosting the most northerly nuclear power plant with cooling towers. I guess the air-mail route was before the more logical Rockford airport, which would have been US Army Cavalry Camp Grant at the time.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:19 PM on July 16, 2013


The intersection of West Roxbury Parkway and Centre Street in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood is a rotary eight miles southwest of Logan Airport. Back in the day, possibly when Logan was still just known as the East Boston Airport, somebody got the idea to plant shrubs that would form a large 8 and an arrow pointing the way for pilots.

This living navigation marker is still there.
posted by adamg at 7:33 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is really cool. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:08 PM on July 16, 2013


Oh! That's an 8 and an arrow!
posted by maryr at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2013


I found these lists of airway beacon sites (Eastern U.S., Western U.S.). Many of them are labeled with the name of the airway (there is/was a "New Orleans Atlanta Awy Bcn 32" in Alabama, for example). No information on whether arrows are present at the sites, though.
posted by gubo at 11:11 AM on July 17, 2013


Just today, this picture popped up on my facebook feed - airplane directional markings on the roof of Rec Hall at Penn State in the 1940s.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2013


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