If I had to sum it up in a single word, I'd say "signs"
July 3, 2016 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Dale Sanderson is a third generation map nerd (and professional cartographer) and the creator of USEnds.com an extensive site full of photos of and trivia about US highway endpoints. Submit your own!
posted by jessamyn (34 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, USEnds is mysteriously fascinating.
posted by mr. digits at 11:33 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I love that someone is cataloging something I had never thought to notice.

I don't know if there is a term for it, but this reminds me of how I always notice the vestigial pieces of road that are sometimes left abandoned off to the side after a new road is constructed on a new alignment.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:53 AM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I always notice the vestigial pieces of road that are sometimes left abandoned off to the side after a new road is constructed on a new alignment.

The route I drive 4 nights a week between Spokane and Missoula follows a long portion of The Mullan Road, and there are all sorts of signs of the ancient road that was cut into the mountain side to avoid the flood stage of the river. I drive I-90, but very obviously this same route was engineered and used 150 years ago.

As far as USEnds goes (what a fabulously geeky website about something it never even occurred to me to geek out about! and what a great example of Web 1.0 design that continues to function quite well!), I've never driven any US highway end to end. I have been to both ends of Interstate 10, but not as a contiguous trip.
posted by hippybear at 12:06 PM on July 3, 2016


I've never driven any US highway end to end

Like many MeFi posts, this whole thing started because I am supposed to be doing something else. My sister and I are driving Route 20 end to end (in stages) starting Tuesday and there's precious little consolidated information about it. It's actually non-trivial to tell your GPS "Stay on Route 20!" This was one of the websites I found that had some Route 20 info. Here is another. This Flickr group looks promising because they're grouchy about metadata.

So instead of making some sort of waypoint thing that I can import into my GPS, I am writing this comment. Amusingly, my sister is a "The way I am driving is up" GPS person and I am a "North is up" GPS person so we are just bringing two GPSes because we value sibling harmony more than arguing about which way is right. If Jim drives, he is a "3D roadview all the way" guy, so we told him he needs to BYO also.
posted by jessamyn at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


At least US 20 is still a live designation, and one that has substantial segments that haven't been superseded by freeway. Trying to do 66 is a huge mess.
posted by wotsac at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


there's precious little consolidated information about it

It'll set you back a bit, but getting the full series of DeLorme atlas and gazetteer various state map books will give you more information than you want to know about your route. They're low tech, but entirely functional. I've gotten them for every state I've lived in, and several that I've traveled through.
posted by hippybear at 12:53 PM on July 3, 2016


Also, if you're an AAA member, they will still make Triptik kits for any trip you want to take.

I guess that would also be "a Triple A" member, but if you read "AAA" as "Triple A" then "an" is the wrong word.
posted by hippybear at 12:54 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've gotten them for every state I've lived in, and several that I've traveled through.

Yep, I have them for the states I spend the most time in. That's a good idea.

they will still make Triptik kits

That's funny that you say that because they actually won't! I mean, they have a web form where you can type in a location and a destination (and a place for comments) but when my sister tried to do that and explained our trip, they made her a triptik that was a route from her place to the start of route 20 (a distance of maybe 30 miles) and back. She went in to the office and spoke to the people there who were nice but were also like "Um, here is a pile of maps and some tour books but no, that's a little too complex" It might be one of those ymmv things where we'd just need to keep trying offices but we do have a regular road atlas and probably eleven computing devices between us so we should be fine.

And yeah I've done parts of 66 which was super fun but man some of those roads are barely roads.
posted by jessamyn at 1:16 PM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Love this post jessamyn! I've driven 101 end to end several times and have always lived near it (in all 3 states), and now that I have retired I live in my favorite spot near 101 and 20. Always wanted to run 20 to the other end, but ran out of passion for the driving.
Rooting for you for sure.
Beware, assuming you're westbound, they're closing 20 near Eddyville intermittently for construction so tripcheck for sure.
Many drunks heading to the beach too.
Food recommendations by request.
posted by Alter Cocker at 1:43 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a fascination with following roads until they end in the north, Canada and Alaska. This is only in planning stages, maybe to never come in to fruition. My ex and I attempted Route 30 from Chicago west (The Lincoln Highway), but it wasn't working for us staying on a secondary road with kids so we stuck it out only three days. The Route 20 trip looks awesome and a worthy goal. I want to start Route 30 again, but I need to find a suitable travel companion, I kind of need to see what each historical marker is touting, which can make for a long trip.
posted by readery at 2:16 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I drive US highway ends a couple of times a week nowadays. I walk to the end of one once a week or so. I cross it within a quarter mile of its end pretty much daily. I end an Interstate about once a month. I've only ended US-41 once, but am at the end on foot fairly regularly.

That's one nice thing about living here, actually, all the ends. I do need to get off my ass and go find the end of US-1 someday, though. I've gotten within 20 miles or so of Key West, but still have yet to make it all the way down. Of course, these days, anybody can get the experience by loading up Google Street View, and if they're really serious, get a Cardboard for the more immersive experience. (Yes, street view on Android supports cardboard)

Funny thing is when I first moved to Tulsa, I lived a couple hundred feet from the southern end of US-169. I traversed the end in both directions most days. Don't get that so much in the middle of the country, since most US highways end in a border/coastal state.
posted by wierdo at 2:17 PM on July 3, 2016


I-75 also ends here. Not sure how I forgot it, since I used to end/begin it several times a week when traffic required I take the long way to deliver/fetch Georgia to/from her job.
posted by wierdo at 2:22 PM on July 3, 2016


I don't know if there is a term for it, but this reminds me of how I always notice the vestigial pieces of road that are sometimes left abandoned off to the side after a new road is constructed on a new alignment.

Remnant pavement. Anything "useless" that's leftover from a roadway project is a remnant.
posted by hwyengr at 2:39 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


IDOT has begin and end signs for Historic 66 in downtown Chicago. Every time they get stolen, they're installed a little bit higher up the post.
posted by hwyengr at 2:47 PM on July 3, 2016


West of Joplin, MO, once you crossed into Kansas going west on the former US-66 there were some fairly new black and white US-66 signs that should have been but were not the brown "historical" markers. Elsewhere along the route one occasionally sees an old cutout black and white sign or even something from a bit later, but nearly new ones are pretty rare, since they get stolen a lot. Not as often as US-69, which it seems like nearly every young person within a hundred miles of it has hanging on their wall, or did when I was growing up, but 66 is still a theft magnet even if it lacks the..sex appeal..

One of the more interesting things to do on a road trip for me is to find (and drive) the original routes of US highways where they have later been bypassed. This is best through rural mountainous areas, as it gives an interesting perspective on how much the ease of auto travel changed between WWII and the 80s. (And to a lesser degree, today) US-71 around Greenwood, Arkansas, had a very curvy and narrow route up through the hills north and south of town until the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department got the budget for some dynamite and managed to blast some cuts through several ridges so they could keep the road mostly in the valleys.

Funny thing is the concrete of the old road is in better shape than most roads built since. It's also impressive how well they worked with the terrain and used what seems today like a ridiculous amount of superelevation to make the sharp curves much more easily negotiable. The old roads in some ways just seem like part of the landscape in a way that newer ones, even those with similarly small clear areas, just don't.
posted by wierdo at 3:18 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Dammit. Prematurely hit post. I meant to go on to say how I appreciate the safety benefits of modern construction techniques and how despite the appearance of complete disconnection from the terrain (see I-49 between Mountainburg and Fayetteville, AR for a good example, and contrast with US-71 in that area) with deep cuts and long/high bridges they manage, at great expense, to mitigate the otherwise major environmental impacts the physical road itself would have.

They can't engineer out the pollution from the vehicles, especially given the increased traffic carrying capacity, but they do at least keep the roads from causing huge issues in their own right. Without that mitigation, they could easily cause landslides and flooding among other things.
posted by wierdo at 3:25 PM on July 3, 2016


I love this website and never thought to share it. My bad. Thanks, jessamyn.
posted by maryr at 7:01 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


In Boston, you can file citizen complaints online. Six months ago, somebody filed a complaint that the "END" marker at the last US 20 sign was missing and asked that it be replaced, so that people would know where the highway ends (and never mind that NOBODY in Boston ever gives directions that include the words "Rte. 20" - unless they're telling you how to get to Sudbury or Marlborough, towns few Bostonians have reason to go to). The complaint remains open and unresolved.
posted by adamg at 7:13 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's good intel adamg, maybe we won't drive all the way into Kenmore just to take a picture of a sign that isn't there.
posted by jessamyn at 7:25 PM on July 3, 2016


Huh, I didn't know Route 20 went almost all the way across the country. You'll be going by a few miles from here (Oak Park IL).
posted by zompist at 7:27 PM on July 3, 2016


Route 20, Represent!

(I live about 75 yards off Rt. 20, my job downtown is about 50 yards off Rt 20; I'll come out and wave as you drive past, jessamyn....)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:19 PM on July 3, 2016


Now I have a vision of Jessamyn driving across the country with people waving at her all the way across, like her own personal Google Street View staged moments all across the US.

Let's make this happen, people!
posted by hippybear at 11:16 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was a very little notyou, being "first" on the freeway or "last" on the freeway were important goals of mine. I knew it was impossible. The lines were arbitrary. The freeways endless. There is no first or last. Still!

As it happened, Leo, who was not exactly my grandfather but who had been with my grandmother since long, long before the dawn of time, and continued with her right up until senesence overtook them both, had noticed that the 210 freeway in Southern California had both a beginning and an end, in close proximity, where hasty concrete had been deposited as temporary barriers until the funds were released to carry on the work.

One day during a hot and smoggy 1970s summer, we loaded up in his VW Camperwagon and left for his place in Big Bear, except instead of heading east like we normally did, we turned west through Pasadena, and made our way out the 210 where it starts at Orange Grove. To make sure we were verifiably"last" he didn't simply merge and progress forward. He merged all the way to the center shoulder, and reversed all the way back to the hasty concrete. We were definitely, and dangerously, last on the freeway. He asked me if I agreed, (I did) and then we drove toward San Bernardino.

At the other end of the 210, beyond Glendora as we headed east to his mountain house, we were briefly and dangerously "first" as he waited until the last possible moment to merge hastily, aggressively, right onto the last of that freeway's off ramps.

Do you agree that we were also "first"?

Yes.

Good, because I don't think we should try to drive up to the wall and reverse into traffic from the concrete at the end there.

I will never stop missing that guy.
posted by notyou at 11:34 PM on July 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I've done the Western half of Route 66 and this site thrills me to death.

now to get a job I can take vacation from and also afford gas

posted by lysdexic at 11:39 PM on July 3, 2016


My sister and I are driving Route 20 end to end (in stages) starting Tuesday and there's precious little consolidated information about it. It's actually non-trivial to tell your GPS "Stay on Route 20!"

I've done this several times.
To be honest, in most sections, you don't need a GPS, it's pretty well signed, especially in Illinois, where it becomes the Grant Highway. That little head is easy to spot.
Things get a little complicated where there is an "Old US 20" but if you aren't going for complete historical accuracy, you really just need to get on it and head west.

As has been mentioned, the beginning in Boston is a little hard to find. I don't think I've ever seen a "Start" sign, only an "End" coming from the opposite direction.
Also, there a couple of places like just outside Norwalk, Ohio where it becomes a bypass without much warning, if you don't pay attention, you end up on a local road.

US 20 across Iowa is awful. Just awful. Though you can see the Field of Dreams.

Look for Doug’s Fish Fry in Skaneateles, White Turkey Drive-In in Conneaut, the giant popcorn ball in Sac City. US Grant Home in Galena, Spokes Country Restaurant in Pioneer, Crystal Café in Sioux City, Arthur Bowring Ranch State Park in Nebraska, Bend Ale Trail in Bend.
posted by madajb at 12:18 AM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


There are a few vestigial pieces of US 90 & one of US 290 where I-10 didn't quite align. I take them whenever I've got time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:33 AM on July 4, 2016


One of the more interesting things to do on a road trip for me is to find (and drive) the original routes of US highways where they have later been bypassed. This is best through rural mountainous areas, as it gives an interesting perspective on how much the ease of auto travel changed between WWII and the 80s.

The abandoned US70 road near Old Fort NC is now a bike trail. I rode it this spring, and one side of the road has new blacktop, the other side is the old pavement surface. It's narrow and follows all the mountain curves, so there's few large hillside cuts. It's hard to imagine this was the main connecting road in the area.

Point Lookout trail description.

Some more trail photos here.
posted by jjj606 at 8:43 AM on July 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love these little pockets of nerdery. Here's a very similar site for British motorways: cbrd.co.uk
posted by corvine at 9:16 AM on July 4, 2016


Now I have a vision of Jessamyn driving across the country with people waving at her all the way across, like her own personal Google Street View staged moments all across the US.

Let's make this happen, people!
posted by hippybear at 2:16 AM on July 4


Exactly.
Here in Albany, US 20 (as "Madison Avenue") passes THROUGH the NYS government office complex (the "Empire State Plaza") directly under the gigantic stairs that lead up to the State Education Building.

Now I kinda want to paint a bedsheet with "WELCOME JESSAMYN AND SISTER" and hang it off the stairs....
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:22 AM on July 4, 2016


Looking at the Rt 20 map in one of the links, I see that I have driven some fairly large sections in both the east and west, but without any awareness that there is or was a coherent route rather than just sections of road with the same number.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:57 AM on July 4, 2016


As has been mentioned, the beginning in Boston is a little hard to find. I don't think I've ever seen a "Start" sign, only an "End" coming from the opposite direction.

Boston is not really known for its excellent signage. I didn't even realize Comm Ave/Brighton Ave/North Beacon WAS route 20 and I drove down a good section of those roads Saturday.
posted by maryr at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2016


This is seriously cool. I will soon have occasion to pilgrimage to both ends of US-6, which goes from Provincetown, MA to Bishop, CA (not far from Yosemite NP). I had no idea it was still continuous; that is amazing.
posted by psoas at 3:01 PM on July 5, 2016


I kinda want to paint a bedsheet with "WELCOME JESSAMYN AND SISTER" and hang it off the stairs....

I am in Albany! And I am... somewhere on Western Avenue by SUNY so if we haven't passed it, we might see it tomorrow.

We decided fuck it about the Boston leg of the trip (thanks adamg!) and are going to fill that part in later. Tomorrow we drive to Buffalo. Staying on Route 20 was messy through Metro West but got better after Central MA and downright GORGEOUS once we hit the Berkshires. Anyone who has good "where to crash for two people one of whom snores" intel on Chicago, please do contact me.

We saw two (2) Historic Route 20 signs and got a photo of one of them.
posted by jessamyn at 7:28 PM on July 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know this isn't really the Jessamyn's Road Trip thread, but if people want to see some photos of the now-concluded first leg, there is a photoset available.
posted by jessamyn at 9:58 AM on July 17, 2016


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