Historic US Roads
The US can be a real road-tripper’s dream. There is a 3,000-mile stretch of land, full of amazing views and landmarks with constantly changing landmarks. While traveling, you have a unique chance to go through desert flatlands, vivid cities, and preserved forests. The country is famous for its scenic drives that make fantastic voyages, and some highways are even more worth putting on the miles than others. Let’s take a look at the most popular historic highways and their significance, cultural impact, as well as preservation efforts.
Route 66, Illinois to California
Route 66 is also known as the Mother Route. It’s the first stretch of road that connected Los Angeles to Chicago by following a route through rural communities. It covers over 2,400 miles of America’s countryside and towns across two-thirds of the continent, being America’s most iconic drive. It’s been featured in many movies and put into songs many times. Route 66 winds from the shores of Lake Michigan, then goes to the rolling hills of the Missouri Ozarks and the mining towns of Kansas. Then, it passes Oklahoma’s woodlands and the open plains, to reach Texas and the enchanted mesa lands of New Mexico and Arizona. Finally, Route 66 reaches the metropolis of Los Angeles and the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
Route 66 was established in 1926. Almost immediately it became the primary route for the migration of farm workers from the Midwest to California. In 1938, it became the first completely paved highway. In the 1950s, the highway became the main route for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. The route is extremely important in American history as it shows the evolution of the American road from unpaved dirt to the superhighway. Also, it showcases the most beautiful scenery in America like the beauty of the Grand Canyon or Sedona’s red rocks.
The Lincoln Highway
A group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials – the Lincoln Highway Association – brought the idea of Lincoln Highway. The construction started in 1912 – in the beginning, it was only a short, 1-mile stretch that was built to prove to investors and the public that paved roads were the way of the future. The Lincoln Highway became the first transcontinental highway in the US. It was formally opened in 1913. The route runs coast to coast. It starts at Times Square in New York and goes west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.
The Lincoln Highway was replaced with numbered designations many times. The success of this highway inspired connecting roads – these were typically marked with symbols or colored stripes.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Also known as Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway weaves along the Pacific Coast from California’s southern part (San Diego) to its forested north. It carries many major roadways including Big Sur Coast Highway and San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. The highway stretches 147 miles along the coast, providing drivers and motorcyclists with an exhilarating experience. The Pacific Coast Highway is the longest state route in California. Also, it is the second-longest in the entire US. It has several portions and is designated as an All-American Road. The Pacific Coast Highway serves as one of the most important thoroughfares in the Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Pacific Coast Highway is believed to be the state’s most beautiful drive. While traveling it, you will have a chance to enjoy cool ocean breezes, steep cliff sides, preserved forests, and pristine waters. The views are nothing but spectacular, and the weather is usually perfectly suited to the amazing views. Especially in San Diego, the route features some of the coolest beach towns and the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the state. You won’t find anything like chain restaurants, strip malls, or cement slabs there. Instead, get prepared to enjoy funky boutiques, local cafés and coffee houses, as well as surf shops. Some parts of the route have narrow shoulders and sharp drop-offs so it may be a bit tricky for RVs or other oversize vehicles.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Finally, among American historic roads, you cannot forget about the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a 450-mile stretch weaving through farmlands, mountains, and meadows between North Carolina and Virginia. The parkway was opened in 1983. It’s a National Parkway and All-American Road, and at the same time, it’s America’s longest linear park. In fact, since 1946, it has been the most often visited part of the National Park System almost every year. The park protects significant mountain landscapes far beyond the shoulders of the road itself. One might say that the Blue Ridge Parkway is kind of a museum of the managed American countryside that preserves the rough-hewn log cabin of the mountain pioneer.
Tourists love the Blue Ridge Parkway mainly because it runs through lush forest lands and blooming meadows, providing amazing panoramic views in the east at the same time. One of the most iconic stops is Asheville. It’s North Carolina’s historic gem nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Near Asheville, you can visit a folk art center, as well as a visitor center.