Sunday, December 28, 2008

That's a Wrap

Well, I don't think I'm going to reach my goal of 2300 photos before the end of the year. I just now posted photos #2251 and 2252 on my Flickr page. I took a few photos during my abbreviated Christmas trip to Missouri, but not as many as I would have liked. A combination of too little time and too many clouds kept me from snagging as many photos as I had hoped. There is still a slim chance I may reach my goal, but a lot depends on the weather the next couple days.

My tentative plan is to visit Tahlequah & Muskogee Oklahoma and check out a few older bridges over there. Tahlequah is also the capitol of the Cherokee Nation and has a few road signs with the Cherokee alphabet on them, such as this Yield sign:
Cherokee Yield

I still want to go back to Lawton and re-shoot some of the photos I shot over Labor Day weekend, but got eaten by my computer, but that may have to wait until after the first of the year.

So much to see, so little time. At this rate, I'll have to live forever just to catch up on my current wish list.

That said, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for reading my blog and perusing my photos. I
wish all of you a happy 2009!

David/US 71

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Rhetorical Question

As I find myself getting ready for Christmas Revel this weekend, I again find myself asking "am I using the SCA as an excuse to go take photos or are photos an excuse to do SCA? ;)

Tentative plans this trip include clinching US 65 in Louisiana and exploring parts of the Natchez Trace Parkway between Natchez and Utica... time and weather permitting.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Some Thoughts on US 96

US 96 is an anomaly: it violates US Highway number standards by running North-South instead of East-West. Designated in 1939, it begins at US 59 and US 84 near Tenaha, Texas. From there, it passes through Center, San Augustine, Jasper, Silsbee, Buna, Kirbyville and several other communities before intersecting US 69 & US 287 at Lumberton.

From Lumberton, 69, 96 and 287 run through Rosedale and Beaumont before ending together at Texas 87 in Port Arthur. I find myself asking "why?". Why do all three highways run together only to share the same end point? Does Texas receive more highway money for having 3 highways on the same alignment?

Yes, there are other highways that share alignments such as US 71 and US 59 between Mena, AR and Texarkana and the afore mentioned US 59 & US 84 between Tenaha & Timpson, Texas. I have no problem with that. But a 30 mile redundancy to the same terminus seems, well, redundant. Wouldn't it be better to end US 96 at Lumberton and end US 287 at US 69 in Woodville?

C'mon, TXDOT: either give me a logical explanation for the 69/96/287 multiplex or consider my suggestions of ending 96 at Lumberton and 287 at Woodville.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Old Road

Jeremy Lance of Arkansas Highways sent me a link a couple weeks ago to a collection of Historic Arkansas highway maps. I have, almost literally, been unable to tear myself away from it. While I have traced most of US 71's alignments through the state, I have discovered former & abandoned alignments for many other highways throughout the state.

There are far too many to mention, so I shall touch on just a few. Everything listed here dates back to between 1925 and 1935:

* US 62 west of Fayetteville was originally AR 45 through Farmington & Prairie Grove to near Lincoln, then shifted south through Moffett and Ft Smith before ending at the Oklahoma State Line along what is now AR 96. Between Farmington & Prairie Grove, 45's original alignment followed what is now AR 170.

*AR 99 (now part of AR 59) originally intersected AR 80 (another section of US 62) at a 4-way intersection at Summers. Currently 59 intersects US 62 1 1/2 miles east of Summers then splits off north at Summers.

*In Polk County, US 71 followed what is now County Rd 76 from south of Y City to Mena.

*In Marion County, US 62 used to pass through Pyatt instead of around as it does now.

As I said, there are far too many old alignments to mention. I can only spend about an hour at a time looking at the maps before I have to take a break. It's not enough for me to simply look at a map and say "cool, an old alignment". I actually analyze the information and try to place these roads along what I know exists today, which is no easy task given some of these old roads no longer exist in any form (including as a county road). Some have been obliterated by Interstate highways, some have been swallowed by modern lakes and dams.

But it's fascinating stuff... if you like maps ;)

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Photos

I have posted some new photos on my Flickr page bring the total to 2005. New items on this update include construction on future Interstate 69 connector near Pine Bluff and the discovery of a short section of abandoned US 65 near Woodson, AR at the Pulaski-Grant county line: a remnant if its early 1960's alignment.

For those of you who like signs, there's an assortment of those, too including some new Clearview signs on Interstate 40 and a couple font variations such as these two signs on AR 100 near Maumelle:

AR 100 Series C

AR 100 Series B

I'll be leaving for a few days in Texas in the next couple weeks so I hope to come home with lots more photos to post. My goal is to reach 2300 photos by Christmas. We'll see. Gas may be cheap ($1.87 in parts of Arkansas), but the economy is the pits so that makes it hard to travel much.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Motor Voter

Arkansas has what's called "Motor Voter": you can register to vote at your local Department of Finance & Revenue Office (aka the driver's license office). When I moved 2 years ago, I transferred my voter registration to my new address. Simple, right? Well, not quite.

Today is Election Day and I went to my local polling place to cast my vote. I waited in line maybe 10 minutes... not long at all. But there was no record of my voter registration. It's been 2 years and there's no record of me? Somewhere between the DFA and the state voting office, my registration appears to have been lost. They even called the county courthouse and found no record of me. So, I wasn't allowed to vote. All they could do was hand me a new voter registration card and tell me I could vote in the next election.

I suppose I have no one to blame but myself: I should have verified my registration, but didn't.


Follow up:

I decided to drive back to my old town to vote (it was only an hour away). I waited maybe 5 minutes before voting. When I got done, I went chasing bridges ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere?

There's really no such thing as a bridge to nowhere as every bridge has to go somewhere. The only exception might be an abandoned bridge which no longer goes anywhere. A prime example might be the old Deep Fork River bridge on US 266 east of Dewar, Oklahoma. Built in 1933, this bridge was replaced in 2005 by a bridge on a new alignment and the approaches removed. So, technically, you could call this a bridge to nowhere.

You can see photos of this bridge and other bridges on my Flickr pages.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Photo Update

I have uploaded another batch of photos to my Flickr pages this evening bringing my total number of photos to 1903 (for those of you who like to keep count ;)).

Today's upload is mostly scans of old photos from circa 2000-2002 including an old 2-digit style sign for US 64B near Wynne, Arkansas. There's also a nice shot of a tunnel along US 82 near Cloudcroft, NM. I am slowly reaching my goal of 2300 photos before December 31st (maybe more if I'm lucky). That's only 400 more photos: I take that many on a single SCA weekend (not that they're all usable).

I still want to go back to Lawton, Oklahoma and replace the photos I lost back in September, plus chase down a couple more bridges. I also need to make plans for the weekend of November 2nd: maybe an overnight trip to grab some photos.


So much to see, so little time. Eventually, I want to go back to Kansas City and look for some more bridges plus follow US 71 into Iowa north of Interstate 80. I also want to explore US 65 again in southern Arkansas and in Louisiana, possibly parts of old US 80 as well.

If I thought I had better than a snowball's chance in H*LL, I'd buy a couple lottery tickets and use my winnings to go exploring the open road. Maybe someday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Bridges of Calico Rock

A couple weeks ago, I visited Calico Rock, AR on my way home from an SCA event. It was an hour out of my way, but I figured it was a good place to look for bridges and other goodies worthy of photographing. Well, I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was very pleased having found 4 bridges within a mile of each other. The first one was the Calico Creek bridge on AR 56 built in 1941.
OK, I'm off to a good start, I thought. Then I found this old 1908 Pony Truss along Walnut St, also over Calico Creek.
But wait: there's more! I also found this old wooden bridge on the Missouri-North Arkansas Railroad over Peppersauce Alley & Railroad St near the White River.
That's 3 bridges in the space of less than a mile. I was about to head out when I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. It looked like an abandoned rairoad spur. Upon closer examination I discovered it was an abandoned railroad bridge.

I couldn't find much info on the bridge, but what I found seems to indicate it was built circa 1902 and was a spur to a local planing plant (also now abandoned).

I spent at least another 30 minutes exploring the area, but couldn't find any more bridges save the White River Bridge along AR 5, so I headed pointed myself north and headed towards home. Then, when I reached the town of Norfork, I found yet another bridge: a multi-truss railroad bridge over the North Fork of the White River. Built circa 1909, this bridge currently serves the Missouri-North Arkansas Railroad.

Definitely a good day to go bridge hunting. Only problem was: it took me 7 hours to complete what's normally a 4 Hour drive. ;)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

KC Road Meet

A couple weeks ago, I travelled to Kansas City for the KC Roadmeet. We had a smaller turnout than expected, but it still went well. Attending were Mark Roberts from California, Richie Kennedy from Kansas, Scott Nazelrod from Oklahoma and our host, GR Van from Missouri. Following an exchange of maps and lunch at Gates BBQ, we headed out for our tour of Kansas City area roads. Our first stop was along Hillcrest Road for a view of the rebuilt Grandview Triangle/Three Trails Crossing, followed by a stop along Hickman Mills Road for a ground view of the Triangle. Following this, we got a quick look at the construction of the new Paseo I-29 bridge then wandered over into Kansas.

It was recently announced that US73 is being rerouted from its current terminus at I-435 to a new terminus at I-70 and Kansas 7, so we got a look at 73's current end, then explored its future end which is currently being rebuilt. This was no easy task as we had to go past the construction at K-7 then loop back around on a couple local roads.

Heading back to Gates BBQ, we had a chance to explore a rebuild of the US 69/I-435 interchange including new flyover ramps from 69 to 435. Returning to Gates, we parted company with Mark and Richie, then explored I-470 from the Triangle, all the way to I-70.

Returning to Gates once again, we said our good-byes and went our separate ways.

But that's by no means the end. I spent a couple hours in the morning doing some exploring of my own including several bridges including this old bridge over Brush Creek at 50th Street & Ward Parkway.
In the end, I came home with over 400 photos and wishing I'd had more time to explore the area. Maybe I'll find time this Fall before the weather get too cold.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

1700 and counting

I reached a milestone today: I now have over 1700 photos on my Flickr photo pages. I've been doing some cleaning in the computer room and found some forgotten CD's of photos dating back to as far as 2003. As I've been exploring them and uploading the best ones to my Flickr page, I found this photo of the Lightning Creek bridge west of Pittsburg, KS.An example of the Marsh Arch design, this bridge was built in 1927 along then US 160 (now K-126), this bridge was replaced in the Spring of 2004. Yes, it looks a little grainy: I took this photo with a 35mm disposable camera.

I've also uploaded some new photos as well including this Art Deco
traffic signal in Kansas City.
According to Mark Roberts of, this light was designed in the early 1930s by the architect Edward Buehler Delk. This photo was taken a couple weeks ago at the Kansas City Road Meet (more on that in another blog).

I'm still sorting so I'll probably have a few more photos in the next couple days. Ideally, I'd love to have at least 2500 photos by Christmas... perhaps as many as 3000. Yeah, that will be at least 2 road trips, possibly 3... and probably several random daytrips as well.

Well, I better get busy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I had a computer glitch yesterday and lost all my photos from my recent trip to Texas. The folders were still there, but no photos. AH, S#IT. Well, I did some searching on the Internet and found a file recovery program. Lo and behold, it found my photos... well some of them at least. It looks like I lost all my photos from Henryetta and Lawton, including my pics of Old US 62 and all the button copy signs. Still, I may be able to salvage some of them from my Flickr pages.

Those photos I can replace fairly easily. Lawton is about 4 hours away and there are some other bridges in the area I want to explore.

I am extremely relieved that I was able to recover most of my Texas photos, including this 1928 Union Pacific Railroad bridge over old US 80 near Trent.

I am, needless to say, extremely relieved. 3-4 hours from home, I can leave in the morning and do an overnight stay somewhere if I need to. Central Texas, however, is 8+ hours away... a bit far to simply chase a few old bridges. I'd have to wait until the next time I was headed to an SCA event in that area, which probably won't be until next year.

I may never know exactly how many photos I lost: perhaps as many as 40 or 50. But I was able to rescue around 340, so while everything is still not right and good in the world, it's OK for now.

What the heck? I was looking for an excuse for another road trip anyway ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Year So Far

I was sorting through my 2008 photos this morning, debating on whether I should save some of them to CD. Imagine my surprise when my computer told me I had 4500 photos totalling 3GB (!!). If I'm going to burn some more photos to CD, I guess I'll have to do it on a quarterly basis since January through June I have nearly 3000 photos. I've actually travelled less this year than last, but I have more photos? Well, there was the St Louis Road Meet back in April from which I brought home 800+. Of course, I've been to several SCA events this year which all but requires me to take photos. I actually took more photos during Lilies War (950) than at Gulf War (865), which is odd considering I spent more time on the road going to & from Mississippi for Gulf Wars (including running from the freak snowstorm) than I did going to and from Kansas City for Lilies. Not that it really matters. It merely means I found more to photograph in Kansas City than I did in Mississippi & Louisiana (sorry, Froggie).

Next up is another road trip. It's back to Kansas City for MLOM's KC Road Meet. We'll be checking out the Grandview Tri, er, Three Trails Crossing, a few assorted bridges and who knows what else? If time permits, there's an antique traffic signal I was to find and photograph.

(* Yes, I know there's no AR 2008. It's just an illustration).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Never Can Say Goodbye

My computer is starting to run a trifle sluggish, so it's time to clean out a few photos and free up some space. I have almost 3000 photos from 2007 which I can burn to a CD and clear out of my computer to gain a little space. Just one minor problem: the photos take up almost 900 MB of space and a CD will only hold 700 MB. So I'll either have to delete 200 MB of photos, or download to 2 CD's. 200 MB: that's only about 10-12 photos at 1600x1200 resolution.

But I can't do it. It's almost impossible for me to delete any photos from my personal collection. Admittedly, I haven't shared all of them on Flickr or Bridgehunter , but many of them are still valuable (at least to me). Some (such as the Ash Grove bridge) are irreplaceable. No two of my photos are the same. While they may look the same, they are often shot at different angles.

I've gone through my photos and have deleted around 15 of them, but I'm still over the limit. So, I guess I'll have to separate them into January-June and July-December.

So if you'll excuse me, I have some photos to work on. ;)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Button, Button

I took a trip to Sweetwater Texas this past weekend. Basically, I followed I-40 to Oklahoma City, I-44 to Wichita Falls, Texas, US 277 to Abilene then I-20 to Sweetwater. On my way down, I stopped overnight in Lawton, Oklahoma and took the opportunity to see some of the sights and add to my collection of road photos. Among the sights, were numerous button-copy signs. That is: older signs with reflective buttons rather than reflective lettering. While such signs are becoming increasingly rare, I found one that's even more rare: a button-copy "Big Brown Sign"

This sign, for the Fort Sill Museum, is the only remaining Big Brown Sign I could find in the area that still had button-copy. There are lots of other button-copy signs in the area, such as this one for OK 49, but only the one Brown Sign.

If you like button-copy, you can find a lot of them along the HE Bailey Turnpike south of Lawton. OR, you can cruise by my Flickr photo album to see some of the photos I took (too numerous to mention here).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Still More Flickring

Silver Bridge; Mulberry River Crawford-Franklin County, AR

I have started a Flickr photo album dedicated to lost, abandoned, or otherwise forgotten bridges in Arkansas. It's called (oddly enough) Lost and Forgotten Bridges of Arkansas . Some of the bridges included are the Mulberry River Silver Bridge (pictured above), Harvey Dowell White River bridge, and the remnants of a lost bridge near Devil's Den State Park. There are currently 48 items with more to be added as time permits.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fixing Bridges the Smart Way

Woolsey bridge near West Fork, AR

From James Baughn of

Now that we've reached the one year anniversary of the Minneapolis bridge disaster, it's not hard to find politicians and newspaper columnists lamenting the sorry state of the country's infrastructure. They all say the same thing: We need to spend more money!

Unfortunately, almost everybody wants to spend money on the wrong thing: replacement instead of maintenance. Even if enough money could be found to replace all of the nation's structurally deficient bridges, it wouldn't take long before these shiny new bridges fell into disrepair again.

There's no real incentive for highway departments to properly maintain their bridges. The bridges that are in the worst shape get top priority for federal replacement money, so it's actually in the best interest of local governments to allow bridges to become structurally deficient so they can cash in. It's a race to the bottom to see who can score the lowest rating.

An ounce of maintenance today would be worth a pound of replacement in the future. Simple tasks, such as repainting steel beams, or clearing away salt left behind over the winter, would help extend the useful lifespan of a bridge while boosting its sufficiency rating. But the federal government does not provide windfalls for maintenance, only replacement.
To make matters worse, current policy encourages the construction of Bridges to Nowhere. An old bridge that carries very little traffic, but has a low rating, will be replaced by a huge, overengineered concrete monstrosity.

Read the rest here

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Road Words

Anyone who has spent any time at all on misc.transport.road has been subjected to the word viatology: a silly made-up name for the thing roadgeeks & road scholars do.

This morning, I discovered another new word:
retro-vating, which comes from the Route 66 discussion list. Used in a sentence, you could say "Debbie is retro-vating a motel back to it's former 66 glory". Now here's a made-up word that actually means something and you can understand it at a glance... unlike that other word ;).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Robbery at the Gas Pump

I took a trip to Pine Bluff last weekend for an SCA function (that's Society for Creative Anachronism). On the way home, I took a few photos of sines & stuff for my Flickr pages. Along the way, I had occasion to make a pit-stop at a little truck stop near the community of Blackwell. Blackwell is, almost literally, a wide spot in the road. It consists of two liquor stores (the next county west is dry) and the afore-mentioned truck stop that first opened 2 years ago.

I found it rather strange that the gas prices weren't posted. Gas is way too expensive, I know , but why not post the price? As I drove by the pump, I noticed why the prices weren't posted:

The price was $4.15 a gallon for Regular Unleaded and $4.99 for Diesel. And guess what? People are buying the gas! A mere 10 miles east or west, the price for Regular Unleaded was $3.95... 20 cents cheaper! Diesel is running around $4.69 a gallon. So why is it so high here? No one is saying. I wonder if the people buying gas knew it was cheaper down the road?

Based upon my own experiences in the convenience store industry, I can tell you that the average profit on a gallon of gas is 5-8 cents. So this station must be making at least 25 cents profit per gallon... that seems a bit steep.

Again, no one can tell me why the gas costs so much more here. Maybe it's a simple case of greed?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Powell Bridge Saved!!

The Joplin Globe reports the Big Sugar Creek bridge at Powell, Missouri has been saved from destruction. Built circa 1912, this bridge was slated for replacement due to its age and having a 3 Ton weight limit. Now the bridge will be preserved for future generations as a pedestrian bridge.

I have a bit of a vested interest in this bridge: not only do some of my photos appear on Bridgehunter, but I was approached back in January by the McDonald County Museum in Pineville, asking permission to use some my photos in a display on the history of the bridge.

It's been 3 years this July since I took my first photos of the Powell bridge. Since then, I have not only upgraded my camera, but I have learned a lot more about taking photos. I really need to go back up there sometime soon.

Blue means STOP ??

A recent discussion on the roadgeek yahoo group yielded the appearance of a blue stop sign. Yes, blue. Not yellow, not red, but blue.

This oddity was spotted in a parking lot in Hawaii and was explained that signs on private property (such as parking lots) can be any color except MUTCD standard (in this case, red). Seems to me like someone has misinterpreted the guidelines.

The actual sign and the story behind it can be found here.

It is reported that a proposed change to the MUTCD will eliminate any confusion and specify that all signs must conform to federal standards, including ones on private property. I wonder if that will affect the non-standard Interstate 55 sign I saw in Illinois a few years back?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Classic Lodging

Back in April, I travelled to St Louis for a Mid-West Roadgeek Meeting (personally, I prefer Road Scholar, but that's another story). At least half of the people Day Tripped, but given the distance from home, I opted to stay in town a couple days (gave me a great excuse to do some sightseeing & photography). I searched the internet looking for the best deal on a motel room. There were lots of franchise motels, but nothing close to old Route 66 where I really wanted to stay. I contacted some people on the Route 66 discussion list and was referred an older motel in the community of Marlborough.

The Wayside Motel is one of the last of a dying breed: the motor court. To my knowledge, it's the last motor court on old Route 66 in Missouri. Where most motels/hotels feature just a room in a large building, the rooms at the Wayside are actually cottages with attached garages. Built in 1940's, you just don't see anything like this anymore. A lot of them (including the Coral Court across the street) have been torn down to make way for subdivisions or blandly generic franchise motels.
I'll be honest: the inside of the room looked like it needed a little bit of work (mostly replacing flat bed pillows or repairing a faulty light fixrure), but the bathroom looked a lot like it probably did when the Wayside first opened: tile floors and walls with a walk-in shower. But the room was clean, quiet and comfortable though slightly on the small side (about as big as the average discount motel room).
OK, I probably paid about $5 more than I would have had I stayed crosstown at a franchise motel, but it was worth it! I can stay at a "super inn" anytime (and have), but a chance to stay at a classic motel such as they Wayside doesn't come very often.
I applaud those who have preserved this piece of classic Americana and hope the Wayside continues to serve weary travellers for generations to come.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Flickring *

I have at least 5 or 6 blogs in my head that I haven't gotten around to posting. I simply haven't had much time. I travel a lot on weekends and have been gone something like 6 weekends in a row. The upside of that is I've taken lots of road photos, which I have uploaded to my Flickr pages. Most recently, I was in Oklahoma and Texas and managed to get few photos of road signs, bridges and this traffic signal in Hugo, Oklahoma at the intersection of Business US 70 and Business US 271.

This is the only remaining signal (that I know of) that has a 4 phase cycle (Green-Yellow-Yellow Red-Red). I first discovered this signal 4-5 years ago and took a couple photos of it then. I returned last week with a better camera and took some more photos as well as a short movie. While I'm a bit surprised this signal is still here, I'm glad it has yet to be replaced by bland modernization.

Now that I have a couple weeks off the road, maybe I'll have time to post a blog or two. Until that time, feel free to explore my Flickr photo pages (now with over 1200 photos from 13 states) and leave a comment or two if you so choose.

(* with apologies to Comrade Otto Yamamoto)

Monday, May 12, 2008

RIP Full Serve Gas

My city has lost its last 2 "Full Service" gas stations.

One of them was sold both Full and Cash-only Self Service plus performed auto repairs. I noticed last week that the business has been sold and the new owner has removed the gas pumps.

A second station had only opened within the last 2 years in an old Conoco station. They advertised Full Service gas at Self Service prices. I noticed last month that the gas pumps are now blocked off.

I guess all the independents have being squeezed out by the high price of gas.

Speaking of gas: why do gas stations charge more for gas after it's already paid for and in the tanks? In other words: If the retail price goes up 10 cents, why do gas stations apply that price to gas they've already paid for as opposed to just the next shipment they receive? 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

US 271 in Arkansas

I've been reading some old maps the last few days. I'm doing a little research for the US Ends webpage into former termini for US 271 and US 270 in Arkansas. Why? Mostly for the heck of it, partially out of curiousity.

US 271's north end has always been in Fort Smith. It's original 1926 end was at US 71 and US 64 (Towson St and Garrison Ave). It then crossed into Oklahoma over the Poteau River somewhere around E Street (the bridge is long gone). Sometime in the 1930's, it was moved south to Y Street and Highway 71 and crossed into Oklahoma around Arkoma and what is now Oklahoma Highway 9A. In the 1950's, it was moved to its current end at Business US 71 and Arkansas Highway 255 in southern Fort Smith heading south approximately 2 miles the crossing into Oklahoma near Pocola... or so I believed.

I was looking at some Arkansas maps the other day and found a 4th terminus for US 271. It's actually what would have been its 3rd endpoint and isn't far off from it's currrent terminus. It dates back to circa 1950 to around 1975 and is at US71, Towson St and Waco St. 71 curves SE and becomes Zero Street before turning off and heading south towards Texarkana. What 271 did was follow Towson, then turn slightly southeast then south towards what is now Interstate 540 at the south end of town. So the difference between the 3rd terminus and now is only about 1-2 blocks. It appears to have been moved when Highway 255 was constructed as a truck bypass.

Now as for 271's southern terminus, that's a tale for another day. Suffice it to say it was changed from US 71 near Mena to ending now near Tyler, Texas.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bridge to the Past

I have uploaded many of my bridge photos to a Flickr photo album. Some of these photos date back as far as 2004 while one of the bridges dates back to 1913 (well, OK, it's actually more of a culvert). I will be adding more photos to the album as time permits (I have a CD full of photos from 2005-2006 that I've misplaced, plus lots of bridges I still want to photograph). So feel free to stop by every once in a while and see what's new.

You can follow this link or click the link on the sidebar that says US 71's Bridge Photos.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rare Find

I spent last weekend in Memphis at a Sci-Fi /Fantasy Convention. On my way home, I opted to drive US 70 between Hazen and North Little Rock. I had driven the Interstate on my way to Memphis and decided I wanted a change of scenery on the way home.
Just east of Kerr, I spotted an old concrete culvert next to the highway. My curiosity getting the better of me, I stopped to investigate. It obviously had seen better days judging by the piece broken off the east end. I figured the culvert went back 60 years or so to the time before US 70 was completely paved. Imagine my surprise when I found a date on it: 1913. This plain looking concrete culvert actually pre-dates US 70 by 11 years.
Well, I pulled out my old maps and found this road was once called the Airline Route and followed what's now US 70 from Little Rock to near Widener (paralleling the Chicago-Rock Island Railroad) then modern-day Arkansas 50 to near Simsboro.
In an era when old bridges are destroyed without a second thought to make way for new ones, it's refreshing to see this old piece of highway history still standing after nearly 95 years.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Conway to Eudora on US 65

I recently had the opportunity to travel down US 65 south of Conway, Arkansas on my way to an SCA event. My trip started the usual way: following the Interstates. As I approached Conway, I opted to follow old US 65.

Through Conway, old 65 is posted as Bus US 65 (the "mainline" following I-40). At the south end of town, Bus 65 turns into AR 365 passing through Maumelle and Morgan on its way towards Little Rock.

If you look closely, there is an even older alignment of US 65 that parallels 365 south of Conway. This road only lasts a few miles (to near Mayflower), but is just to the west, across the railroad tracks.

Beyond Maumelle, 365 crosses I-40 the first time and continues southeast. Entering North Little Rock, 365 travels over the Amboy overpass which passes over the Union Pacific RR and Parkway Dr (an even older alignment of US 65). Just past here, 365 crosses Arkansas Highway 176 to Camp Robinson then crosses Interstate 40 again as it continues along its leisurely path.

Approaching US 70 Business, 365 appears to end, but actually continues along south Business 70 across the Arkansas River into Little Rock, then along Broadway St through the old downtown area. Eventually, 365 turns east along Roosevelt Road then south along Springer Blvd (formerly Comfederate Blvd) passing through Sweet Home, Woodson and White Hall on its way towards Pine Bluff ending at the Martha Mitchell Expressway (Business US 65). Here, there are 2 different alignments of old 65: I opted for Bus 65 (built as US 65 in the mid 1960's) which is a 4 lane divided roadway with numerous traffic signals and side roads. The other route is along Blake Street to 6th, then east along Arkansas Highway 190 (the original alignment of US 65). The 2 roads meet each other in southeast Pine Bluff at the southern end of Interstate 530 which is also posted as US 425 for approximately 3 miles.

After 425 turns off on its own , US 65 starts its on again/off again divided segments. With a few exceptions, US 65 is 4 lanes all the way to Lake Village. At Grady, 65 goes back to being 2 lanes, a bypass is under construction just to the north of town that will make US 65 a 4 lane road in this area all the way to Varner.

Just north of Mitchellville an older alignment of US 65 parallelis the current roadway about half a mile to the west. This road passes through old downtown Dumas before eventually becoming dirt road. Even though I opted to to head back to the main road, the dirt road parallels US 65 to at least Tillar, possibly McGehee (my best guess without driving the whole road is this is the original alignment of US 65). At Dumas, US 65 again becomes a divided highway, though there are a few short undivided sections around Tillar, Winchester and McGehee. US 165 joins 65 at Dumas and the two run together to around 5 miles south of McGehee. A couple miles south of McGehee are green signs proclaiming "Future Corridor Interstate 69", though no work has yet to begin in this area.

At the junction of US 82 in Lake Village, the 4-lane abrubtly stops. Though I skipped them this trip (having travelled them once before) part of the old highway into town is posted as Arkansas 159. It crosses 65/82 at the south end of town, then continues to
Eudora 15 miles south. Arkansas 159 is a paved road for approximately 2 miles south of Lake Village, then becomes an unpaved county road becoming paved again just before the Eudora city limits.

How did I find all the old alignments of US 65? Lots of research. My main ways are : #1 comparing old maps to current ones, #2 observing the railroads (many early US highways closely paralleled the railroads). It's not as easy as it looks, though. A lot of my discoveries have been through trial and error: following leads that sometimes turn out to be dead-ends.

There is one additional old section of US 65: this just south of Eudora along Arkansas 8. Passing next to cotton fields on its way towards Grand Lake, this section or old 65 is not very well maintained: it's narrow, full of potholes and poorly patched in places. There are also sections of roadway that look washed away. It was, needless to say, NOT a smooth ride (I daresay I've travelled smoother dirt roads). Eventually, AR 8 returns to 65 about a mile north of the Louisiana state line.

As far as my adventures in Louisiana, well, I'll leave those for another blog.