Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year End Wrap-up

Well, I missed my goal of 6000 photos on Flickr. My final tally will be in the 4500 range. It was a lofty goal, but I thought I could do it. Unfortunately, the slow economy prevented me from taking as many long trips, so I had fewer opportunities for bridge photos and odd sign photos.

I did get do drive through New Orleans back in March and found lots of photo ops. I wish I'd had more time to explore the area than I did, but I can always go back another day.

I also found some old bridges between Ottawa & Emporia, KS, thanks in part to Richie "Route 56" Kennedy. I've also seen several on Bridgehunter that I really want to go find. I don't know if I'll make it anytime soon, but I can always hope.

So it was a good year for photos, but not a spectacular year... but I can always vow to do better next year.

I think for 2011, I'll set a goal of 8500 photos on Flickr. There are several older bridges along old US 63 near Jonesboro I want to go find, plus a WPA bridge near Gilbert that appears to be well preserved. I wish I had the time and money to simply take a week and do all these in one trip.

Well, as they say in the movies: "that's a wrap". Thanks for reading and see you again in 2011.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Does Not Compute

Part of being a Road Scholar (or Roadgeek if you prefer) is a 6th sense about roads. I can often sense when something is different or not quite right.

This happened to me recently along US 71/I-540 between the Missouri State Line and Fort Smith. I wasn't sure what it was, at first, but something didn't feel right. Then one day, I did a mileage check: as I drove it, it was 97 miles from the Missouri State Line along US 71 to the Oklahoma State Line near Fort Smith along I-540 (technically, it's US 271 at the State Line, but it's a continuation of 540). This was as I drove it, following US 71's current alignment along I-540 and I-40. No big deal, right?

Now, it gets interesting: as 71 is signed, it is 100 miles from Missouri to Oklahoma. I base this off the mileposts and exit numbers along 71 and 540. The last posted exit is Exit 98 for AR 340 at Bella Vista. From there, it is two more miles to the Missouri State Line. So that means the exit number is wrong if you base it on how I drive it. The next numbered exit going south is Exit 93 for US 71B at Bentonville. It's also incorrect. My calculations show it is 7 miles from 71B to the Missouri State Line, so this should be exit 90, not 93.

Based on what I have found, the error occurs somewhere between US 62 (Exit 86) and 71B (Exit 93). I've not figured out at exactly what point the error occurs, but may be a matter of multiple round-off errors (rounding mileage up to the next Milepost). Either way, it probably doesn't make much difference and I'm probably the only person who has noticed this.

Someday, maybe I'll ask AHTD about it... but not today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Recession?

Normally, I don't delve much into politics, but I felt the need to rant a little.

As many of you are aware, the US is in the middle of a Recession... or ARE we?

For the average individual (including myself) this has been a rough year. Yet, there are some who don't feel it and aren't affected: big business.

It's interesting to note that while a lot of folks are just getting by, major corporations seem to have money to burn.

For example: how many major hotel chains have introduced new or remodeled logos this past year (I can name at least 3)? How many small chains have bought up by their larger rivals? For major corporations, there is no Recession: they still have plenty of money.

Yet, many small businesses are hurting: how many individual hotels have changed brands in the past year? I've seen Holiday Inns become Ramada, Super 8's become Americas Best Value. I've seen name brand hotels suddenly change to "no name" (or generic names like "Budget Inn" or "Economy Inn"). Why? Because franchise fees are lower, commissions are lower and maintenance standards are lower. So to save a few dollars, hotel owners are opting for cheaper franchises to conserve their money.

I'm using hotels as an example, but they are by no means the only industry.

Now then, we have a brand new Congress coming to Washington, DC in January. Who do they want to give tax breaks to? The corporations! The same people who seem to have plenty of money already.

WTF?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Going Round in Circles

An article in the Arkansas Times reports a new Roundabout (or Traffic Circle as some call it) has opened in North Little Rock at the intersection of Pike Ave., Riverfront Drive and Broadway (AR 365 at AR 100). No sooner did officials cut the ribbon when a driver went the wrong way through the Roundabout. Kind of makes me wonder how they would have reacted to a Diverging Diamond?



Everywhere a Sign

As many of you know, my fascination with highways includes signs. I have about half a dozen old signs in my possession, plus a couple modern remakes of old signs.

I read recently that AHTD (Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept) was planning to replace the exit signs along I-540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville. The new signs will be metropolitan-style exit signs: instead of a destination, the street name will be used. US 412, for example, will change from Springdale/Tontitown/Siloam Springs to Sunset Ave.

The changeover is occurring slowly with the first signs to change being for US 62/AR 180 which went from the Farmington/University of Arkansas Exit to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

Next was AR 112 which went from a no-name exit to Garland Ave.

What happened after that, requires some explanation

This is for the former Johnson exit, now Great House Spring Rd

Except it's not Great House Spring Rd, it's Greathouse (1 word) Springs (plural) Rd.... or County Rd 54


So what happened? Probably a contractor error... someone not paying attention when the signs were made.

As, for what happens next, who knows? So far, I think I'm the only one who has caught this error. I've contacted AHTD to see if they know about this, so I guess we'll see what happens ;)


UPDATE: I received the following message from AHTD this morning:

We made the mistake of making the signs with the same wording the City of Johnson has on their street name signs. Afterwards, we found out their signs were wrong. We are in the process of correcting the signs to read "Greathouse Springs Rd".

OK. now I need to investigate that.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Distractions

My bad... I've been distracted as of late. Long story short, I was in Booneville, AR one weekend, Colmesneil, TX the next and Springfield, MO the weekend after that. I've got lots of photos, though... mostly from Texas and Louisiana (yes, I've been in Louisiana, too). 

I've got lots of stuff to blog about IF I can find the time/clear my head enough. I have some updates on I-49 construction in Louisiana, a little bit of Arkansas I-49 news, and a plethora of other random bits including a pseudo-political commentary. 

I guess I just need to sit down and make some time every day to post.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On-Line Maps

I'm sure almost all of you have seen them and many of you have used them: on-line maps. There are several different maps sites out there including MSN/Mapblast, Yahoo, Bing and a few more.

I recently took a trip to Memphis and looked up my route using Google maps (I was going to a campsite I'd never been to before). It told me it was 320 miles and would take 4.7 hours. Doing a little math, I came up with just over 68 mph.  At 65 mph as I usually drive (better gas mileage) it would take 4.9 hours.  Mind you, that is non-stop (no gas stops, no bathroom breaks, no stopping at the golden arches).  So I planned on 5 1/2 hours. It took me about 10 minutes over that due to traffic and lower speed limits on some of the roads.

So if you use on-line maps, always allow extra time beyond what the information tells you. My general rule is to allow at least 30 minutes more for every 6 hours. That allows for slow traffic, gas stops, etc.

ALSO: before you go, verify the given directions with a map or atlas. Most on-line maps use primary roads for their routing and you can occasionally save time by selecting a secondary route. When I travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I'm often routed along I-40 to Memphis, then down I-55 to Jackson, the along US 49. But if I go down I-530/US 65 from Pine Bluff, I save around 80 miles and almost an hour driving time. It's also much more scenic ;)

Bottom line: if you use on-line maps, always allow more driving time than the site gives you and don't be afraid to check for alternate routings. Most importantly , however, is keep a map or an atlas with you on your trip. Google won't tell you if a bridge if closed for repairs or if the road washed out.  And occasionally, they get the route numbers wrong. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over the Rainbow

For those who haven't guessed, I love signs. I've never figured out why, but I do. 

Doing some research into highways and signage, I have found that some states used to have colored signs... ie: not simply black & white. Mississippi, for example, once used blue, red and green (a different color for each direction)

 

Well, through the "miracle" of e-bay where I "window shop" for lots of signs, I've discovered another style: partially colored US 16 in South Dakota:

 (No, that's not the actual photo... it's a photoshop rendition)

Of course, most of these signs disappeared by the late 1950's/early 1960's... part of AASHTO & USDOT's plan to homogenize highway signage. 

As near as I can tell, Arkansas and Missouri had no technicolor signage. Texas didn't either, though they had their own variant of the US cut-out shield:Image courtesy AA Roads

I would love to have seen a colored Arkansas sign, but alas, they never existed. Guess I'll have to make my own someday.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Ketchup ;)

Yes, I have a lot of catching up to do. Between being on the road almost every weekend and my computer crashing, I have lots of news to catch up on.

News in Brief:

4 new interchanges have opened on US 71 north of Carthage, MO

  • MO 126
  • Routes V/C
  • Routes DD/EE
  • MO 52 East

Arkansas has taken a few small steps towards building I-49 between Bentonville & the Missouri State Line. For now, it appears it will be built as a "Super 2" (2 lanes, controlled access) over a period of about 10 years, to be upgraded to 4 Lanes as money becomes available.

For sign fanatics: I-540 in NW Arkansas is receiving new exit signage, with street names instead of city designations. First ones appeared last month at Exit 62  for US 62/AR 180 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (formerly Farmington/University of Arkansas exit).

I'll have more information on these tidbits in a couple days. In the meantime, I have lots of Missouri and Arkansas photos to upload on Flickr. Several bridges (including a stone culvert on old US 50 at Union, MO) and a random assortment of road signs (including a couple AR 87 signs spotted in Missouri). 

Guess I better get busy!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I've Been Published (Again!)

As regular readers may remember, one of my photos appeared in the Ft Scott Tribune a few weeks ago. Since then, some more of my photos have been published.

An old SCA friend of mine, Kat Robinson, writes Tie Dye Travels: a food and travel blog specializing in out of the way attractions and eateries. A recent series of articles covered a trip she took to Lake Village, Arkansas and Greenville, Mississippi including a visit to the Greenville Bridge, which included several of my photos of the old bridge.

That's twice, now. Maybe I'm on to something here?


Saturday, August 21, 2010

New but Not New

Sometimes, I like to get out of the house for a few hours and go for a random drive. When I'm simply out wandering, I find it relaxing as it gets my mind off the troubles of the world. Sometimes, I just go and come home with little to show for it. The other day, I was "rewarded" for taking a drive by discovering a new highway: AR 282S

Actually, it's not all that new. For many years, it was Dollard Road from AR 282 near Mountainburg to the wilds of Crawford County. When AR 540 (I-540's predecessor) was built from Alma to Mountainburg in the 1990's, it became an extension of 540 back to US 71 (partially co-signed with an new alignment of AR 282, bypassing the old Silver Bridge over Frog Bayou). 

After AR 540 became I-540, the half mile section of road became an East-West alignment of AR 282 while the rest continued to be posted as North-South.

However, the most recent change has redesignated this as 282S, though it is only posted westbound (eastbound is posted as TO 282)


Confusing? You bet! But, that's Arkansas: always "improving" things that don't need improving.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Search of Old 62

US 62 didn't exist until 1930. In Arkansas, it was posted either as AR 47 or as AR 12. All across the state, there are small sections of county road plus various state routes and business routes that are former alignments of US 62. Many of these I have discovered on my own, a few I have found by looking at old maps.

Two days ago, I found another possible alignment that I had never noticed before. It roughly parallels 62 for about a mile just southeast of US 65 near Bellfonte. Someone sent me a lead on a possible old bridge in the vicinity so I pulled up Google maps to trangulate.

I was looking the county road and noticed it appeared to intersect US 62 in two locations... or did at one time. It appears to have been cut-off at the east end, but the satellite photo seems to show traces of the old roadway.

courtesy Google maps

The blue line shows what I suspect to be old 62. The red line shows the possibly abandoned section. My research tells me there is at least one old bridge on Brack Kimes Rd, plus a possible second one on Huzzah Rd which branches off to the north and west about a third of the way down Kimes Rd.

There is only one way to find out: I have to go there. I've been looking for an excuse to go over that way, so I guess I have one now. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Other Stuff

In addition to my usual road & bridge photos, I've been working on a few things for Landmark Hunter. I was up in Fayetteville last week so I took the opportunity to snag a few photos. 

Washington County Courthouse, built 1905

The Guisinger Building, built 1886

Washington County Jail, built 1896

My first love is roads, but occasionally, something else will catch my attention.

Lost in the Woods

I'm so far behind on posting, it's like I've been lost in the woods. Yet, maybe that's not a bad thing: some of my favorite bridge finds are lost in the woods. I found one back in March north of Pineville, Louisiana.

 

While this looks like just an abandoned road (it's an abandoned section of US 71) it actually "hides" an old bridge over Hudson Creek. When I saw this out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to stop and investigate. I had to walk about 1/4 mile (which seemed longer) to get to this bridge. Needless to say, I was not disappointed by what I discovered.

 

The concrete "fence-rail" design of this bridge was popular in the 1930's and early 1940's. What little information I can find seems to indicate this bridge may have still been in service until the 1960's. As you can see, it's been hit many times by overweight trucks or errant motorists. What really sets this bridge apart from so many others, though, is this end rail:

 Many older bridges in Louisiana and Mississippi have the highway, the bridge name and date imprinted on the end of the bridge. Here you can see "US 71" as well as "Hudson Creek" imprinted in the concrete. I was unable to find the exact date it was built, however, (it's possibly on the other end of the bridge where the end rail is missing) so I'm not sure when this was built, though as I already said, the design seems to say 1930's. 

One other item of note is the west end-rail: 

if you look closely, you can see the remnants of the black & white hazard markings painted on the bridge.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

PULL OVER!

It never ceases to amaze me how many ignorant drivers are out there. I was on I-40 this afternoon and spied an ambulance quickly coming up behind me with its lights on. I pulled over into the right-hand lane, then pulled over to the shoulder. 

Most of the other cars and trucks kept going, causing the ambulance weave around them.

Doesn't anyone know how to pull over and let emergency vehicles pass?

Greenville Bridge Opens

Courtesy of MDOT:

U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge near Greenville is now Opened to Traffic

JACKSON, MISS., Wednesday, August 4, 2010---With the U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge Dedication Ceremony held last week, motorists will be happy to know that the bridge opened to traffic today, according to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials.

The U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge opened to traffic today around 5:30 p.m. The four-lane bridge, which links Mississippi and Arkansas, replaces a narrow 1940 structure 2,800 feet upstream. Each travel lane on the new bridge is 12 feet wide, and the bridge includes 12-foot outside shoulders and 8-foot inside shoulders to enhance safety and traffic flow. The structure connects the Mississippi Delta to Interstate 55 and other four-lane highways such as U.S. Highway 61 and U.S. Highway 65 in Arkansas.

While the bridge has opened to traffic, MDOT urges motorists to be advised that crews will be working on the bridge making last minute improvements. Please slow down and pay close attention to crews, signage and equipment in the area. As always, when approaching a work zone, please reduce your speed.

It's about time! It was supposed to open last week (they even held a ribbon cutting), but as of Friday, it still wasn't open. Near as I can tell, MDOT wanted to repave US 82 up to the edge of the old bridge before the new one opened. 

At least I got some more photos of the old bridge and a few of the new one:




Monday, August 02, 2010

Sad and Ironic

It's a little sad and a bit ironic when a road scholar knows more that the state transportation department.

In trying to find out the history of the Melville Ferry, I contacted the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. I explained that I was trying to find out the history since the ferry is on an old alignment of US 71 (and possibly the old Jefferson Trail). The response I received was to the effect of "we think it's over 50 years old, but we don't know anything else".

You mean, what little I know is still more than LADOTD knows? That's so funny in the wrong sort of way.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Don't Pay the Ferryman

It's not just old bridges which are going away, it's ferries.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has announced the Melville Ferry will cease operations in October due to economic circumstances. According to various news stories, it costs LADOTD $100 to $150 per vehicle to operate the ferry, while it charges $1 to use the ferry. 

I visited Melville 2 years ago, but was unable to use the ferry since it was a Sunday (it only operates Monday through Friday). I had hoped to go back next Spring and visit it again, perhaps having the opportunity to actually ride on it. If I want to do that, I'll have to drive down there sometime in the next two months, which doesn't appear likely.

Information regarding the history of the ferry is sparse to non-existant. I can tell you it crosses the Atchafalaya River along an old alignment of US 71 (now LA 10) and that the highway is unpaved east of the river. I've contacted LADOTD who said LA 10 would remain in service, as is, for now with signs being posted to redirect traffic around the closed ferry.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Time Wasters

As if I didn't have enough stuff to waste my time, there's a new website call Landmark Hunters It starts with your basic National Register of Historic Places entries and expands to cover other points of interest as well, such as old traffic signals, bridges (of course), service stations,  even old roadways and barns.

There's just not enough time in the day for me to post there and do everything else I need to do. I need twice as many hours in the day and less to do.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

1 Highway, 3 alignments

I was in Beebe, Arkansas recently and continued some research into old alignments of US 67. Being a major North-South highway between Little Rock and Missouri, it has been upgraded and improved numerous times. Based upon some old maps and personal research, I have found 3 separate alignments.

(1) 1926 Original alignment: north from Ward to US 64 approx a mile west of Beebe. East to Beebe then northwest along East Center St (now US 67B)

(2) 1939 Alignment: northwest from Ward along current AR 367. Old 67 through Beebe becomes US64C.

(3) 1973 Alignment: current 4 Lane alignment just west of Ward and Beebe.

This map puts all 3 alignments in perspective:

1926, 1939, 1973

Very little remains of 67's original alignment.  If you look closely, when you're driving along AR 367 north of Ward, you can see a faint path from US 67's original alignment.  From US 64, old 67 is a narrow 2-Lane street which dead-ends into the woods near modern 67.

Eventually, I want to track US 67 from Little Rock to the Missouri State Line, possibly from Little Rock to Texarkana as well (I've actually already tracked part of 67 near Texarkana).

Why? Because it's there. Because I have a fascination with old roads. 

I'm also working on US 71, but that's best left for another day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I've Been Published

... sort of.

One of my photos appears today in the Fort Scott Tribune.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Issac Asimov

Really now?

I write like
Isaac Asimov

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


An Accident Waiting to Happen

Another quick note. 

I stayed in a couple hotels on my trip including the Travelodge in Ottawa, KS. The place is obviously an older hotel that has seen better days.The room was small, the shower was dirty and the a/c control panel was so worn you could barely see the settings.

My biggest concern, however, was the ice machine:

A missing panel, exposed wiring...this is an accident waiting to happen! I wasn't sure about staying here again due to the run down conditions and the poor quality service, but this makes me want to run away very quickly. I think it's only a matter of time before someone is hurt or there is an electrical fire. 

I'm Tired!

Got back last evening from a 5 day trip to Ottawa, Kansas. I came home with over 1200 photos (though I only wind up using about 1 in 5) of signs, bridges and other items of interest, including this bridge over the BNSF Railroad northwest of Ottawa

(get out of the way, Richie)

I love traveling, seeing the countryside and taking photos, but it's exhausting! It always takes me a few days to recover. I'd love to be able to sleep all day, but there is too much to do around the house (so what am I doing here? I've got laundry to do.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Here we go again!

Last Summer, US 71 north of Mountaiburg was closed for several months following a washout. What started out as a relatively simple project turned into something more. Instead of fixing one lane, the whole roadway had to be rebuilt.  Eventually, the roadway was repaired and everything returned to normal.

Back in April, I spied another potential washout, again on US 71. This one was approximately 2 miles north of the previous washout, about 2 miles south of Artist's Point.

You can see here the cracks developing as well as some previous attempts to patch the damage.

  

I've been by a couple times since and it appears AHTD has applied some crack sealer to some of the damage... but will that suffice? They did the same thing to the other washout last year until it became apparent it wasn't working. 

Yes, washouts do happen, especially in mountainous areas. AR 7, AR 23, AR 16, US 71... all have suffered washouts. But two in two years along 71? I thought AHTD was still going to care for roadway after I-540 opened... at least, that's what they promised to do. But then, US 71 is over 80 years old. It hasn't had any major work done for over 20 years, and most of that was just widening some of the narrow curves.

Well, OK, AHTD is replacing some bridges between West Fork and Winslow. Now, most of those bridges dated back to the 1960's and were starting to show their age, but I doubt any of them were in danger of collapsing. Why couldn't the money have been used to ensure the roadwasy itself wasn't washing away?

Oh wait! This is Arkansas. We use economic recovery money to repave perfectly good roads and ignore roads and bridges that really need work.

Lost Bridge

One of the things I enjoy when photographing bridges is finding one that's been long since forgotten and abandoned. I've lost count of the number of bridges I have found that everyone else has forgotten about.

One such bridge was the Duck River Bridge at Centerville, TN. A two-span through truss bridge, it was built in 1913 and bypassed by a new bridge in 1970.

Duck River North Approach

I found this bridge in July 2006 on a trip to Columbia, TN. I took some photos and promised I'd be back another day. Somehow, I've just never made it back to that area. There was a time when I'd travel to Tennessee every Summer, but the last few years I haven't.

I received word a few weeks ago that the old bridge is no more: a casualty of the May flooding in parts of Tennessee. The whole bridge was washed away save for a couple piers

 (Photo courtesy Bridgehunter.com)

It's not the first bridge I've visited that is no longer there and it won't be the last. Still, it's a shame to see the old bridges go, either by acts of nature (flood, tornadoes) or acts of man (torn down to make way for a new bridge). 

Friday, July 02, 2010

Going soon. It's time to say goodbye.


As we say "hello" to July, it's time to say good-bye to the Greenville-Lake Village Bridge. Opened in September 1940, the Greenville-Lake Village bridge spans the Mississippi River along US 82. Also known as the Benjamin G. Humphreys Bridge, the bridge has, alas, outlived its usefulness and will soon be razed.

Having driven across the bridge a number of times, I can tell you it's a little nerve wracking. Its total deck width is only 24 feet, meaning it has but 2 narrow travel lanes and no shoulder. That isn't too bad unless there's an on-coming semi-trailer truck or a speed demon on your tail. Still, I hate to see it go... most modern bridges have no personality.

The new bridge, a cable stayed bridge, is being built just to the south of the current bridge. It will have 4 12-foot travel lanes, plus shoulders. Kind of fancy looking, if you ask me:


So, perhaps the old bridge's time has come, but it doesn't make me any happier: I hate to see the old bridges go. There seem to be so few left and growing fewer every year. Too bad no one ever thinks of making one of these a pedestrian bridge like the old Chain of Rocks bridge.

STOP THIEF!

A couple months ago, I noticed one of my photos had shown up on Cafe Press:

Flippin Detour

I took this photo in 2007 near Flippin, Arkansas.  AHTD had just opened a bypass and some of the signage had not been completed. The 178 shield was a bit odd (construction signage often is) so I snapped a photo.

Imagine my surprise when I found my photo on Cafe Press and someone selling shirts with the Flippin Business sign. If you look at my Flickr page, my photos say "All rights reserved". I've shared a few with a couple museums, but I have always requested my name be attached (as in "photo by..."). Well this guy didn't even bother. He simply lifted my photo and hoped I'd never notice.

So I contacted Flickr about this, only to be told in effect "This photo is on an external site so it's not our problem". Not your problem? This is MY photo stolen from YOUR site and it's not your problem?

I then contacted Cafe Press explaining my problem. Although reluctant at first, they eventually contacted the shop owner (who lives in Spain). A week later, I received notice that the photo had been removed and the shop owner was requesting permission to continue selling the goods produced with my pilfered photo.  I agreed, but only if the shop owner agreed to pay me a commission on all items he sold with my image. I never heard back. The photo is gone, but he is continuing to sell items produced from the photo.

So, let that be a lesson to everyone: anything you post on Flickr is subject to theft by a 3rd Party and neither they nor Cafe Press have any respect for intellectual property rights.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Peek a Boo

Anyone who has been to Kansas City in the last year the US 71/MO 150 Interchange is being rebuilt. Traffic is a big mess trying to negotiate all the lane switches & detours. One of the Detour MO 150 signs caught my attention when I was up there a couple weeks ago:


I'm super sizing this photo you can get a good look at it. You can see the Missouri route shield and the route number (150), but something else is there: there appears to be another route number underneath. It looks as if it may be 350. But beyond that, there appears to be the outline of another route shield... something round. But Missouri doesn't have round route shields. So what can it be? Is it a rescued pre-meat cleaver Oklahoma shield? Is it a contractor error using a circle for a Missouri State Route instead of the silhouette? Looking again, I think I see 32 on one of the layers.

Only other thing I can figure out is maybe it's a reused detour sign from Iowa.

I'll probably never know for sure.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Interstates

On this day, June 29, 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act. Inspired by German Autobahns, the Interstate system was designed to ease highway congestion in big cities & small towns and facilitate cross-country travel, though as John Steinbeck wrote in Travels With Charley "it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.”

Well maybe that's a slight exaggeration. There are still things to see along the interstates: usually the rolling plains or steep mountain overlooks. But certainly no rattlesnake museum or Indian trading posts. 

For all the good interstates have done, their creation was all but a death knell for the scenic Sunday drive, US 66 and many small businesses along the old 2-Lane who were unable to adapt.

I still prefer the old 2-Lane when I have the time, but if I'm in a hurry, I'll take the interstate.

(yes, I know: there is NO I-54 and Interstates never used the square font. Call it creative license ;) )

On Jefferson's Trail

I was exploring some old sections of US 71 in Missouri last week and had a bit of a surprise. I was going around a curve and spied this sign:

My curiosity getting the best of me, I decided to head that direction. Then, I found another sign

I'm guessing "Old Jefferson Road" is the old Jefferson Highway, US 71's predecessor? I've just recently taken an interest in the Jefferson Highway, so I'm still piecing things together. 

It appears to closely parallel US 71 though it shifts and runs through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas eventually ending up in New Orleans. It's possible there was an auxiliary route that passed through Arkansas, but I'm still looking for information on that. 

I hear the Powers Museum in Carthage, MO is involved in doing some research, so I may have take a couple days and go up to see what they can tell me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Coming of MO 126

Well, OK...MO 126 really isn't that new... it's been around for a while. It stretches from Golden City (at US 160) west to the Kansas State Line where it continues as K 126. 126 is mostly a rural road with only a few major junctions (MO 37, US 71, MO 43).

Since last Summer, 126 has been closed at US 71 while the at-grade intersection is converted to a full interchange in preparation for upgrading US 71 to I-49, paid for in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The proposed completion date of the interchange is sometime this Fall... or WAS.

MoDOT announced today that the US 71/MO 126 Interchange will open June 30.  June 30? GREAT... or maybe not so great. I have to be someplace else that day, so I will likely miss the ribbon cutting. If by some chance I DO make it, I'll be the guy in the US 71 shirt ;)

Railroad Oddity

Just got home from my annual trip to Kansas City (well, OK... it's been a couple days.) I didn't get quite as many photos this time as I'd hoped, but I got a few. I found a section of the old Jefferson Road between Nevada & Rich Hill, MO, an abandoned section of old US 71 (and lost bridge) near there, plus a few other items I'll be posting to my Flickr pages.

The oddest thing I found was a railroad crossing in Belton, MO. Instead of the traditional red signals or simply a crossbuck, this had a yellow strobe light at either end:






I've never seen this before, so I did a little research: the strobes seem to be to warn the trains when there is traffic present (as opposed to signals warning traffic). This is apparently used only at low volume crossings.

There's not a lot of information available on this set-up. So far, I've not found any other examples.

Now, while I was taking my photos, something else caught my eye: a pair of old steam locomotives

 

These were parked in the rail yard along with a few other cars. Being a Sunday, there really wasn't anyone to ask about the trains, but they appear to simply be on public display. There was an information car, but no one was working. So I guess I'll have to back again sometime. Maybe I can find out more about the yellow strobe lights as well.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

RIP Poteau River US 271

Just got back yesterday from a weekend in Texas. My camera is broken so I didn't get to take any photos, but I DID take the scenic route coming home. At Eufaula, OK I turned off US 69 and followed OK 9 to Pocola. 

I got a quick glimpse of the road construction along US 59, but didn't stop for photos since I had no camera. 

Just west of Spiro, OK 9 joins US 271 on its trek towards Arkansas. When you near Pocola, there's a beautiful 1940's truss bridge over the Poteau River:

Poteau River Bridge-Overview

or WAS. ODOT has removed the bridge to make way for a UCEB (Ugly Concrete Eyesore Bridge). I'm disappointed. ODOT told me in December of 2008 it would be several years before it was replaced (a new bridge for westbound traffic has just recently been completed), but I guess they found the money somewhere to finish the job.

Bummer. :`(

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Want to Go Back

Yes, I know it's been a while... life got in the way. Hopefully, I can make time to keep up with this blog again.

I just got back Tuesday from my annual trip to southern Mississippi. I took a couple extra days going down as well as coming home to do some exploring, photos of which I am slowly uploading to Flickr, such as this abandoned bridge over Hudson Creek along US 71 north of Pineville, LA

 

I even found an old Cities Service gas cottage in Winona, MS

I found lots of bridges along US 90 between New Orleans & Lafayette before I ran out of time such as this bridge over Bayou Des Allemands:

 

I missed so many bridges that I want to go back and see them all. Right now, though, I don't have the time. I wish I did. There is so much anger, hatred & backstabbing in the world these days that I wish I could get away from it all and simply go for a drive and take photos. When I'm on the road, little else matters...I'm simply living in the moment. I weary of all the "talking heads" trying to tell me how to think, how to act. I just want to be left alone. Just me and the roads.