Remembering The U.S. Highway Routes

Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - by Harmon Jolley
Signs for the U.S. Highway routes
Signs for the U.S. Highway routes
- photo by Harmon Jolley

In the 1920’s, the U.S. Highway System was developed through a partnership of the American Association of State Highway Officials and the Bureau of Public Roads of the Department of Agriculture. The Chattanooga Area Regional History Museum is currently featuring an excellent exhibit on the Dixie Highways that were part of the U.S. Highway System. Some local leaders helped to ensure that those thoroughfares included our city, and the Dixie Highway Association had its headquarters here. Several U.S. routes pass through Chattanooga today, and a few originate or terminate (depending on your perspective) here.

You might want to take a vacation trip on one of the U.S. Routes that lead out of Chattanooga. The U.S. Highways don’t allow high-speed travel like the Interstate Highways, but the scenery is a lot more varied. The following is a travel guide that shows each U.S. Route’s terminus, should you decide to travel the entire distance. I contacted each city’s tourist bureau or city government via their e-mail link on the Internet, and asked two questions: 1) Have you ever heard of Chattanooga, and if so, what? 2) What are features of your city that would make Chattanoogans want to visit? I include some facts about each city, regardless whether I received a response. Most of my information came from the Web sites of the various visitor bureaus, as well as U.S. Highway site www.us-highways.com.


U.S. 11: ROUSES POINT, NY to NEW ORLEANS, LA

Rouses Point, New York is on Lake Champlain less than one mile from the Canadian border. It is over 1,100 miles from Chattanooga. Near the city are the ruins of Fort Montgomery, erected in the early 1800’s to replace Fort “Blunder,” which was found to be on Canadian soil. Rouses Point is named for James Rouse, a settler who gave up land for the fort.

New Orleans, Louisiana is approximately 500 miles from Chattanooga. It is well-known for its French Quarter and Mardi Gras celebration. I have twice traveled to the city, with the first trip being a bit frustrating. Our first night’s sleep was interrupted by the folks in the room next to us, who returned at 2:00 am after apparently taking “laissez bon temps roulette” to heart. A group of about four was repeatedly singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” complete with foot-stomping. The next day, when I was on the freeway, I kept bypassing the exit for “Vieux Carre” (translated, “old square”), not knowing that it would lead me to the French Quarter. However, the remainder of our vacation was wonderful, and we enjoyed riding the streetcar, a picnic along Lake Ponchartrain, and a stroll through the Vieux Carre.

U.S. 27: FORT WAYNE, IN to MIAMI, FL

U.S. 27 once carried travelers through Michigan, but that section has been de-certified. Today, its northern terminus is at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne was built in 1794 by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who had been sent to the frontier by George Washington. The city is home of several museums, including one devoted to the history of the Chevrolet Corvette. Fort Wayne is 543 miles from Chattanooga.

Miami, Florida is over 800 miles from Chattanooga. Attractions include the beaches, sports teams, the Everglades, Monkey Jungle, and Parrot Jungle. Miami, as well as other parts of Florida, became a popular tourist attraction through the work of railroad developer Henry Flagler in the early 1900’s.

U.S. 41: COPPER HARBOR, MI to MIAMI, FL

Copper Harbor is on the Keeweenah peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and is 1,071 miles from Chattanooga. Copper mining is part of the area’s history. I received an e-mail response from a person who lives near Copper Harbor. He commented that he had been to Chattanooga many years ago and had lots of fun. However, he noted that Chattanooga and Copper Harbor “couldn’t be more opposite.” Copper Harbor has about 60 permanent residents. He invited Chattanoogans to “come up, relax and look at Lake Superior, watch the northern lights, and cool off.”

U.S. 64: MANTEO, NC to TEEC NOS POS, AZ

A staff member of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau at Manteo said that she had heard of Chattanooga, but had never visited it. She noted that “reasons for visiting the Outer Banks are endless, whether you are a water lover, land lover, or history buff.” Manteo is on Roanoke Island, site of the “Lost Colony” of Sir Walter Raleigh. Manteo was named for an Indian chief. The “Cycle North Carolina” bicycle event is a marathon from the mountains near Murphy, NC to the coast at Manteo.

Over 2,200 miles separate U.S. 64’s eastern end at Manteo and its western terminus at Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, in the northeastern section of the state. Teec Nos Pos had 317 citizens as of the 1990 census. The city is famous for its Navajo weavers and the rugs and tapestries which they make.


U.S. 72: CHATTANOOGA, TN to MEMPHIS, TN

A large bee was once featured on billboards that proclaimed U.S. 72 as the “Bee Line to Memphis.” A staff person at the Memphis visitors’ bureau said that she felt that Memphis and Chattanooga share a lot in common – river city, diverse music, and unique attractions. Memphis is home of Beale Street, Sun Record Studio, Stax Record Museum, and Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland. Memphis is 319 miles from Chattanooga.

U.S. 76: WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC to CHATTANOOGA, TN

Wrightsville Beach, on the Cape Fear coast, is 543 miles from Chattanooga. The city began as a beach resort in 1899, and many rental cottages and condos are there today. Wrightsville Beach was named for the Wright family, owners of land in the area.
U. S. 76 ends at a draw bridge outside the city.


U.S. 127: GRAYLING, MI to CHATTANOOGA, TN

Grayling is in central Michigan. A member of the Grayling Visitors Bureau said that she had once visited Chattanooga and recalled going to Rock City and to the Civil War sites. She said that Grayling was named for the Grayling fish, and that the city offers snowmobiling, ice fishing, and skiing. Grayling is over 800 miles from our city.

If you have memories of these U.S. routes, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net. Wherever your summer vacation takes you, I wish you a safe and pleasant journey!



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