Remember This? The Road Atlas

Planning a vacation? Before you load the car, check your road atlas to be sure you have the latest edition and updated highway information.

When President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956 to create the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”, it slowly changed how Americans traveled across the nation. The U.S. Highway System, which had connected major cities with smaller towns for generations of travelers, was re-routed to create “super-highways” that by passed smaller towns and bi-sected major cities with a multitude of access ramps for speedy travel.

U.S. 66, also known as Route 66, allowed travelers to drive from Chicago to Los Angeles, albeit in a winding manner that followed the landscape of the land. The Interstate system graded the land for paving for a more direct route and portions of U.S. 66 had been supplanted by I-44 across Oklahoma by the mid-1960’s.

As traveling across America via horse-drawn wagons was replaced by automobiles, road maps became more frequent, as roads were paved and widened to accommodate more traffic. Rand-McNally published the first road map for autos in 1904. The Gulf Oil Co. began the frequent practice of handing out free maps to travelers that asked for directions in 1920.

The worn road atlas shown here was produced by This Week Magazine, a weekly supplement that was distributed across the nation to newspaper subscribers and published from 1935-1969. In addition to including maps of all 50 states, the atlas contains flip-out maps for Canada, Latin America, major cities and various national parks.

A section of travel tips advises travelers driving along the turnpike they should stop “every hundred miles…for a little walk-around. Do some muscle stretching, some knee-bends. Touch your toes with your fingertips”. A travel diary on the last page dates this atlas to 1965; the destination was Canada.

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