Auto trail

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1922 map of auto trails
Old style highway markings

The system of auto trails was an informal network of marked routes that existed in the United States and Canada in the early part of the 20th century. Marked with colored bands on utility poles, the trails were intended to help travellers in the early days of the automobile.

Auto trails were usually marked and sometimes maintained by organizations of private individuals. Some, such as the Lincoln Highway, maintained by the Lincoln Highway Association, were well-known and well-organized, while others were the work of fly-by-night promoters, to the point that anyone with enough paint and the will to do so could set up a trail. Trails were not usually linked to road improvements, although counties and states often prioritized road improvements because they were on trails.

In the mid-to-late 1920s, the auto trails were essentially replaced with the United States Numbered Highway System. The Canadian provinces had also begun implementing similar numbering schemes.

List of auto trails

Name North or east end South or west end U.S. Highways (approximate, based on 1926 plan and later additions) Notes
Albert Pike Highway Hot Springs, Arkansas Colorado Springs, Colorado US 270, US 64, US 183, US 154, US 50, US 85
Aroostook Trail Old Town, Maine Fairfield, Maine Maine Route 100, US 2
Arrowhead Trail Salt Lake City, Utah Los Angeles, California US 91
Atlantic Highway Calais, Maine Miami, Florida US 1, US 25, US 17, US 1
Atlantic and Pacific Highway New York, New York Los Angeles, California US 1, US 211, US 15, US 33, US 60, US 52, US 460, US 50, US 54, US 70, US 60
Atlantic Yellowstone Pacific Highway Chicago, Illinois Sioux Falls, South Dakota US 20, US 218, US 18
Baltimore Pike Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Baltimore, Maryland
Bankhead Highway Washington, D.C. San Diego, California US 1, US 15, US 70, US 170, US 29, US 78, US 70, US 67, US 80
Bee Line Highway Chicago, Illinois New Orleans, Louisiana US 51
Ben Hur Highway St. Louis, Missouri Fort Dodge, Iowa
Black and Yellow Trail Chicago, Illinois Yellowstone National Park US 41, US 16, US 14, US 16, US 20
Blackhawk Highway Dixon, Illinois Beloit, Wisconsin IL 2, IL 251, US 51
Broadway Of America San Diego, California New York City, New York US 80, Arizona 87, Arizona 84, US 80, US 67, US 70, US 41, US 70S, US 70, US 11W, US 11, US 211, US 1, US 40, US 13, US 1 Later addition auto trail, established in 1930. One alignment used Arizona 87 and Arizona 84 between Gila Bend and Tucson, another followed US 80 between both cities.[1][2]
California-Banff Bee Line
Cannon Ball Route Chicago, Illinois Hannibal, Missouri
Capital Route Omaha, Nebraska Austin, Texas
Chicago, Kansas City and Gulf Highway Chicago, Illinois Galveston, Texas
Colorado to Gulf Highway Denver, Colorado Galveston, Texas, and Brownsville, Texas US 85, US 385, US 370, US 81, US 181
Columbia River Highway Pendleton, Oregon Portland, Oregon US 30
Cooley Highway Grand Rapids, Minnesota Sisseton, South Dakota
Cornhusker Highway Sioux City, Iowa Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Custer Battlefield Highway Omaha, Nebraska Glacier National Park US 75, US 16, US 116, US 87E, US 87
Dallas-Canadian-Denver Highway Boulder, Colorado Galveston, Texas US 85, US 50, US 83, US 70, US 77
Daniel Webster Highway Chartierville, Quebec Franconia, New Hampshire
Detroit-Lincoln-Denver Highway Detroit, Michigan Denver, Colorado US 12, US 32, US 38
Dixie Highway Chicago, Illinois and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Miami, Florida Illinois 1, US 136, US 31, Indiana 37, US 150, US 31W
Dixie Bee Line Chicago, Illinois Nashville, Tennessee US 41, US 241
Dixie Overland Highway Savannah, Georgia San Diego, California US 80, US 84, US 380, US 366, US 80
Egyptian Trail Chicago, Illinois Cairo, Illinois
Electric Highway Forsyth, Montana Helena, Montana US 12, US 89
Evergreen National Highway Victoria, British Columbia El Paso, Texas US 99, US 10, US 97, US 410, US 95, US 30, US 30N, US 91, US 95, US 66
Florida Short Route
French Lick Route Cincinnati, Ohio Evansville, Indiana US 50, State Road 37, US 150, State Road 56, US 231, and State Road 62
George Washington Memorial Highway Cambridge, Massachusetts Agawam, Massachusetts
George Washington National Highway Savannah, Georgia Seattle, Washington
Geysers-to-Glaciers Highway Glacier National Park Yellowstone National Park US 89 W from West Yellowstone to Shelby, Montana; US 2 from Shelby to Cut Bank, Montana; and MT 213 from Cut Bank to the Canada–US border[3]
Glacier to Gulf Motorway Calgary, Alberta Tampico, Mexico
Glacier Trail Seattle, Washington Jacksonville, Florida
Grant Highway Chicago, Illinois Portland, Oregon US 20
Great Plains Road Portal, North Dakota Brownsville, Texas
Great White Way Davenport, Iowa Council Bluffs, Iowa US 6 Also known as the White Pole Road
International Peace Highway Quebec, Quebec, and Rouses Point, New York Laredo, Texas, and Mexico City, Mexico
Jackson Highway Chicago, Illinois New Orleans, Louisiana US 152, US 52, US 31, US 168, US 68, US 31, US 43, US 45, US 11
Jefferson Highway Winnipeg, Manitoba New Orleans, Louisiana US 59, US 2, US 71, US 10N, US 10, US 65, US 69, US 71/US 73E, US 73, US 75, US 69, US 67, US 271, US 80, US 171, US 71, US 61
Jefferson Davis National Highway Washington, D.C. San Diego, California US 1, US 278, US 29, US 80, US 43, US 90, US 96, US 277, US 90
King of Trails Winnipeg, Manitoba Galveston, Texas, and Brownsville, Texas US 75/US 81, US 75/US 77, US 75, US 73, US 73E, US 50, US 73W, US 75, US 77, US 81, US 181, US 96
Lackawanna Trail Binghamton, New York Delaware, New Jersey US 11,[4] US 611[5]
Lakes to Gulf Highway Duluth, Minnesota Galveston, Texas
Lakes-to-Sea Highway Atlantic City, New Jersey Erie, Pennsylvania US 30, US 120, US 22, US 322, US 19
Lee Highway New York, New York San Francisco, California US 1, US 211, US 11, US 72, US 70, US 366, US 80, US 180, US 80, US 101
Lewis and Clark Highway Missoula, Montana Lewiston, Idaho
Liberty Highway New York, New York Cleveland, Ohio New Jersey 4, New Jersey 17, New York 17, New York 430, New York 394, US 20[6]
Lincoln Highway New York, New York San Francisco, California US 1, US 30, US 40, US 93, US 50, US 99, US 48
Logan-Lee Highway Rock Island, Illinois Paducah, Kentucky US 67, Illinois 3
Lone Star Route Chicago, Illinois Lake Charles, Louisiana (earlier Brownsville, Texas) US 66, US 67, US 63, US 165
Lone Star Trail St. Augustine, Florida Los Angeles, California US 1, US 90, US 84, US 67, US 290, US 80, Arizona 86, US 80, , Arizona 84, Maricopa–Casa Grande Highway (Arizona), Gila Bend–Maricopa Highway (Arizona), US 80
Magnolia Route
Meridian Highway Winnipeg, Manitoba Mexico City, Mexico US 81
Midland Trail w:Washington D.C. w:Los Angeles/w:San Francisco, w:California U.S. Route 6 in portions
Mississippi River Scenic Highway Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Port Arthur, Ontario Fort Myers, Florida and Port Arthur, Texas US 75, US 2, US 71, US 10N, US 10, US 61, US 55, US 61, US 90; US 49E, US 49, US 98, US 90, US 19, US 41
Mississippi Valley Highway Ely, Minnesota Gulfport, Mississippi (earlier New Orleans, Louisiana) US 53, US 61, US 55, US 161, US 67, US 51, US 45, US 11, US 49 Earlier known as the Burlington Way
National Old Trails Road Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland Los Angeles, California US 240/US 40, US 40, US 50N, US 50, US 350, US 85, US 70, US 66
National Park to Park Highway Loop connecting National Parks US 99, US 48, US 40, US 99E, US 99, US 10, US 195, US 95, US 2, US 87, US 87W, US 20, US 185, US 85, US 50, US 285, US 450, US 550, US 64, US 666, US 66
National Parks Highway Boston, Massachusetts, and New York, New York Seattle, Washington Also known as the Northwest Trail
National Roosevelt Midland Trail Washington, D.C. and Newport News, Virginia (earlier Oyster Bay, New York) Los Angeles, California US 60, US 150, US 50, US 40, US 40N, US 40, US 40S, US 50, US 6
New Santa Fe Trail Kansas City, Mo. Los Angeles US 50, US 350, US 85, US 66
Old Oregon Trail Independence, Missouri Seaside, Oregon, and Olympia, Washington US 40, US 30, US 26, US 20, US 87E, US 30N, US 30
Old Spanish Trail St. Augustine, Florida San Diego, California US 1, US 90, US 80
Ozark Trail Kansas City, Missouri, Hannibal, Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee Denver, Colorado, Las Vegas, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas
Pacific Highway Vancouver, British Columbia San Diego, California US 99, US 40, US 101
Pershing Way Winnipeg, Manitoba New Orleans, Louisiana
Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway New York, New York Los Angeles, California (earlier San Francisco, California) US 22, US 250, US 36, US 136, US 36, US 40N, US 40S, US 50, US 91 Also known as the Pershing Transport Route
Puget Sound-to-Gulf Highway
Red Ball Route
River-to-River Road Davenport, Iowa Council Bluffs, Iowa
Southern National Highway
Southwest Trail Chicago, Illinois El Paso, Texas US 32, US 65, US 50S, US 81, US 160, US 281, US 60, US 366
Susquehanna Trail Buffalo, New York Washington, D.C. US 20, US 15, US 111/US 240
Theodore Roosevelt International Highway Portland, Maine Portland, Oregon US 302, US 2, US 11, US 104, US 23, US 2, US 95, US 195, US 295, US 410, US 30
Three C Highway Cleveland, Ohio Cincinnati, Ohio Ohio SR 3
Transprovincial Highway Ottawa Toronto Later Ontario Highway 2 and Ontario Highway 15
Victory Highway New York, New York San Francisco, California US 1, US 40, US 40S, US 83, US 40N, US 40
White River Trail Springfield, Missouri Ponca City, Oklahoma
White-way 7 Highway Chicago, Illinois Omaha, Nebraska US 32 In Iowa, created from segments of the River to River Road from Davenport to Redfield, and the Great White Way from Dexter to Council Bluffs.
William Penn Highway New York, New York Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania US 22
Yellowstone Highway Denver, Colorado Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone Trail Plymouth, Massachusetts Seattle, Washington US 20, US 30, US 41, US 110, US 10, US 212, US 12, US 10, US 195, US 295, US 410, US 97, US 10

See also


  • American Automobile Association (1922). Highways Green Book (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: American Automobile Association. pp. 418–20.
  • United States Touring Map (Map). Automobile Club of America and National Highways Association. 1924.
  • Midget Map of the Transcontinental Trails of the United States (Map). Clason Map Company. 1923.
  • Touring Atlas of the United States (Map). Clason Map Company. 1925.[permanent dead link]
  • Auto Road Atlas (Map). Rand McNally. 1926.
  1. ^ Jensen, Jeff (2013). Drive the Broadway of America!. Tucson: Bygone Byways. ISBN 9780978625900.
  2. ^ Broadway Of America (Map). 1:5,300,000. Washington, D.C.: American Automobile Association. 1932. Retrieved March 28, 2023.
  3. ^ Rules and Regulations ... U.S. Government Printing Office. 1920.
  4. ^ Kitsko, Jeffrey. "US 11". Pennsylvania Highways. Self-published. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  5. ^ Kitsko, Jeffrey. "US 611 (Decommissioned)". Pennsylvania Highways. Self-published. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  6. ^ Johnston, R. J. (April 4, 1918). "The Liberty Highway: Touring and Driveaway Route Between Cleveland and New York". Motor Age. 33 (14): 72–75. Retrieved January 16, 2013.

External links