12 Cool Facts About the U.S. Highway System

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The open road has stories to tell. The Interstate Highway System, the iconic blue signs, and the crucial Highway Trust Fund come into focus in this article, showcasing the interconnected web that binds the nation. Take a road trip through time, where Ladybird Johnson’s vision for highway beauty meets the milestones and stories etched into the asphalt of the U.S. highway system. 

1. The Birth of the U.S. Highway System

2. Everitt Memorial Highway (California)
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The idea of a national highway system was born in the early 20th century. Inspired by the success of European road networks, the United States embarked on the ambitious project of creating a comprehensive highway system.

2. The First Cross-Country Road Trip

3. Family Road Trip
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In 1903, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson and mechanic Sewall K. Crocker made history by completing the first-ever cross-country road trip from San Francisco to New York City, showcasing the potential of automobiles and fueling interest in better roads.

3. There Are Actually Two Highway Systems

Interstate Highway to Texas
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The Interstate Highway System and the U.S. Highway System are two distinct networks of roads within the United States, and they serve different purposes. Here’s a breakdown of their differences:

The Interstate Highway System, established in 1956, is designed for high-speed, long-distance travel with controlled access, while the U.S. Highway System, initiated in 1926, connects major cities with varying road designs, often passing through town centers. Interstates use blue and red shield emblems, whereas U.S. Highways use black and white shields.

4. The Longest U.S. Highway

Downtown and highway, Boston, USA
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U.S. Route 20 holds the distinction of being the longest U.S. highway, spanning over 3,300 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, to Newport, Oregon. This transcontinental route offers travelers a diverse and scenic journey.

5. The Iconic Route 66

Iconic Route 66, chicago to santa monica - los angeles
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Route 66, also known as the “Main Street of America,” is perhaps the most famous U.S. highway. Spanning from Chicago to Santa Monica, it played a crucial role in the westward migration during the Dust Bowl era and is celebrated in pop culture.

6. The Alaskan Highway’s Engineering Feat

Alaska Highway in British Columbia, Canada
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Built during World War II, the Alaska Highway stretches over 1,300 miles, connecting Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada, to Delta Junction in Alaska. Its construction was a remarkable engineering achievement, overcoming challenging terrains.

7. The Highway Trust Fund

Blue Ridge Parkway
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The Highway System relies on the Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956. Financed by fuel taxes, it funds the construction and maintenance of highways and bridges, ensuring the nation’s roads remain in good condition.

8. The Famous Interstates

Interstate Highway System, Chicago
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The Interstate Highway System, authorized in 1956, revolutionized travel. Interstates, identified by blue signs, crisscross the country, facilitating efficient and rapid transportation. The U.S. is crisscrossed by a vast network of interstates, but a few of them have earned legendary status.

Did you know that the I-90 is a road-tripper’s dream, running from Boston to Seattle and being the longest interstate in America? Or that the I-40, while popular today, closely follows the ancient path of Route 66, giving travelers a taste of old and new? These iconic roads not only connect coasts but also stitch together stories, sights, and secrets that make America’s heartbeat.

9. The World’s First Paved Road

Detroit-Woodward Avenue
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In 1909, the Detroit-Woodward Avenue became the world’s first mile of concrete-paved roadway. This innovation marked a significant step in the evolution of road infrastructure. Today, there are more than four million miles of paved roads in the U.S.

10. The Eisenhower Tunnel

The Eisenhower Tunnel
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Named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world, reaching an elevation of 11,158 feet. It provides a vital link through the Rocky Mountains.

11. The National Maximum Speed Limit

Speed Limit 55
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In 1974, during the energy crisis, the U.S. imposed a national maximum speed limit of 55 mph to conserve fuel. While the limit was later lifted, it remains a part of highway history.

12. Highway Beautification Act

Highway Beautification Act
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First Lady Ladybird Johnson championed the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, aimed at controlling outdoor advertising and improving the visual quality of the nation’s highways. This act has played a role in preserving the scenic beauty along U.S. highways.

Best Gas Stations in America Worth Stopping For

Bucees gas station red truck
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Gas stations are typically nothing more than mere pit stops during long journeys, serving the functional purpose of refueling vehicles. However, there are some exceptional gas stations across America that go beyond the ordinary, offering unique experiences and amenities that make them destinations in their own right! 

Best Gas Stations in America Worth Stopping For

Main Street of America: Route 66 Attractions State by State

Route 66 sign
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We’ve compiled a list of 50 attractions—state by state—to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.

Main Street of America: Route 66 Attractions State by State

37 Amazing Amtrak Routes That Explore America’s Beauty

Amtrak train
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Train travel is underrated. It’s cheap, relaxing, scenic, and environmentally friendly. Amtrak, the nation’s rail network, has more than 35 routes and 500 destinations in 46 states.

You’ll have access to private sleeping rooms, quiet cars, dining and lounge cars, and comfortable seating with amazing views. Solo travelers can bring their bikes, couples can bring their pets, and families have plenty of space to keep kids entertained. Below we’ll explore all of the Amtrak routes you can currently take in North America.

37 Amazing Amtrak Routes That Explore America’s Beauty

Best Cities to Vacation in That Don’t Require Renting a Car

Mackinac Island bikers downtown
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

When planning a vacation, there’s enough to worry about without stressing over renting a car, where to park it, and whether you can afford the extra insurance. What if you simply choose a location designed for people without cars and skip the rental car altogether? You could plan on walking, rent an e-Bike, or Uber when the occasion calls for it. It will still be cheaper than renting a car. Here are some of the absolute best cities for vacationing without getting behind the wheel. 

Best Cities to Vacation in That Don’t Require Renting a Car

This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.

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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.