In Search of...The 1924 Detour Route

IN SEARCH OF...
THE 1924 DETOUR ROUTE


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November 2005

Those of you with copies of the 1924 edition of The Complete Official Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway have likely noticed that for quite some time, a detour route in Pennsylvania and Ohio east of Canton was recommended. As early as 1919, when the U.S. Army Transcontinental Convoy passed through Ohio, a route through East Palestine, Columbiana, Salem, Alliance, and Louisville was preferred over the traditional Lincoln Highway route by way of East Liverpool, Lisbon, and Minerva. In the days of named roads, this route was known as the Canton-Alliance-Pittsburgh Trail, and was later called the Cox Highway in honor of an Ohio governor.

Early gas station in Beloit, Ohio.

That this detour route was the preferred route comes as no big surprise because the Lincoln Highway route through Columbiana County was the most difficult part of the route to improve of any section in Ohio. Even today, it is the U.S. 62 corridor in the Salem - Alliance area which features divided highways and interchanges, while the relatively quiet two-lane section of U.S. 30 between Lisbon and Minerva remains well down ODOT's list for projected four-lane improvements. If U.S. 30 ever does become a four-lane route across Ohio, it is a certainty that a new alignment west of Lisbon will be the final link of the completed chain.

This photo of the Lincoln Highway Association Packard was labeled "East of Salem, Ohio."  A nearly identical photo was marked "Lincoln Highway detour."  Click to enlarge.  Lincoln Highway Collection, Transportation History Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan.

In the August 2005 issue of Buckeye Ramblings, it was reported that a trio of Lincoln Highway Association members had put together a trivia quiz on the subject of their favorite highway. This writer found that to be a greatly interesting project, and added some input in compiling mileage totals of the various routes across Ohio. The 1924 Detour Route was considered for a special category in the final tally for Ohio because of its long-term use. However, there was a bit of a challenge in determining the location of this route (and thus the mileage) in the years of its use between 1919 and 1924.

This photo of the Lincoln Highway Association Packard was labeled "Near Salem, Ohio, approaching from the east."  Click to enlarge.  Lincoln Highway Collection, Transportation History Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan. 

With the help of highway archaeologist Jim Ross (who also maintains this OLHL web site), we think we have come up with the most likely alignment for the detour route that was traveled in the early 1920s. Some day, this writer will make it back to that part of the state again to follow it for himself, but for right now, an odometer chart prepared  in September 2005 (see below) best describes the historic detour. For a guy who is not a surveyor and mapper like this writer, Jim has instincts for finding old road remnants better than anyone I have ever met.

The 1924 Detour Route is absolutely loaded with old gas stations that have been converted to other uses as either U.S. 62 or State Route 14 were bypassed around the several towns and villages. Along with the odometer chart below are additional photographs (all by Jim Ross) of old filling stations, and almost every community seems to have at least one. There is at least one old roadside rest facility, with the typical canopy structure and well.

This 1938 Roadside Rest at the west edge of Columbiana has since been removed.

One particular part of the route which remains in question is where the route entered Ohio at the time when the army convoy arrived in 1919 to camp at the fairgrounds in East Palestine. The state route that now leaves in an easterly direction toward the state line from downtown East Palestine was built on an entirely new alignment at about this time, but we are not sure of the exact year or years. Anyone with a more specific knowledge of highway history in that neighborhood could certainly help us with that small dilemma. The official maps of the Ohio Department of Highways are inconclusive, and as often happens when tracing other old roads, it seems that for every blue book and road guide that this writer has researched, a different route is charted. In several cases, road guides charted a path that passes to the northeast side of East Palestine, on what is now State Route 14.

ODOMETER CHART FOR 1924 DETOUR ROUTE, BEAVER FALLS, PENNSYLVANIA TO CANTON, OHIO, VIA EAST PALESTINE, OHIO    Prepared September 2005

 

0.0 miles— START, at 11th Street in Beaver Falls
0.8— Turn Left onto 24th Street, a.k.a. State Route 588
1.1— Veer Left and go through underpass of railroad
2.2— Turn Right, continuing on State Route 588
4.0— Cross State Route 51 west
7.9— Continue on Old Darlington Road
8.0— Stop; continue on Old Darlington Road
8.2— Stop; turn Left onto Darlington Road (note: not Old Darlington)
9.4— Stop; Darlington Hotel on Left; eat lunch; continue straight
11.2— Right onto PA 51 N because original road destroyed
11.4— Left, back onto original road now called East Palestine Road,
leaving East Palestine Bypass
12.7— Stop
13.9— Stateline Road; enter East Palestine on Pleasant
14.7— Left onto Taggart
15.3— Veer Right
15.4— Right onto Market in East Palestine
17.3— Left onto State Route 14 (return to East Palestine Bypass)
23.2— Cross State Route 7
24.2— Left onto East Park (leaving Columbiana Bypass)
25.4— Follow traffic circle 1/4 around; Right on North Main in Columbiana
25.7— Left onto West Salem St./Old Fourteen St.
26.9— Left, returning to new State Route 14
29.6— Center of Washingtonville
31.1— Center of Salem
39.8— Center of Damascus
42.0— Right onto State Route 165, bearing north
43.5— Center of Beloit; Left onto 5th St. (not marked)
44.8— Center of Sebring, now on Ohio St.
49.0— Left onto Freedom
49.1— Right onto Main
49.5— Right onto Union; center of Alliance
49.7— Left onto Ely
50.6— Left onto (brick) Buckeye
50.7— Right onto unmarked road
50.8— Continue straight to rejoin Ely
51.4— Cross State Routes 62 and 225
54.5— Fork; left onto Columbus Road
56.5— Cross State Route 173
57.2— Center of Harrisburg
59.0— Left onto State Route 44
61.9— Center of Louisville; Right onto SR 153;
enter Canton on Mahoning
67.6— Left onto Lawrence (Eisenhower slept here)
67.7— Left onto Young
68.0— Right, returning to Mahoning
68.2— Fork; veer Right
68.5— Right onto 4th St.
68.9— Left onto Market
69.1— END, at Court House in Canton

 

 

Damascus, Oh

 

 

East Palestine, Oh

 

 

 

Cherry Valley Coke Ovens.  An interesting side trip near Leetonia, Oh.

 

 

Sebring, Oh.

 

 

 

A second station in Beloit, across from the one shown in the main text.

 

From the Ohio historical marker:  Joshua Dixon selected this site in 1805 as the center of Columbiana.  The first local post office established at the museum 1809, pioneered free mail delivery in 1837.

 

 

Across the log house (above) in Columbiana.

 

 

 

 

Art Deco theater in downtown Columbiana.

 

 

 

State line marker.  Marker on left is just east of East Palestine on Taggart Street.  Below is an early photo of a typical marker, and may even be the same as on the left -- notice the notch missing on both.

Color photos and descriptors by Jim Ross