Chronology of Ohio Road Maps

 

The "cartographer's changing view" of Ohio is seen in the four map panels which appear below. These map excerpts highlight the Lincoln Highway corridor between Mansfield and Delphos—if not the most interesting area in Ohio with respect to history, then certainly the most interesting with respect to numerology. The four maps are arranged in chronological order, and are dated 1927, 1937, 1957, and 1977.

 

The 1927 map is a third-generation reproduction from Volume 9 of the Automobile Blue Book, which covered all of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, and parts of adjacent states. Unfortunately, the magnificent title block for this map could not be shown in a way that would do it justice—although the art work is still impressive despite the detail lost after repeated copying. Apart from the wonderful drawing work, the map itself is significant because it shows both the numbers of the new federal routes and the letter symbols of the old auto trails.

 

On this first map excerpt, "L" indicates the Lincoln Highway, and "D" indicates the Dixie Highway. Both transcontinental highways are prominent on this panel, intersecting at Beaverdam. Note that in 1927, the route of U.S. 30 passes through Galion, Marion, Kenton, and Lima, and this line practically jumps off the map when compared to the line of the Lincoln Highway. One interesting area of U.S. 30 is the erratic alignment between Elida and Delphos—a far cry from the arrow-straight alignment of today's State Route 309 between those two towns.

 

Three other major auto trails traversed the states covered by the original Blue Book map. One is the Pikes Peak Ocean To Ocean Highway—indicated by "PP," this route cuts across the bottom right corner of this panel at the town of Mount Vernon. The two other routes are completely beyond these arbitrary borders—the National Old Trails Road ("N") and the Yellowstone Trail ("Y"). The National Old Trails Road was closely followed by U.S. 40 across Ohio, and the Yellowstone Trail was generally followed by a combination of U.S. 20 and State Route 2.

 

The map legend (not shown) indicates that the heavy solid lines are "concrete, brick, macadam, oil-treated, or asphalt" surfaces. The alternating solid-open pattern indicates "gravel, stone, shell, or sand-clay" surfaces. An open line symbol was for "dirt or sand" surfaces. If ticks were added to the open line symbol, that would indicate routes under construction. It appears that in 1927, much of the notoriously horrible stretch of Lincoln Highway/State Route 5 between Williamstown and Gomer was under construction, justifying the prevailing use of U.S. 30.

 

The 1937, 1957, and 1977 maps are all excerpted from "official" maps of the Ohio Department of Highways/Ohio Department of Transportation. Note the appearance of designations such as 30-N, 30-S, and 309 on these maps, and the development of four-lane highways and bypasses. The 1977 map was actually called a "transportation" map, with unusual emphasis on airports and passenger railways. Note the route of Amtrak's Broadway Limited, which stopped at Crestline and Lima until November 1990.

 

Also interesting is the development of the map itself, with more information and color added to each successive issue. Where three layers of color were used on the 1937 and 1957 maps (red, blue, cyan), five colors were used on the 1977 map (red, black, cyan, yellow, and green). I consider the 1977 map, and the similar 1976 "Bicentennial" map, to be the most visually appealing of the "official" Ohio maps in my incomplete collection.