Without question, my favorite road maps from the early 1900s are the strip maps published by the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC), whose cartographic work was of such high quality that it would be considered superior in any generation.  The Auto Club was founded in 1900 and reportedly began charting and mapping the roads of Southern California in 1906.  According to one web site, the first tour book and strip maps were published in 1912.  By the 1920s, ACSC strip maps would be directing tourists as far away as the east coast.

One of the most collectible map sets featured the Lincoln Highway from Omaha to Chicago and Philadelphia.  Other parts of the Lincoln Highway were covered under different headings.  This particular set consisted of 24 strip maps, including two which were spur routes into Chicago.  A total of six maps were needed to cover the route across Ohio, and all are reproduced at this site.  Although this map set does not show any copyright date, it was most likely published in late 1920 or early 1921, based on the fact that the Lincoln Highway route is shown passing through Galion and not through Crestline.  That route change was made official in December 1920, eighteen months after the coming of the U.S. Army's Transcontinental Motor Convoy had instigated a revision which took Ada and Lima off the route in favor of Williamstown and Beaverdam.

 Like the Lincoln Highway Association maps of 1918, I received these map images several years after preparing A History and Road Guide of the Lincoln Highway in Ohio.  Thus, there are again some minor route variations which are not covered in that work.  One variation is an extra set of turns in Upper Sandusky that includes Finley Street, and another variation is the use of State Street (not Main Street) to negotiate the jog from Second Street to Fifth Street in Delphos.  This is the only reference that I have ever seen which shows those unusual turning movements.

 These map images are courtesy of Lincoln Highway Association member David Cole of Santa Maria, California.

One of the most interesting travel references of its day was the Hobbs Grade and Surface Guide originally sponsored by the Mohawk Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio.  Based on my limited collection of such guides, the Hobbs Guide seems to have been a popular travel product sold by tire dealerships and auto clubs from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s.  The guides were likely supplanted by the free maps that were being more aggressively distributed by growing oil companies which had enjoyed new successes by marketing branded gasoline.

 The originator of the Guide, and its publisher throughout, was Howard F. Hobbs.  The first guide appears to have been published in 1922.  The latest guide that I have found is dated 1933, and at that time was sponsored by the B.F. Goodrich Company.  By 1933, guides were available for 25 different routes from all parts of the nation, including all the most popular named trails that had recently assumed federal numberings.  Hobbs prided himself on "telling the truth without fear or favor [with] no highway, hotel, or organization...shown favoritism."  The Guide was "entirely free of advertising" other than that of the sponsoring tire company, with "hotels, garages, and camps listed on their merits alone."

 Although the reading matter which describes the numerous hotels, garages, and camps certainly conjures nostalgic images of old-time auto touring, the most unique feature of each Hobbs Guide is the "Profile and Surface Chart" that graces the top of each page.  With profile information printed in dark blue above it, the quality of the road surface "is revealed by a red strip across the bottom of the chart [and] the more red, the better the road."  Whether paved or gravel, the road was judged as either fine, good, fair, or poor.

The images accompanying this text are mostly from the 1932 edition (or Fifth Edition) of the Hobbs Guide for the Lincoln Highway between Chicago and New York.  Each image is from the collection of Lincoln Highway Association member David Cole of Santa Maria, California.  The image which includes the "Key for Use of Guide" is taken from a Guide in my personal collection that is dated 1933.

A highly collectible item among fans of the Lincoln Highway is this Texaco Road Map which shows the entirety of the transcontinental route.  This map was reportedly published only once, in 1929, at a time when The Texas Company was aggressively marketing the "well-known Texaco Red Star with the green T [which] shines forth on the highways of the country from Coast to Coast."  The Texaco brand did in fact become the first gasoline to be marketed in all 48 states.

Copied herewith is Section 3 of an eight map set, showing the route of the Lincoln Highway between East Liverpool, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Note that between Mansfield and Delphos, the route of the Lincoln Highway was still marked along State Route 5, with U.S. Route 30 being marked on what were then better roads through Marion, Kenton, and Lima.  Also copied is the artistic and nostalgic map cover, printed in shades of red and green, the two prominent Texaco colors.

The map images are from the collection of Lincoln Highway Association member David Cole of Santa Maria, California.

 

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.